There are all sorts of ways to thank the essential workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic — from fundraisers to flyovers. Eddie Lin, 22, of Edison, has contributed by creating balloon pieces for grocery store workers, postal mail carriers, and other essential workers as a token of appreciation for their work and dedication.
Eddie started creating balloon art when he was 10, his mother Jenny Lin said. Officially diagnosed with autism at three years old, Eddie started watching tutorials on YouTube and making pieces. But it wasn’t until 2014 when Eddie began taking balloon art classes that his side hobby became a viable part-time job.
While visiting family in Taiwan, Jenny set up lessons with a professional balloon artist. Around the same time, she saw a change in Eddie with the help of therapy: he would be unwilling to make a color change or deviate from a design, but now Eddie was willing to make those changes — opening up an opportunity.
They’ve also attended an industry convention in Missouri, thanks to Steven Jones, the owner of Seattle-based Balloon Designers, who extended an invitation and a scholarship to Eddie. “He has been very kind and giving support and guidance to Eddie,” Jenny said of Jones. “He saw something on the internet and took an interest in him and we’re very thankful.”
Eddie’s side business, Ausome Balloon Creator, took off. He also has a part-time job at a local library and volunteers at a school. But with the pandemic, both avenues have temporarily closed, allowing more time for the balloons.
He has created a balloon-grocery shopping cart for his close friend’s mother, a manager at a local supermarket. And he recently made a balloon mailman and mail truck replica, after a person reached out wanting to order a special gift for her dad, who is a mail carrier. (The mailman balloon was then donated to her as an appreciation gift. The truck will go to the Lin family’s local postal service office.)
Although he creates the pieces, the business is a family affair. Eddie’s younger brother helps him with large events, like birthday parties and bat mitzvahs; his sister covers the marketing and social media aspect; his dad is the delivery man for large orders; and his mom is his main partner.
Jenny and Eddie have a system: she takes notes and he does the hands-on work. Then afterward, they practice together, doing what she called “dry runs.”
“He calls me his balloon whisperer,” Jenny said.