Happy Monday! Today’s dose of inspiration comes from CoChic Cool Chick Elaine Frei, founder of a super cool company called Luft Balloons. I met Elaine at a wedding industry networking event and was so impressed with her energy and awesome brand. I mean, who doesn’t love balloons?! She had brought balloons to the event to showcase Luft’s unique decor ideas for weddings, like balloon chair covers and a balloon photo back drop. Blew my mind. I wish I had met her before my wedding! Anyway, we met for coffee and turns out she’s not only creative, but savvy and business-minded, as well. It was great chatting with her, getting her biz advice, and learning about her brand, so I thought I’d share with all of you!
If you are new to CoChic Cool Chicks, welcome! CoChic Cool Chicks is an interview series, featuring women entrepreneurs who inspire me, who I am lucky enough to have in my girl boss network. These women are doing great things and whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur or not, I hope that they inspire you to do great things, too. I encourage you to check out their businesses, websites, and social media. And reach out to them, ask them questions, say hello. They’d love to hear from you!
Tell us about your business!
We make awesome, amazing custom color balloons for any event in life. We sell 11″ helium balloons and mini (5″) air balloons along with our DIY kit for you to do at home. The exciting thing for us right now is that we have just launched delivery. Getting helium balloons is a P-A-I-N. So if you’re in Chicago, check us out for delivery! Our DIY studio is located at Bridgeport Art Studio where we create new colors and come up with fun abstract balloon ideas and decor. Our favorite social is Instagram. It’s where we post everything – @luft.balloon.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I have always wanted to be at the helm of some creative wheel. For me, in order to exist, to feel fulfilled, I have to create. I have to make. And a lot of jobs out there lack “making.” So I had to figure out a business that allowed me to make and channel that creativity.
LUFT was a brainchild after working at SOIRTAY, a blog about the sass and science for hosting dinner parties. We had designed a birthday dinner party using nostalgic birthday party materials in creative new ways. One of the elements was a balloon centerpiece in lieu of flowers. We bought over $200 worth of balloons and couldn’t put together a single clean, sophisticated palette. One turquoise didn’t match the other, one balloon was glossy, the other matte, one bag had only one beautiful purple, etc etc. It was then that I realized there was a void in the market.
Who is your ideal client?
Anyone who loves to throw a party or anyone who wants to brighten some days with balloons. (We deliver to hospitals, offices for birthdays, you name it.)
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
The unknown. I think if I ever get to a point of “having figured it out” then I’ve done something wrong.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The unknown. Risk is scary.
What is your best piece of business advice?
We all need help when we start businesses, right? But things cost money. You think, I really need a social media firm. I can’t keep doing all these posts. Or I really need a professional photographer. Maybe my product would sell better. Or I really need $200 Moo business cards. It makes a first great impression. Or I need a big office with nice furniture. But, in the beginning, every penny you spend is absolutely precious profit or personal investment. Try to do everything on the bare minimum. Barter. Do it yourself. Teach yourself. Only spend money where it’s absolutely necessary. I promise it pays off (literally).
Do you have any tricks of the trade you could share with us?
Curate. I’m talking photography here. Make everything look irresistible. Whether it’s your social media, your product shots, your website. It’s a consumer’s first impression. I spend a lot of time designing and thinking through photo shoots and it’s the one thing I hire a professional to take the pictures for.
How would you describe your personal style?
I love feeling edgy but accessible with a pop of color.
What does being CoChic (comfortably chic) mean to you?
Looking effortlessly put together like Heidi Klum. Le sigh. I’ve got a long way to go.