Designer Showcase: DeAndra Crismon
Like many others, DeAndra attended many childhood birthday parties for neighborhood friends, classmates, and relatives. She remembers always being fascinated by the decorations at each event. She often dreamt of what her party would look like and how she would decorate with balloons to make it more festive. Today, she’s living her dream.
DeAndra Crismon is the Founder and Creative Director of Party Shop Avenue in Los Angeles, CA, USA. She started her business in 2017 with a lot of trial and error. Eventually, she says, she found her style and the company took off! "I remember when I first started my business; no one understood exactly what I was doing. When I mentioned I was going into the balloon industry, I think people thought I was just going to be a local balloon girl, but what they didn't see was my vision. If someone had told me five years ago, I would be a balloon designer; I probably would have laughed!"
Party Shop Avenue offers a wide range of balloon products and services, including party decor. DeAndra’s designs are as diverse as the events for which she is hired. These include birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, weddings, galas, social media influencer events, and corporate occasions. No matter the theme, the design always includes her signature California flair of florals, greenery, and neutral and pastel colors. She uses Qualatex latex to achieve this look because of their vibrancy, durability, and size range.
Her favorite part of being a balloon artist is exercising her creativity. DeAndra’s clients share their ideas and then give her full control to bring their dream to life. “None of my clients really no how I do what I do, so they just let me create amazing masterpieces and trust the outcome.” Her business is home-based, and it’s a family affair. “We used to have a studio, but I found that we were always on the go, so it was just an empty space. I might open up a shop again in the future — still deciding! I currently have a team of four ladies, which consist of my two sisters, niece, and best friend. I’m a big believer in putting your family first. I'm considering hiring a bigger team in the upcoming year. I feel like it’s time to expand.” Holidays, especially Christmas, are especially busy times for the Party Shop. She continues to dream about balloons, including her ideal balloon job of decorating for fashion week in Los Angeles or New York. "I love fashion, so being able to design for one of the shows would be super dope!"
Though initially self-taught, DeAndra knows her peers are always willing and eager to share ideas and techniques. She picked up a lot of inspiration and education at the 2016 World Balloon Convention. “I would say further your education; I believe we should always be students in life and open to developing new skills. I'm working on an exclusive Party Shop Avenue balloon course to help others grow their businesses and create amazing designs.” DeAndra credits Geronimo for getting her started in the balloon business as well as the Australians designers, who she “swears are balloon magicians as everything is next level!”
As a black artisan, DeAndra feels a special calling to inspire and mentor other minority balloon professionals. Party Shop Avenue was one of the first bespoke black-owned balloon companies in the LA area.
I've been in the process of working on material to help the black community, so we have a place at the table. I feel like our talents have been disregarded for a long time. My mission is to change the status quo and create a platform where I am known for my beautiful work. I hid behind the scenes for a while because, believe it or not, people weren't supporting black businesses as much as they are now. I purposely made my Instagram a specific way so clients will book before they judge. I present myself with professionalism and kindness every single day. I’ve had challenges in all aspects, from walking into venues, getting side-eyes, and curiosity as to why I was there. It’s been a hard journey, but I made it through, and still have a long way to go. In the black community, we have to move differently in the world to be respected. I want to help future generations become successful in any industry — especially the events industry. It's truly my goal in life.
To sustain and grow her business, DeAndra relies on her Mac Book, Instagram, Pinterest, and building relationships. “My MacBook is where I create all of my proposals and designs in one place; it's definitely my lifeline. Instagram and Pinterest are huge tools for us because it’s how we showcase our work to a larger audience. Being proactive on social media can be a task, but it’s so worth it at the end. Lastly, building relationships is the TOP essential for my business because forming relationships creates growth. When I meet new people and tell them about my business, my network gets bigger and better. Now I attract the clients I want.”
Be sure you’re doing balloons because you love it not because it’s what trending right now. Clients can feel if you’re just trying to make a quick buck or really have a passion for the business. Also, be patient, be kind, and don't put a lot of pressure on yourself. Everything will come in due time with persistence.