Friday, May 28, 2010
Balloon artist Kathy Elam believes that all it takes is a balloon and a smile to brighten someone's day.
"A simple balloon can get you through a lot of different doors, to reach people in all kinds of different ways," she says.
Elam, 53, owner of SuStaloons, an event-decorating service based out of her home in Jackson, earned the designation of Certified Balloon Artist last month after more than a decade of perfecting her craft.
In 1998, Elam was shopping for a balloon with the words "you go girl" for her daughter's friend. After finding out from the store's clerk that no such balloon existed, she went home and had a dream about the conversation that night. When she woke up, she says she started researching opportunities for making her own balloon decorations and discovered that there is an entire industry devoted to the craft.
Elam admits that becoming a certified balloon artist is more difficult than people realize. The certification process involves rigorous testing of everything from balloon height requirements to twisting methods and delivery protocols.
Elam calls herself a "deco-twister" and specializes in balloncatures, or balloon caricatures, and ballowers, bouquets of balloon flowers.
A native of Dubach, La., Elam moved to Jackson in 2003 from Lafayette La., to work for Jackson State University's finance administration department. She currently works as an internal control officer at the university.
Elam hopes to grow her business into a retail store.
"It's just like getting paid to have fun," she says. "But it's not about the money, when people see you with balloons, their body language tells you it gives them great happiness."