Molly Munyan had her balloon dress idea as a senior in high school when she tried out to become homecoming queen. Molly had been working on the side as a balloon artist for parties, but by her senior year, she was dreaming bigger.
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“I wanted to walk down the field at the homecoming game in a balloon dress,” she said. So she spent the summer practicing, and in the fall, Molly realized that it was actually her dream. She was voted homecoming queen and got to wear a bright blue, two-piece balloon dress on the football field. As told by Mcclain Johnson.
But the balloon-making didn’t go away with homecoming. Molly became a professional balloon artist working kid and adult parties in Kansas City, and she has embraced her career to the point where she has adopted a new name. “I am Molly Balloons,” she said. “Even if you met me in the grocery store, ’Hi, I’m Molly Balloons.’”
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Molly Balloons first went viral last year when her hometown team the Kansas City Royals went to the World Series and she created a different Royals-themed balloon dress for each game. Before the project took off, the people around Molly told her that it didn’t make sense. “They said, ’Molly, I don’t know if this World Series dress line is the best use of your time,’” she recalled. “’It’s really time-consuming and nobody’s paying you.’” But the dresses were a major success. At team’s victory parade, she wore a floor-length blue balloon gown. “I had probably between two and 40 cameras pointed at me for four hours straight,” Molly said. “I was like, ’Whoa, this is huge.’”
The balloon dress has now become a core part of Molly’s business. Though she still makes balloon art at high-end parties, she gets more requests to go to events wearing balloon dresses and standing around “as an art piece.” For a three-hour job, she once got paid $1,500. Besides to building her business, she wants to dress a celebrity for a red carpet event within the next two years, create a costume for a music video, and make a hat for Ellen DeGeneres.
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Molly considers herself an artist and something of a fashion designer. “I see shapes and lines and designs through nature and architecture and people’s clothes,” she said. “Ideas come to me at stoplights. I don’t watch TV and rarely watch movies, I just watch fashion shows.” In March, she designed an eight-piece collection of balloon dresses and had a fashion show of her own.
But the long hours, physical strain, and other factors don’t take away from Molly’s total joy in having found the thing that she was meant to do. “It’s called ikigai in Japanese culture,” she said. “It’s the thing that you’re good at, that you love to do, that can pay you, and what the world needs. I was born to be fun at parties. In fact, I’m so fun at parties that people drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars for me to come to their parties. I can’t believe that I get to do this everyday. I’m so infinitely grateful that I found balloons.”
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