When it comes to balloons, the types of intricate designs a person can create with latex or rubber is endless. All you need is vision and skill—and balloon artist Josephine Villaseñor is in no short supply.
“I love to create things, from clothes to balloon sculptures,” Villaseñor said. “I am always exploring what I can create with balloons.”
Sure, the 37-year-old Long Beach resident and owner of Long Beach Balloons & More, which opened in March 2017, can make the typical balloon bundles filled with assorted colors and inflatable numbers or animals—but the real magic is when she assembles them into sculptures, bouquets, columns, arches, even rigging balloons to a ceiling for a cloud effect, a veritable balloon eco-system.
And while inflating so many balloons may seem overwhelming, she says the key to working swiftly and efficiently is inflating two balloons at a time with her dual nozzle air machine. If she doesn’t have her machine, then she has to be consistent in the number of pumps needed using her hand pump.
Usually, it takes 10 or 12 pumps to make the ideal balloon size, but a trained balloon artist will know to factor in the sun and heat to avoid popping or expanding a balloon, so eight to 10 pumps will usually do, Villaseñor said.
“It’s a trick of the trade,” Villaseñor says of her process.
Villaseñor gets her inspiration from listening to her clients’ ideas and themes. Then a picture will start to form in her mind of what it will look like; at times she’ll draw out her vision too.
Her talent seems to be both in-born (her family includes creative types like singers, writers and artists) and a consequence of being in the industry for 22 years. She got her first job at a party supply store in her native Whittier when she was 14.
It also doesn’t hurt that she has been trained and certified in the art of balloon making. There’s even an official convention that takes place throughout the country (though she hasn’t been able to attend one yet) and showcases some of the most intricate designs.
She even uses her creativity when making piñatas for clients, another service she offers along with renting out bounce houses, linen, chairs and other supplies.
On Yelp, many have given Villaseñor rave reviews, noting her ability to go beyond what they envision.
“The balloon arrangements were above and beyond my expectations,” according to a Yelp reviewer in November. “Josephine took my vision and made it better than what I expected.”
Locals shouldn’t be surprised to come across her work at city events. Her services have been used by various City Council members and departments. Local private businesses have also used her. She’s even been booked for Hollywood celebrity parties.
“I have one celebrity client whose wife goes to me, and he talks about my work to everyone,” said Villaseñor, who kept the name under wraps.
It started with officials from a production company who walked into a store in Whittier she worked at previously, she said. From there, they sent her jobs or booked her into their company, and little by little she started getting noticed and referred to other events.
While her year-and-a-half-old business is mobile at the moment, Villaseñor hopes to find a permanent location in Central Long Beach or Midtown.
Villaseñor said her business is growing “by leaps and bounds” and credits her team’s customer service. She aims to go over the top with clients and, ultimately, it’s about being a good listener.
“You must listen to what your clients want, their ideas, their theme, their colors and then you can create something unique and tailored to their event,” Villaseñor said.
She also donates her services and creations to some organizations and associations which has helped spread the word of her business.
It doesn’t hurt that Villaseñor’s volunteerism takes her all over the city and beyond.
Villaseñor is a member of 29 different organizations including the Veterans Independence Day Celebration, the Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance, the Wrigley Community Neighborhood Watch (which she founded in 2015) and Long Beach Community Emergency Response Team. She is also certified in CPR and first aid and knows how to douse a fire properly.
She’s such an active member of her community that in 2016 she also ran for City Council hoping to represent the 6th District.
“I was taught to always help those in need for one day we might end up where they are or in a similar situation,” said Villaseñor.
While Villasenor has faced hardships in her life—she has survived cancer, once defended herself during an attack by two men and has overcome homelessness—she wouldn’t change a thing.
“It has made me stronger, more open, more compassionate, more aware of what is going on,” Villaseñor said. “ Yes, there is good in the world but there is also the dark side and my job is to shine a light over that darkness.”
Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.
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