I decorate people’s homes for Halloween. I started out of the trunk of my car and almost quit from the stress — but now I have my own staff and big commercial purchasers.

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Kelly Fitzsimmons wit ha light-up skull.
  • Kelly Fitzsimmons is the proprietor of Light Up Your Holidays, a vacation adorning service in Chicago.
  • Fitzsimmons started the enterprise from the trunk of her car in 2001. Now, she has six-figure purchasers.
  • She decorates for holidays like Halloween and Christmas, and mentioned she tailors designs to purchasers’ budgets and moods.

This as-told-to essay relies on a dialog with Kelly Fitzsimmons, proprietor of Light Up Your Holidays, a vacation adorning service in Chicago. It has been edited for size and readability.

I have been operating and working Light Up Your Holidays in the Chicago space for greater than 22 years. We decorate the exteriors of homes for Christmas and different holidays, like Halloween, which is changing into more and more widespread in our enterprise.

I have a buddy who’s a handyman who used to hold lights. He instructed me about how he’d get tremendous busy in September and October as a result of of vacation adorning. I discovered it fascinating, and the thought saved coming again to me over and over once more for the subsequent two weeks. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I think I’m supposed to do this.” I had no thought what it was, or the way to do it, but I felt like I was speculated to do it. It was almost like divine intervention.

In 2001, I started my enterprise out of the trunk of my two-seater car

It was a ridiculous endeavor. I acquired along with some mates, we handed out fliers, and I acquired 35 purchasers in the first yr.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

At the time, individuals did not know they might rent somebody to decorate their homes for the holidays. I did all the set up with some day laborers I employed to assist me. I was proud of my work, but it was so laborious. There are so much of logistics and transferring items that must be figured out in a really brief interval of time.

I cried each day, and I thought I was going to quit after the season. I was like, “I’m never doing that again.”

Then purchasers referred to as me the subsequent yr to do some adorning, and I hesitantly mentioned sure

It was kind of inertia at that time. I have a design background, a images background, and a advertising and marketing background, so I determined to tug all of it collectively and create this lovely service.

A jack-o-lantern made of lights.

It’s a notch above simply having a contractor come out and decorate your home, or hiring a landscaper who simply does adorning on the facet. It’s a full-fledged service that is design-forward with a really traditional, clear, and lovely look. Along the streets and streets of homes, you may inform which of them are embellished by Light Up Your Holidays.

To handle the firm effectively, I needed to run the enterprise year-round

I graduated to that stage as soon as I had sufficient purchasers. Since it is a seasonal enterprise, the hardest half was creating an infrastructure that allowed me to ramp up in such a brief interval of time on a extremely skilled stage. It includes eradicating the décor early in the yr, organizing the enterprise in the spring, starting planning with purchasers over the summer season, and getting ready for set up in the fall.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

There’s a ton of logistics concerned, together with getting the merchandise — from extension cords and timers to garland and lights — to the consumer’s home and ensuring the crew is aware of precisely what to do. We be sure that the energy for the lights is distributed precisely to all the retailers the consumer has. I’ve additionally discovered that this sort of enterprise just isn’t normally run by ladies.  I’m coping with contractors, 40-foot ladders, six-foot wreaths, and a big warehouse.

The enterprise has been an actual labor of love

In some methods, it was a love-hate relationship till I acquired the assist I wanted. I have a dependable staff of 5 full-time individuals and a big seasonal staff of about 30 individuals who assist help the course of.

A house decorated with purple lights.

From my own expertise operating a enterprise and changing into a mother or father, I realized my viewers is busy dad and mom and professionals. Digital advertising and marketing with banner adverts by means of Google and phrase of mouth are the handiest methods I discover prospects. I need the proper individuals to seek out me so I can take care of them and turn out to be half of their vacation traditions.

I’m a geek relating to Halloween and Christmas

I’m at all times enjoyable new merchandise, and I adore it when my purchasers say they need to take Halloween to the subsequent stage with their adorning. I’ve discovered that in the previous few years, individuals have started  to turn out to be conscious that you may rent somebody to decorate the exterior of their homes for Halloween. Now, about 20% of my purchasers decorate for Halloween.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

I’m additionally seeing producers making cooler merchandise that I need to set up, like mild up sugar skulls and spooky, inexperienced mild up eyes. We decorate with superb, distinctive décor you may’t discover in shops. I work with many trusted distributors who, in spite of everything my time in the trade, now contact me with decor concepts and items.

Holiday lighting is a really small world, and I initially met my contacts by means of an electrician that mentored me. I’d additionally met a distributor who had conferences and workshops that I would go to and meet individuals at. I’m at all times asking my contacts to push the envelope in phrases of design and creating one thing cool.

A green light decoration.

I’ve observed that so much of the decorations individuals should buy on-line or in shops are so delicate or low cost that you simply’re fortunate to get one season out of it. I use objects which are meant for commercial set up, so I know the merchandise can be dependable and my consumer will have a profitable season regardless of the rain or snow.

For Halloween, we will do gory or enjoyable and spooky

The theme actually will depend on if the household has kids and what their ages are. I suppose it is humorous that our tradition may be prudes in so some ways, but relating to Halloween, individuals do not thoughts blood, cut-off heads, knives, and all these actually excessive issues.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

I choose to not dabble in that. If purchasers have that décor already and they need to rent me to place it up, of course I will, but it is not what I curate and design. I’d relatively have one thing that is edgy and spooky and artistic — not simply blood and gore. I suppose purchasers recognize that, even when their youngsters need gore.

We wish to have all our Halloween décor put in the final week of September so our purchasers can have it up for a whole month. However, we’re seeing so much of purchasers bounce on board the first two weeks of October as a result of that is after they notice it is a service they’ll rent for.

When I meet with a consumer, I create designs for their price range

I’ve had very giant commercial initiatives that have price a whole bunch of 1000’s of {dollars}. I additionally nonetheless decorate for  a consumer who’s been with me for 20 years and has a really small price range. I make sure that to have open and candid conversations with my purchasers as a result of design can actually increase or contract relying on type, price range, and the structure of the house.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

My job is to make purchasers really feel proud and enthusiastic about their vacation house after they drive down the road and flip into their driveway. It can put a smile on their faces and really feel magical. They can actually have fun with their household, their friends, and their complete neighborhood.

I urge individuals to relinquish the aggressive spirit round vacation adorning. It’s necessary to keep in mind that lights of all kinds — even when persons are laughing at them — are elevating the vibration and bringing pleasure to individuals.

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