We had the good fortune of connecting with Helen Swiff-Goodman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Ever since I was little I have always been involved with some sort of creative endeavors. Sometimes they were just for fun and other times they were also as a business enterprise. I have used all kinds of materials to express myself creatively throughout the years. During the fall of 2019, I helped my friend make several balloon garlands for a big party and I was hooked. I started making things with balloons for every celebration. Then spring arrived and Covid hit and there weren’t any parties happening, but people still wanted to celebrate. My youngest daughter’s birthday is April 5th. So her friends and I organized a drive-by celebration…which was a novel thing at that point. I decided to make a balloon garland for our front door to make it special and more of a party, and a great photo op! When I posted the picture on social media I had several inquiries about who designed the balloons. I begin getting requests to make balloon garlands for friends and family. I wasn’t working as an American Sign Languahe interpreter because of quarantine so I decided I would post something on Facebook about starting a balloon business. Within 24 hours I had a dozen requests… and that was without making the post public. I decided I had something worth pursuing and started making it official with a website that my amazing friend Kristi made for me. I started learning new techniques and styles that were trending in balloon design. It made me so happy to bring joy to peoples’ lives during this very trying time. I made my creations affordable so everyone that wanted to could have a fun celebration in a safe way at their home. It was still important to me, and many other people, to celebrate happy occasions and honor people in their lives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My goal is to make something special and personal with every design. I always say “balloons make it a party”. It is really a great way to transform a space and have an awesome photo opportunity. I have clients who are very specific and detailed and send me color samples and design ideas. My favorite thing is when they tell me that I made their vision come to life. I also have clients that say they don’t have a creative bone in their body and maybe will give me a couple colors or something vague and a budget and then when they see the final product they are wowed. It’s really important to me that everything is just right and the customer is beyond happy with the result.
I love being innovative and finding new things you can do with balloons. I spend a lot of my downtime getting inspired by fellow balloon designers. There is a huge balloon world I had no idea about several years ago. Now that I am in my second year of the business I am getting more and more repeat clients and I want to have new offerings to keep things fresh.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love being a tourist in my own town. I am constantly exploring and love nature, music, food, coffee and of course art. My favorite thing is when people reach out to me because they know I will have a good recommendation of something fun to do or an great new restaurant to try. Quarantining made me think outside of the box on what to do for fun and my family spent a lot of time outside. My recent new favorite greenspots are Houston Botanic Garden and Memorial Eastern Glades, but I am a regular at the Houston Arboretum to hit the trails with my pup. I normally am a big concert goer… both big and small and if somewhere has live music I’m always up it.
Trying to pick favorite restaurants would be like picking a favorite kid! I visit Bellaire/Beltway 8 to try all different kind of Asian food with some regularity. I keep a list of new places to try when I read great reviews and I love everything from fancy dinners to stopping by hole-in-the walls as well. I seem to be in the Heights a lot, for food and shopping. The new MKT on Shepherd is great architectural design and is getting new cool places everyday. Coffee shops are an obsession of mine… some of my old favorites are Catalina, Luce Ave and Southside Espresso. Summermoon is AMAZING if you are in the suburbs. Some of my new favs are Amsterdam Coffee, Blendin Coffee Club and Badolina Bakery. If I want to switch to tea… Im a regular at Pondicheri bakelab for their Chai. EaDo has great street art but I really like how you can find it throughout Houston now. The Menil and Rothko seem to be in my regular rotation but I feel like its been way too long since ive been to a museum or gallery. I took a great art class with Ruthimakes.com the other day… a Fabric Collage with an homage to Frida. I also like to support local…. The ‘401 in Bellaire is my favorite neighborhood hangout, the food is awesome, the vibe is welcoming and I always see someone I know. The owners have been huge supporters of my business and you can see a monthly Brightside Balloons display at the front of the restaurant. I also recently have done events at their party space next door at The 77.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Starting a successful business in a Pandemic was hard. It would not have been possible without the support of my family and friends. My husband has been my biggest cheerleader and helped out whenever he could. His favorite part is seeing the client’s reaction when they see their one-of-a-kind design for the first time. My older daughter became involved with the business as well and gives me business advice as well as feedback on design and social media presence. My friends were a key component in getting my business off the ground. Word of mouth was all my business depended on at the beginning. Now my business success depends on my amazing clients recommending me to people. It also makes me so happy to get to interact with people on a more personal level now that life is starting to get back to normal.
Facebook: Brightside Balloons