Today we’d like to introduce you to Thad James.
Hi Thad, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
In 1998, I bought a book on making balloon animals that included a bag of balloons and a hand pump. I wanted to be a cool uncle to my nephew. He loved the giraffe and sword and dog. But I was enthralled with the possibilities of this creative art form. I stumbled on an online discussion board created just for balloon artists. (This was long before the age of websites, YouTube, and digital photography. We would type questions, type answers, and type instructions on how to create new balloon figures.
In 2000, I attended the very first Twist & Shout Balloon Convention. This conference was designed specifically for balloon artists (also called balloon twisters). There were more than 200 balloon artists from around the world. We shared ideas, taught classes, and discussed the future of this industry. Twist & Shout continues to this day! During Covid, the convention went virtual with 24-hour classes, workshops, and balloon jams (where artists gather and play with balloons) In the last six or seven years, I have transitioned to Balloon Decorating, creating unique designs and sculptures for receptions, conventions, and corporate events. With more than 20-years of experience, I have developed a strong and dedicated client base, with new customers contacting me daily.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Most of my struggles running a business have been about running a business. I’ve learned everything about the business that didn’t involve inflating a balloon. I had a lot of help from other balloon artists who helped with the industry aspect of the business. But most of my business education has come from building relationships with other business owners. I’m a member of the Fenton Area Chamber of Commerce. Chambers are a great resource of knowledge, information, and referrals. As a member of Experts For Entrepreneurs (E4E), I have learned a lot about running a company, growing my business, and getting to know genuinely generous people. I rely on many experts to help me run my business, including bookkeeping, digital marketing, website design & management, graphic design, and so much more.
“Struggles” are opportunities to learn and become more confident for the following situation.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I specialize in creating unique, memorable atmospheres for celebrations and special occasions. I work with clients and event planners to understand the event’s purpose, the best spaces for decor, and the vision for the experience. The set should enhance the event and be a “wow factor” for the guests. I specialize in exclusive designs for each event. I coordinate with event planners, location managers, staff, and crew to organize all aspects of the project. I am proud of my decor designs, but the best compliment I receive is” “You were so professional and easy to work with.”
How do you define success?
“Success” in each particular job depends on the project’s parameters. “Success” can be creating a new design, building a larger sculpture, or completing a concept you didn’t think was possible. There are many opportunities to find “success” within every job.
“Success” in my business comes from creative collaborations, excited clients, and realizing the possibilities of my talents. While I make good money providing my skills, that is not a measure of “success.” Conceiving and seeing a concept through fruition brings the most pride and satisfaction.
- Website: sammyjballoons.com
- Instagram: @sammyjballoons
- Facebook: @sammyjballoons
- Youtube: youtube.com/sammyjballoons
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sammy-j-balloon-creations-st-louis?osq=sammy+j+balloons