We had the good fortune of connecting with Elisabeth Irwin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elisabeth, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Generally, I think the idea of taking risks and the idea of getting out of your comfort zone are too conflated. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world will be the first ones to tell you they are incredibly risk-averse in business. Some will say that in order to win it all you have to risk it all, but as someone with a family, there’s no way in hell I’d risk my home, watching my kids grow up, or time with my husband for a big paycheck. What I do believe in, however, is doing things that make you uncomfortable.
Making the choice to start a business on your own is an incredibly scary one. Questions like, ‘what if no one ever hires me?,’ ‘how will I pay for insurance?,’ and ‘how will I ever compete with the big dogs?’ are constantly playing in the background for every business owner, but if we all just continued doing what we’ve always been comfortable doing, there would never be innovation. Think about if Sarah Blakely decided to just continue selling printers because she was comfortable? We’d never have Spanx. Or if Walt Disney decided to draw political cartoons for newspapers for the rest of his life? We’d certainly never have Moana (and let me tell you, we are BIG Moana fans in this house). Those people, and many more, were not big risk takers. They kept their “comfortable” jobs while starting their hustle. They ensured they could pay their bills before they went all-in on their craft. They did not take big risks – they took calculated, tiny steps outside of their comfort zone over many months and years, and that is what paid off for them in the long run.
You’ll always hear about the person who “risked it all” and became a mogul because it’s newsworthy – it’s not the norm. But 99% of the most successful businesses were not built on big risk and big reward. They were built out of calculated decisions and intense discomfort, and that it what I challenge myself to do every day as a business owner – if I can do at least one thing each day that gets me out of my comfort zone that means I’m moving forward and my business is too.
What should our readers know about your business?
I started Pop of Color balloon design in February of this year after making balloon garlands for fun for the last several years. I had quit my 9 to 5 in January of last year, right before the pandemic hit, to be home with my children, and the reality of being home 24/7 with a toddler and a newborn set in pretty quickly (if you didn’t already know, being a stay-at-home mom is NOT the glamour that you might imagine). As we trudged through the pandemic I started yearning to have something for myself again. I love my children more than anything, but I was feeling a real need to have an outlet outside of being ‘mom.’ So after some prodding from my husband I made the decision to jump in and create an LLC for the thing I am most passionate about – balloons.
As fate would have it, it was probably the best timing to start a balloon design business that I could have chosen because pretty quickly after starting the business people were ready to see friends and family and make up for lost celebrating that they had missed last year. Pop of Color took on a life of its own, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have amazing clients who have supported me all along the way. I never dreamed that this little passion of mine would turn into the thriving business it is today, but I am so thankful that it has.
Don’t get me wrong, exponential growth over a very short period of time is great, but definitely doesn’t come without its challenges. As you can imagine, I was a very inexperienced business owner. There’s so much more that goes into creating and sustaining a successful business than throwing up some pretty balloons at parties, and that has definitely been the biggest challenge I’ve faced. It feels as though there’s been no time for me to stop, breathe, and take inventory of the business side of things; small business taxes?! How the heck do I do those? Can I automate parts of my process? If so, how? And how do I balance owning a business while still being the primary caretaker for our kids? These, and many more, are real-life challenges I face every day, and it’s been an uphill battle learning so much so quickly. Still, through it all, I feel so incredibly blessed and thankful to have this opportunity, and to have a wonderful community of people to fall back on when I face hardships.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a local biz fanatic, so this is a tough one. But here goes:
Saturday morning: Workout sesh at Orangetheory Fitness
Saturday brunch: Chelsea’s Kitchen for their amazing chilaquiles and awesome patio
Saturday pool day: Lylo’s Swim Club. They have grown-up Dole Whip, need I say more?
Saturday dinner: Renata’s Hearth. The best meal you will eat in your life.
Sunday: Head to the McCormick Stillman train park with the kiddos
Monday: Shopping at The Frederick from the best boutiques
Tuesday: Pick up some pie from Pie Snob for dessert with dinner
Wednesday: Head over to the Phoenix Zoo for some family fun
Thursday: Postino bruschetta board for lunch
Friday: End of week cocktails at Century Grand
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband is such an amazing support system for me. From the moment we met, he encouraged me to follow my dreams and passions. When I told him I wanted to become an Orangetheory Fitness instructor, he let me practice my coaching on him. When I said I wanted to create a YouTube channel to share tips and inspiration for fellow moms he was my first subscriber. And when I started making my first balloon garlands for fun several years ago, he pushed me to create an LLC and put myself out there. He’s my rock and my biggest fan, and without his encouragement Pop of Color wouldn’t exist.
Barbie photo: Honeys Blooms is the other vendor involved