Those driving through Toano this weekend might see a flourish of pink balloons strung up alongside a historic building.
The balloons aren’t for a birthday party, though. They represent a new business started by two Williamsburg locals looking to provide a pop of color and celebration to the area.
“As our website says, we wanted to create something that embraces a touch of the south, friendship, fashion and celebration,” said Madison Heath, co-owner of the Poppin’ Peony.
The idea for the business started just a few months ago when co-owners and friends Heath, 22, and Valorie Kelley, 28, decided they wanted to open a business that incorporated their love for the bridal industry, backgrounds in sales and event planning.
Heath worked at various bridal stores, event sites and other aspects of the bridal industry in addition to starting her own handmade earring business, Hooked Earring Company.
Kelley worked in sales for many years, but when she moved to Williamsburg she quit her full time job to become a photographer that worked weddings.
The pair met during Sunday school at a local church and instantly connected with their backgrounds and passions.
“We got to know each other and had conversations about starting a local boutique,” Heath said. “We wanted something where we could meet new people in the area and be part of someone else’s life by creating these connections.”
The pair started doing their research and decided to open a boutique that provided fashion accessories, formal dresses such as for a wedding or date, and balloon installations for events.
Heath said they had never considered balloon installations before but had seen them featured at various events and businesses. They looked up tutorial videos online, practiced with a variety of different balloons and styles and eventually learned how to create something beautiful out of helium and rubber.
“It’s a great way to add a sense of party and detail and it creates an experience with balloons that adds a little celebration,” Heath said.
But the women were starting a business in the middle of a pandemic which made them realize it was the perfect time to sell online. The Poppin’ Peony opened its virtual doors in July and eventually hosted its first pop-up location just a few weeks later.
Heath said the idea of pop-up locations seemed very natural for the business because it helps build the brand’s awareness while the pair continues to build a following. Eventually they would like to move to an official location but for now they are simply working on creating something fun and exciting for their customers.
“We’re just trying to learn,” Heath said. “I’ve never really opened a retail business so we are just going through growing pains and learning about running a business.”
Heath said it has been her lifelong goal to own a business because she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps, who has owned a business for 30 years. Both business owners want to grow the Poppin’ Peony into something they can run for years to come while spending time with their families and traveling wherever life takes them.
The duo plans to host more pop-up locations and continue building an online presence.
“Being born and raised here, this is where my roots are so I just want to be able to share that connection with people,” Heath said. “We want to be a part of people’s lives.”
The Poppin’ Peony will host its next pop-up event on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at the Toano Historical Society on Richmond Road. Guests will be encouraged to wear facemasks and practice social distancing.
Visit the Poppin’ Peony online to learn more.
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