Christen Byrd studied graphic design at the University of Central Arkansas, which led her into the creative industry and a range of positions that included book designer for a publishing company and creative director at Little Rock’s beloved Loblolly Creamery.
Her work at Loblolly led directly to her beginning Just Peachy — the Little Rock-based balloon, custom party decoration and rental business — in 2019.
In her free time, Christen enjoys working on a seemingly endless list of home projects in her family’s historic house in the Governor’s Mansion District, where she lives with her husband Ryan, daughters Lucy and Olive, and son Max. She has called Little Rock home for 15 years.
As a small business owner, what is your vision for your business and our community?
We're primarily known for our one-of-a-kind, over-the-top balloon creations, but we always say that we aren't actually a balloon company. We're a joy company. Our tagline is "We bring the happy," and that's exactly what our mission is at Just Peachy. Whether it's balloons or event planning or rentals, we absolutely love to provide services that make people smile and experience happiness. Especially a couple years into the pandemic, it's been great to see even just a small light in peoples' lives from what we create.
What advice do you have for keeping a team focused and motivated in challenging
Like all business owners and their businesses, we've certainly had our fair share of challenging times in the past couple years. I hired my very first employees about a month into the pandemic in 2020, so it's pretty much all our team has ever known. In those challenging times, we really try to lean into and remember the mission of Just Peachy. … We try to focus on the joy our services bring people. So even when we're stretched thin or discouraged or overwhelmed, we know that when we do our job well, it injects a much-needed dose of happiness into the lives of our customers and community.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I'm proud of and look back fondly on quite a few moments and experiences in my career, but starting my own business is definitely the highlight. Starting and running a business is hard for anyone, but I think a lot of women can especially relate to just how hard it can be for women. Looking back at what feels like a constant uphill climb, I'm proud of how far we've come. Frankly, it would be impossible without our incredible Just Peachy team and my supportive family.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and career?
While there are many individual people I could list as influences, I wouldn't necessarily point to a single person. As noted, part of being connected to a larger creative community with my background as a designer is a shared ethos of always seeking out things that inspire you. So whether it was the world opening up [during] my undergrad studies in art history courses to a trip to Europe — where I saw some of the works of the greatest artists of all-time — to discovering the awe-inspiring balloon creations of Jihan Zencirli (better known as Geronimo), the world of artists and makers and creators has been such a source of inspiration for me.
What is the most meaningful piece of career or life advice you have received?
There isn't necessarily a single piece of advice or a moment in time that I would point to but, in 2019, as the fledgling building blocks of what would become Just Peachy began to materialize, I
was never even considering the possibility that this could transition into an actual business. My husband, Ryan, though, was a constant source of encouragement who let me know that I had what it takes to start and run a business. I didn't fully believe in myself, but he did. If it wasn't for that, I don't think I would've had the courage to go out on my own and start the business I have today.
How do you like to de-stress after a difficult day/week?
I'm generally a homebody, so my absolute favorite thing to do to de-stress is to spend time on the porch at our house. When the weather is nice and there's just the hint of a breeze, it's
absolutely glorious. Sometimes our family will eat dinner together out there, sometimes it's just me and my husband sitting and catching up, and occasionally I just go sit alone and enjoy the
rare, precious moments of silence. Beyond that, I'm grateful that I have a family who supports me and allows me to disconnect completely when I need a break.