Balloons by Misti Spreads Joy to Others Through Colorful Balloon Arrangements
By Marla DeFoe
Balloons are one of the simple joys in life. Just hand a child a bright red balloon on a string and watch their face light up. There is something magical, yet simple, about that floating orb. Balloons are often tied to celebrations of the best things in life: a birthday, graduation, wedding, baby shower, or any holiday.
Misti Kauffman is a proud mother of six children. Looking for ways to get more involved in her kids’ school activities, she once volunteered to decorate for the end-of-school picnic with balloon flowers. The PTA thought that was a great idea. “I thought to myself, balloon flowers can’t be that hard,” Misti laughs. She spent the evening searching the internet for directions to make balloon flowers. All the kids and adults loved the decorations. Misti kept finding more and more reasons to learn how to make additional entertainment out of balloons. “When you have six kids, it’s always a party,” she says.
Misti was soon making balloon arrangements for birthdays, her kids’ sporting events, school and church celebrations. Her work did not go unnoticed. In 2019, while decorating for one of these events, a fellow mother said to her, “You should start a balloon business.” But Misti wasn’t sure anyone would pay for her services.
Not even sure how to start a business, she created a Facebook page, and Balloons by Misti was born. “It just kind of took off from there,” she recalls. Soon she was making all sorts of balloon creations for customers. “Word of mouth is how I found early success,” she says. Then when the pandemic hit, she had a request for a birthday celebration balloon display for the yard. “During that time, when people couldn’t gather for celebrations, yard art became a huge craze. Everyone wanted them to help make their family birthdays feel special.”
Misti gets her inspiration, creativity, and skills from many different avenues. There are countless hours spent looking through Pinterest for fun ideas such as balloon arches, bouquets, sculptures or twisted balloon creatures, and décor. Misti was able to participate in several online balloon conventions during the pandemic. “I had spent hours trying to figure out how to do certain things with balloons, and those amazing conventions helped me learn and gain golden nuggets of simpler ways to do things I had been muddling through for years,” she says.
Misti has also attended several conferences, which offer hands-on learning opportunities. Last year she participated in Balloon Wonderland in Orlando, Florida. She worked with 350 other balloon professionals on The Big Balloon Build for the charity “Give Kids the World”, transforming an entire room into a fantasyland made of balloons.
Misti was a teacher and mentor at Balloon Boss Summit this past November and will be speaking at the convention again in Florida later this year. “Participating in these conferences is the best thing ever,” she said. “I get to be around people who are just as passionate about balloons as I am, and there is so much knowledge to gain.” Hands-on learning and networking have been a great way to expand her knowledge and talents.
As Misti’s business grew, she found herself needing help taking and fulfilling orders for customers. She asked her daughter, Rebekah, to help one day and she really took to it. “She was 14 when she started helping out in the store,” says Misti. “Rebekah enjoyed working with balloons and wanted to do more. She quickly started creating her own designs and has developed into quite the balloon artist.”
When a customer calls about balloons for a celebration, they are always greeted with, “It’s always a party at Balloons by Misti.” They like to inquire about the customer’s vision for their celebration. “I always ask them if they have a color theme in mind, what the arrangement is for, and what types of things the recipient likes.” No two arrangements are alike. “We try to make each and every arrangement special,” she says. “Each one is as unique and individual as the person who receives it.” She encourages customers to contact her early, so they have more flexibility to create that special one-of-a-kind gift.
“The potential with balloons is limitless, a bag of balloons can create so many different things” she explains. Giving the gift of a balloon arrangement has many benefits. “Our air-filled arrangements last a long time,” she says. Latex balloons are biodegradable and foil balloons are reusable. “There is very little trash in the balloon industry,” she says.
Misti offers countless options when it comes to arrangements. There are tabletop celebration arrangements, celebration stands for indoors or outdoors, helium bouquets, arches and more – the sky is the limit. They use tier level pricing for balloon creations so “we can work with any budget,” she says. “Every day and every occasion can be celebrated with balloons.”
Misti’s resume doesn’t just include birthday parties and baby showers. She has decorated for many community events, including business celebrations, the Altru Gala, Special Olympics, UND Welcome Weekend and Career Fair, monster truck rallies, and conferences, just to name a few. “I’ve done floats for the Potato Bowl parade, Santa’s Village, Knight for a Princess daddy-daughter dance, and the grand opening of the UND Student Union as well,” she says.
Misti also does a lot of charity work. While we chatted, she was preparing to create over 800 arrangements for Giving Hearts Day, donated to senior residents in the area. Through donations, senior residents at Valley Senior Living, Edgewood, Good Samaritan, Maple View, Hatton Prairie Village, and Lutheran Sunset Home in Grafton can all receive balloon arrangements created by Misti and Rebekah. “Just think of the joy and happiness that will fill those facilities,” Misti smiles.
Being able to celebrate milestones with her customers is Misti’s favorite part of what she does. “I love being a part of their celebrations,” she says. “Getting to see people’s reactions to the balloons will never get old.” She has many repeat customers, and always enjoys helping celebrate all the good things in their lives. “It’s all a lot of fun.” And when it comes to her daily tasks, no two days are the same. “I feel lucky to get to be a part of some pretty special moments,” she says with a smile. And that’s why she loves what she does. She spreads smiles and joy wherever her balloons go.
Kidpreneurs in the Family Kool Kreations Shaved Ice
Before Balloons by Misti, there were some other creative businesspeople in the Kauffman family. Misti’s sons, Nehemiah, Micah, and Elijah discovered their love for lemonade stands when they were very young. But, they decided to up their chances at customers - and revenue - by selling shaved ice, using the family’s shaved ice machine instead.
“The boys came up with the idea themselves,” Misti explains. “They built a stand, mapped out an area within a mile radius of our house, and rode their bikes around placing signs directing traffic to their yard in the cul-de-sac, every morning.” They quickly found how popular shaved ice would be. They enjoyed the money they made, but instead of spending all the money they earned on toys or candy, they reinvested in their company. “They bought a second shaved ice machine with their profits,” Misti says. They have now expanded to the Farmers Market, private events, carnivals, and parties. They also added cotton candy and popcorn to their available products.
“The boys run the business themselves,” explains Misti. “They are constantly looking for ways to grow, expand, and improve.” They now run their business alongside Balloons by Misti and are available for booking through the Kool Kreations Shaved Ice Facebook page or the Balloons by Misti website. G
// To view the full story, check out the digital issue here
From Issue 1, 2023
PHOTOS BY: Manstrom Photography & Balloons by Misti