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Bella Balloons making a mark

Sep 28, 2023

BELLA Balloons is changing the landscape of event décor with classy and gorgeous balloon artistry.

The business is owned and operated by Dr Kelly-Lois Gooden Morgan, a medical doctor by profession in Montego Bay, St James, who stumbled on the idea while casually scrolling on social media.

"Amazing balloon designs started popping up on Instagram. From what I saw they were all abroad and I was like, 'These are so gorgeous, so beautiful,' and seeing them made me excited and it drew on my creative side and I said 'Oh! I'd love to do that,' " Gooden Morgan told the Jamaica Observer in an interview while expressing her passion for the craft.

Her interest was piqued in 2019 and seeing a growing trend in the market for balloon designs, Dr Gooden Morgan felt it was the perfect fit to explore her creative side. With no prior knowledge or skill in decoration, the novice in event décor and planning went on a self-taught mission using YouTube.

"I practised and practised until I got it down. I was really just doing balloon stuff for family and friends, and for myself for my son's birthday and stuff like that — until I decided to open it up to everyone on this side [Montego Bay]," she explained.

Shortly after, she registered for a balloon artistry course and learnt all about balloons and balloon décor and has been learning and growing with each job, designing balloon arches and balloon displays for functions. The business slowly grew out of recommendations from friends and family members, and in September 2021 Bella Balloons was officially registered.

With less than US$500 Bella Balloons began operating fully, providing an alternative to the more expensive floral arrangements with durable and environmentally friendly balloon décor using biodegradable latex balloons, which are touted as its niche. However, sourcing these types of balloons locally is no easy feat when it comes to providing superior quality and luxurious designs.

"The quality that we have in our local stores is just not there, also the variety, so in order to do a more complex piece (which people usually want, they just don't know it yet) we need to use different ranges of balloons — and so people don't really observe it, they just like how it looks," she explained.

A design for a major balloon piece would require the use of all different kinds of balloons — from seventeen- to five-inch balloons and sometimes even smaller as well.

"And so all of those different bags or sets are not sold here, and the type of quality is not the same," she said.

She explained that because demand for these balloons is lacking, she has to import them. And in 2021 shipping and logistics issues brought on by the pandemic placed a strain on the business. The unpredictable shipping time made it difficult to deliver and plan for her clients.

"Sometimes the balloons would come late and we would maybe have to get something out here or change the colours out, and that was a huge problem. There was also a latex shortage that we're still coming out of; sometimes clients would want a particular colour and we would be unable to provide that because there's just no way to find it," she told the Business Observer in frustration.

In addition to those challenges, Dr Gooden Morgan is juggling her full-time job and parenting while operating the business. Due to this, the business only operates within the Montego Bay area. About 80 per cent of Bella Balloons' clients are corporate companies, with the remainder being from clients celebrating special occasions.

With two years under its belt the business has yet to realise real profits and is still re-investing earnings. Whether or not Bella Balloons sees a full schedule per month Dr Gooden Morgan says for her, the décor is more for a therapeutic experience than a business one.

"Personally it's something I just enjoy doing — I have a passion for it," she said proudly. She continued, "Every time I do a balloon piece it always feels like I'm doing magic," she effused and added, "I love doing more big pieces because it's more fun — I get to play around more and to use more of my creativity to do colour combinations so I always get into a Zen mood while doing the balloons and the time goes like that [quickly]."

As the small company continues to make its mark in the Montego Bay area, there are plans to extend outside of that region. Part of the expansions plans include additional offerings such as party play equipment, backdrop and prop rentals.

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BELLA Balloons is changing the landscape of event décor with classy and gorgeous balloon artistry. Jamaica Observer Business Observer HOUSE RULES