Jason Vaughn, an owner of Higher Hope Entertainment in St. Louis, began entertaining as a balloon artist before he was 20. That was over six years ago. His entertainment services include not only balloons but storytelling and musical shows for children, as well. (See www.higherhopeentertainment.com )
His interest in balloons began when he was on a mission trip to Miami and saw someone perform Ralph Dewey’s ‘Jonah and the Whale’. He learned how to perform that bit, then he realized he could make money entertaining with balloons, he said.
Soon after, he began performing at a Chick-fil-a restaurant, then added more restaurants and birthday parties, and before you know it he was busy. “At first it was a side income,” he said, “and I wasn’t involved in the balloon community.”
These days he is a full-time entertainer. Other roles include marketing consultant and contributor to various industry resources such as MBD2, BalloonHQ, and the Ask the Entertainer internet series advice column, he said.
“One of the ways to become better known in the industry is to become a professional and one way to do that is to give advice,” Vaughn said.
Many balloon entertainers may be familiar with his Ballooncast podcasts which interviewed many of the innovators and leaders in the industry. According to Vaughn, Steven Jones, owner of Aeradeco, bought Ballooncast and may develop it further.
Vaughn released a book earlier this year titled How to Market Your Business: 51 Ways to Prosper in Any Economy. “Knowledge is worthless,” he said, “it’s the applied knowledge, the wisdom, that we all need.” The book can be purchased at www.51waystoprosper.com
Meanwhile, he is one busy guy, attending college majoring in religion and intercultural studies. In addition, he is working on a micro-continuity 16-week course that will focus on various aspects of building a business. Not only is Vaughn into entertaining and marketing, he recently acted in his first national commercial. “I’m a big guy,” Vaughn explained, “ and it was an Overeaters Anonymous PSA. I have a friend that recommended it, he couldn’t do it because he was skinny.”
What motivates Vaughn? “Bills!” he exclaimed. Actually, he finds motivation from other motivational speakers. “I’m a big fan of Zig Ziglar who said plan every day like you’re headed to vacation.” He also enjoys others such as Seth Godin and the speakers who are proponents of the direct response form of marketing, like Bill Glazer, he said.
He loves working with children and running the marketing component of his business. “I get to combine two things that I really love,” he said. “For a lot of people (in the industry) their creative outlet is creating the balloon sculptures. For me, my creative outlet is the marketing.”
“I’m not a creative twister,” Vaughn continued, “I could name 150 twisters that are better than me, but I love marketing.” He also enjoys teaching. “That’s the biggest challenge in our entertainment industry,” he said, noting that at conventions the marketing classes are always poorly attended.
“Lord willing, I will be doing this until I die,” he said.