UNT student continues father’s dreams and legacy, one balloon at a time

UNT student continues father’s dreams and legacy, one balloon at a time

UNT student continues father’s dreams and legacy, one balloon at a time
September 12
11:00 2018

Hospitality management senior Brandon Nowell is not your typical college student. From running a business with his family to being a certified balloon artist, Brandon entails what it is like to pursue a different path than others.

“I’ve said it several times: I want to be like my dad, I want to be just like my dad,” Brandon said. “Which I know is contradictory to what a lot of people want to do.”

Brandon’s father passed away in Sept. 2016 due to a motor vehicle accident, leaving behind his wife Joanie, Brandon, and his sister Meaghan. The night of Sept. 13 would be the last time Brandon would see his dad, who was getting ready to work overnight. It would be the following morning that he would wake up to the screams of his mother and the news.

“That whole week and a lot of that semester is very foggy to me,” Brandon said

After the accident, Brandon decided to take over his father’s balloon-making business, An Occasion Station. His father had a passion for the business, which initially started from finding a single box of defected balloons. Brandon says he remembers the hose of the compressor stretched across the house as his father filled each one in the living room.

Not only did it blossom into a balloon business, it eventually gave rise to a company also focused on event planning and decorating.

“[An Occasion Station] works as whatever we want it to be,” Brandon said. “It doesn’t specifically say balloons in the name.”

Ever since he was a little kid, Brandon was surrounded by the family business. Being a part of the business for many years meant that he learned and developed many skills at a young age. At age 4, he was teaching adults how to build 5-foot sculptures. At age 19, he was awarded at the World Balloon Convention, making him one of the youngest winners to ever win an individual title.

“He has an artistic vision and brings smiles and happiness to kids of all ages,” his mother Joanie Nowell said.

As a student and a businessman, days can be rather challenging for Brandon. It is the constant reminder of his father that pushes him to do bigger and better things.

“I think ‘What would dad do?’ [a lot]” Brandon said. “I have to do some things that are personally outside of my comfort zone.”

Over the years of working alongside his family, Brandon has learned and experienced many things. Working with loved ones has taught him valuable lessons about sacrifice, determination and discipline.

“Because we had a family business, we were able to teach our kids important lessons that will stay with them and guide them throughout their lives,” Joanie said.

One thing he finds to be his favorite part about working the job is the reaction from people and customers. When it comes to balloons, people are doubtful of what can be created from such material. It is the element of surprise and astonishment from people that he enjoys.

“It is a moment of pure joy and really what true magic is,” Brandon said. “True magic is not making something disappear and reappear, it is [the] joy, pure joy of a child’s face.”

An Occasion Station has evolved into a family business impacting the lives of many people with their simple designs. Customers say they appreciate the creative work of the Nowell family.

“They were able to come up with great designs within our budget and made our event come alive,” customer Heather Robertson Cain said. “They are creative, professional and kind as can be.”

Although Brandon is working alongside his family, he is independently living up to his father’s legacy. Being the only full-time employee at An Occasion Station, Brandon is managing 9-10 employees on his own. In the future, he hopes to expand both the team and the business.

“I would like to continue working the business and growing the business to where hopefully we have a couple full-time employees and potentially get our own place,” Brandon said.

Featured Image: Hospitality management senior Brandon Nowell stands with the balloon dog he created. Nowell has designed many different balloon animals since joining the balloon making business. Cameron Roe

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Sergio Benitez

Sergio Benitez

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