BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - One Baton Rouge woman whose spirit radiates through the vibrant and quirky art she taught herself to create has blossomed into a successful business. It all started as community service, but that service is now rewarding her beyond her wildest dreams.
There’s no denying the mark her colorful personality and talents have made all over Louisiana. When you see work like hers, you know Stephanie Morace is behind it. She has brightened up balconies, events, and parties from Baton Rouge to New Orleans with her balloon art.
“I’m just in my element," Morace said of her work.
The elaborate displays, like balloon beads hanging from a home’s balcony along the Spanish Town parade route, actually started as a small, free gift from Morace to the community.
“My church actually bought me some balloons and a pump. They wanted me to make balloons at community events,” she said.
Little did Morace know that little pump was the first step toward a new career. The LSU biological and agricultural engineering graduate worked for environmental companies in Louisiana for a decade, but in her spare time, she taught herself balloon art. She’d make animals and hats for free, spreading joy to children at LSU games and during times when they needed a smile the most.
“Anytime someone would give me a tip in the beginning, I would take that money and buy more balloons and give those balloons away. Baseball games and football games and even got to do some of the shelters after the flood. I was able to take a lot of those donated balloons and make a lot of kids happy," said Morace.
Morace eventually took her newfound love to a competitive level, beating artists from around the world. She took the title of Top Twister of 2019 in Chicago.
The demand for her work grew, so much so that she was able to walk away from her day job and open her company, called Balloonatics of Baton Rouge.
“I mean, the beads are fun for Mardi Gras, but we do stuff all year for weddings, for birthday parties, inside, outside...“ Morace said. “It’s just blowing us away, the amount of people who are interested and that know, and I love the fact when I go to Walmart now, people are like, 'I follow you on Instagram!”
Coming from the tiny town of Pollock, Louisiana, Morace says she’s now living what she calls “the Louisiana dream."
”Grew up not even thinking this was a possibility, so to me, Louisiana is this land of opportunity too because I was able to go from something completely different and just pour myself into this and within just a couple of years have a business, have a successful business and it just shows Louisiana loves to support each other," Morace said. “I pinch myself a lot because I wake up and I actually love what I get to do every day. People tell you to do what you love, but sometimes people just have to do what pays the bills and I totally get that, so getting the opportunity to do what I love is a huge blessing. I feel very blessed.”
It’s a blessing she says she’ll never take for granted as she makes her home state more beautiful one pop of color at a time.
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