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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 stated 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 turning into more and more fashionable in our enterprise.

I have a pal who’s a handyman who used to hold lights. He advised 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 stored 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 purported 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 received along with some pals, we handed out fliers, and I received 35 purchasers in the first 12 months.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

At the time, folks 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 exhausting. There are so much of logistics and transferring items that have to be figured out in a really quick interval of time.

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

Then purchasers known as me the subsequent 12 months to do some adorning, and I hesitantly stated sure

It was kind of inertia at that time. I have a design background, a images background, and a advertising background, so I determined to drag 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 own 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 basic, 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 nicely, 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 12 months, 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 realized that this kind of enterprise just isn’t often 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 received the assist I wanted. I have a dependable staff of 5 full-time folks and a big seasonal staff of about 30 individuals who assist assist the course of.

A house decorated with purple lights.

From my own expertise operating a enterprise and turning into a father or mother, I realized my viewers is busy mother and father and professionals. Digital advertising with banner adverts by way of Google and phrase of mouth are the simplest methods I discover prospects. I need the proper folks to search out me so I can take care of them and grow to be half of their vacation traditions.

I’m a geek in relation to Halloween and Christmas

I’m all the time enjoyable new merchandise, and I like it when my purchasers say they need to take Halloween to the subsequent stage with their adorning. I’ve discovered that in the previous couple of years, folks have started  to grow to be conscious that you could 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 gentle up sugar skulls and spooky, inexperienced gentle up eyes. We decorate with wonderful, 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 way of an electrician that mentored me. I’d additionally met a distributor who had conferences and workshops that I would go to and meet folks at. I’m all the time 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 folks should buy on-line or in shops are so delicate or low-cost that you just’re fortunate to get one season out of it. I use objects which can be meant for commercial set up, so I know the merchandise might be dependable and my consumer will have a profitable season regardless of the rain or snow.

For Halloween, we are able to do gory or enjoyable and spooky

The theme actually is determined by if the household has kids and what their ages are. I assume it is humorous that our tradition could be prudes in so some ways, but in relation to Halloween, folks do not thoughts blood, cut-off heads, knives, and all these actually excessive issues.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

I favor 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 slightly have one thing that is edgy and spooky and inventive — not simply blood and gore. I assume purchasers respect that, even when their youngsters need gore.

We prefer to have all our Halloween décor put in the final week of September so our purchasers can have it up for a complete month. However, we’re seeing so much of purchasers soar 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 funds

I’ve had very massive commercial tasks that have value a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars}. I additionally nonetheless decorate for  a consumer who’s been with me for 20 years and has a really small funds. I be sure to have open and candid conversations with my purchasers as a result of design can actually increase or contract relying on model, funds, and the structure of the residence.

A house decorated with purple lights and Halloween props.

My job is to make purchasers really feel proud and enthusiastic about their vacation residence after they drive down the avenue and flip into their driveway. It can put a smile on their faces and really feel magical. They can actually have a good time with their household, their visitors, and their total neighborhood.

I urge folks to relinquish the aggressive spirit round vacation adorning. It’s necessary to do not forget that lights of all types — even when persons are laughing at them — are elevating the vibration and bringing pleasure to folks.

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