Ballooning Up


The staircase banister in the sorority house is festooned with balloons: big ones, small ones, medium-sized ones in pink, orange, green, and blue, cascading over the sides of the rails like rainbow-colored soap bubbles. The credit for the arrangement goes to Kaelyn Perkins, a junior from Northern California who is majoring in communications and minoring in real estate at Culverhouse, and her startup, Balloons by Kae.

Last January, 2023, Kaelyn was asked to take charge of decorations for a friend’s birthday. The friend wanted a big backdrop—balloons, a banner, the works—so Kaelyn decided to make everything herself. She turned to YouTube, studied some tutorials, bought a lot of balloons, and created a balloon arch. “That’s not bad,” her friend told her. The friend suggested that Kaelyn should post her creations on Instagram and sell them, and Kaelyn did. She got three more clients in the next couple of days.

Though most of her clients are other college students, she also has a relationship with a wedding planner who has helped her get balloon orders for events like baby showers and bachelorette parties. Most commonly she does backdrops for birthday parties, but she has also decorated staircases and created balloon columns.

What’s next? Kaelyn plans to get a membership at The Edge and enter the Edward K. Aldag, Jr. Student Business Plan Competition. “It makes me nervous,” she said. “But it’s also exciting and it’s a good thing.” If she wins, she would like to hire someone to help her with the business. And she would like to buy more balloons to keep in stock so she does not have to order for every job.

Lately she has been looking at balloon businesses around the U.S. on Instagram. One woman did a huge balloon display for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Kaelyn found that inspiring. “I think it’d be so cool to do something for a sports team, maybe Alabama football,” she said.

For Kaelyn, starting a business is a learning process. “I really had no idea what I was doing and it was never something I planned to do,” she said, “but as time goes on and you encounter different problems, you learn how to solve them, and then it helps you continue to keep growing and learning.”

Authored by

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Zach thomas

Director of Marketing & Communications