Meet: Rebecca Moyster
Rebecca Moyster studied BA (Hons) Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2004. After a successful career working in product development at Burberry and the Designers Guild, she decided to quit her job to follow her dream of perusing her own idea. This led to her launching the highly original and successful luxury balloon business, Bonbon Balloons.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins I got an internship with Burberry, and I ended up staying there for two and a half years working in product development. It was quite different to textiles design, hard work but really fun. I developed the lines for the handbag and jewellery runway collections. After a few years I moved to the Designers Guild, still working in product development, but with more management and pure fabric development.
Then, four years ago, I just decided to leave my job and start my own business. I didn’t really have a business idea, I just knew that I wanted to go out on my own, and it was now or never.
About a week after quitting my job I had the idea for Bonbon Balloons. I was looking at some sketch books on my table, and I saw these Tim Walker photographs with giant balloons on the sea and my brain started ticking… Giant balloons… Why don’t you see them? They’re amazing! I also started thinking about the balloon string and how it usually just a plain bit of string that gets ignored, and I thought how cool it would be to have decorative string. It escalated really quickly. I thought of the name that night and registered it, but I didn’t know anything about balloons. So then I spent the next six months trying to learn and making mistakes, working on the identity of the brand, how I wanted it to look, the logo, photography etc. and then launched it. That was four years ago, and we have been trading ever since.
I have never had to spend much money on marketing because the balloons promote themselves at events. Instagram didn’t exist when I launched on social media, I was just using Facebook and Twitter – and I got picked up by blogs and press straight away, and the momentum started to build from there. Then the first company that contacted me were Dior in Paris. It blew my mind, I nearly fell off my chair in the one desk studio in Angel I was renting at the time.
We are a luxury balloon company who work with each client in a really bespoke way, creating something exactly to their preference. Everything is from scratch and so creatively we never get bored, it’s always different. We work with luxury fashion brands, PR companies, events, venues, weddings, parties as well as individual clients. We also offer the ‘balloon in a box’ service which enables you to order a balloon with a personalised message – the balloon gets delivered and floats up out of a beautifully packaged box when opened. They are really durable and will still be floating five weeks later (they last longer than flowers).
We source our balloons from a traditional balloon supplier, but we use them differently. All the confetti we use is hand cut and hand inserted into the balloon, so we can use any colour/pattern. We design and make everything in the studio, and everything is hand crafted. Nothing is off the peg, and we adapt it for every client.
We’re now based in a studio in Dalston, and I have a team of three people working with me in the studio. When we have larger jobs we call on other freelance creatives. We’re not a traditional balloon company – there’s nothing we could have ever been taught from another balloon company – so the people that work for us don’t have to have any experience working with balloons, they just need to be creative and have a really good eye. It works really well because we have a great collective of different backgrounds when we do events.
When you’re setting up on your own you almost have to have a big heap of nativity – I look back four years on and I’m not the same person I was. Now it feels really reckless just giving up my career to start my own business.
The most daunting thing I faced was the constant mistakes. Still now we make mistakes, but at first you make LOADS. And obviously you learn from them, which is the lesson, but it’s still really hard to swallow. You’re constantly not quite sure how to do things because there’s no handbook on it.
I was also following a business model that I’d never seen before, so there was nothing to compare it to.
Something that is a constant challenge to us is those that see our ideas and also want to pursue them. It does strengthen the trend, but we also have to be really mindful of copyright, because there are certain companies who have really infringed on our copyright. We are putting ourselves out there on Instagram all the time and telling everyone what we’re doing, so it is part of it. The way we deal with it now is to just create something new, we never sit with the same ideas, which keeps things really fresh.
We are constantly expanding. The next step is to expand to international markets, so we can offer the services we offer in London in other places, inflated. We want to take what we have done here and bring it to other places.
Creatively we want to keep working with the great brands that we’re working with, pushing things and doing new installations. Our business is great because it’s totally led by who we work with. We’re usually given free reign with the projects as well. The team love it because one week is never the same as the next.