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Rising Stars: Meet McKenzie Alvidrez of American Fork

Today we’d like to introduce you to McKenzie Alvidrez.

Hi McKenzie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
About 3 years ago I got a phone call from my aunt Sarah who lives in California. She had started her own balloon business & she was calling to tell me I needed to try my hand at balloon styling. She said something to the extent of “I think you should try this.

I think you would like it, I think you’d be really good at it, & I think you should do it before it ‘hits’ Utah because we both know once it does it, will blow up there”. At the time, balloon businesses were already popping up all over other states like California, Texas, & some southern states. I knew my aunt was right- if I didn’t start now I wouldn’t be established in Utah by the time it got popular here.

At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of two small kids, supporting my husband in his career- which required a lot, & we were living in an apartment that didn’t offer much space or natural light. I was in a stage of life where I was constantly giving to my family & didn’t have much “of my own” in terms of interests or hobbies. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom & be able to devote most of my time to my boys, but I wasn’t feeling totally fulfilled.

Being a mom is hard work, but it’s the kind of work that I think many women will agree feels invisible at times. Even when it’s the work you’ve always wanted to do, & even when you have a spouse/partner who is appreciative of the work you’re doing, it can leave you feeling burnt out. The stage of life I was in had me craving something that was “just mine”, that didn’t have anything to do with being a mom and wife. Being a mom was still my dream job, but everyone still needs things that fulfill them outside of work.

So I decided to take the plunge and start Lou Balloons. It was pretty rough at first. Not only did I not believe in myself fully, but I was able to see pretty quickly that not many people saw the value in what I was offering. I remember making a balloon garland for a baby shower as one of my first (unpaid) jobs and there were some comments made about how “anyone can do it”.

I thought to myself – “How am I supposed to make this a business if even the people in my inner circle don’t see the value in it?” I think at the time even my husband was doubtful. His words were supportive, but I could tell behind his eyes were some doubt & fear that this was going to have a negative impact on our family financially.

Things were slow at first & I was doing jobs here and there for a few family and friends and not making much of a profit if any.

At one point, I even told my husband I wanted to take a step back and felt I needed to take on even less business. I couldn’t make sense of why I felt that way because I wasn’t doing a ton of business as it was. But I’m so glad I listened to that inner voice because it turned out that “step back” was the pause I needed to ground myself right before things took off.

In 2021, I had my first busy year. For the first time since that conversation with my aunt, I felt like an actual business owner. I had finally gained the experience & confidence I needed to raise my prices & I was doing balloons consistently. Not only was I doing consistent work, but I was making a consistent profit.

I was gaining a supportive clientele and community of people on social media. Strangers and people I had never met were complimenting my work & I was connecting with more people than I had ever imagined.

Now, running Lou Balloons is part of my everyday life. I do some aspect of work in my business almost every single day & I get to create beautiful balloon installations for amazing clients. I truly never thought I’d be here today, but here I am!

Not a day goes by that I’m not overwhelmed with gratitude for this entire journey & I can’t wait to see all that’s in store for Lou Balloons.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been a bumpy one for sure. Overcoming my own self-doubt has probably been my biggest obstacle. Overcoming the doubt of others is a close second.

And then there have been more tangible obstacles like a worldwide balloon shortage, helium shortage, & pandemic. Juggling raising kids, running a household, & running a business is something that I continue to struggle to find the balance. Almost every lesson has been learned by trial and error.

I’ve learned & grown so much, but there is still plenty of room for me to learn and grow.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Lou Balloons offers balloon styling for the things worth celebrating. This includes balloon garlands, large & small-scale balloon installations, & custom jumbo helium balloons.

The majority of my business is made up of balloon installations. I come to the clients’ homes/venues and style a beautiful balloon garland for their events. I style garlands as small as 6 feet & I’ve done installations as large as 400 sq feet.

I create balloon magic for all sorts of events from birthdays to baby showers, corporate events, weddings, holiday parties, etc. the possibilities really are endless.

What matters most to you?
The driving force behind my business, my “why”, is my family. It’s kind of funny that I started Lou Balloons as something for myself, outside of my family, & the thing that keeps me moving forward is my family.

Lou Balloons has been a way for me to model for my two sons that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. I want them to see me chase a dream. I want them to see the sacrifice and work that it requires, & also the reward that can come from your efforts. Mostly, I want to teach them to dream big.

Life is too short to not do the thing, take the chance, take the shot, etc. I am not joking when I tell you that every time I feel scared posting something on social media, putting myself out there, or sending a proposal, I pause and remind myself that I never want my kids to hold themselves back because of someone else’s thoughts… and then I do the thing.

Another thing that I really value is human connection & Lou Balloons has brought me more of that than I could’ve ever imagined.

I am the person who strikes up a conversation with a stranger in a grocery store. (But seriously just last week someone was looking at a drink in the store and I started telling them how much my husband loves that same drink). I love talking to the cashier in a drive-through and asking them how their day is.

I can’t help myself, I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy hearing people’s stories. Through my business, I’ve crossed paths with so many people who’ve opened up to me and shared pieces of their stories & life with me. To them, it might just be a conversation, but to me, it is so special. I feel extremely grateful that I get to connect with so many people through my balloons.

Contact Info:

  • Email: louballoons.ut@gmail.com
  • Website: louballoons.com
  • Instagram: @louballoons

Image Credits
Pete Stott

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