Babies & Balloons

07/30/2022 11:18 AM By Joshua
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Julie Duncan
Julie Duncan
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson

Babies & Balloons

Entrepreneurial Mom Finds Balance in Structure

Julie Duncan, co-owner of Jewelz Entertainment and Balloon Design, considers herself a somewhat “crunchy” mom. “Crunchy is kind of a slang term for a hippie mom—the breastfeeding, baby-wearing, eat lots of vegetables. Crunchy, like you’re crunching lots of vegetables,” explains Julie.

“I am very pro-breastfeeding and breastfed [my daughters] for a little over two years. I did the baby-wearing groups [and] the mommy groups and was a somewhat stay-at-home [mom] for the first two years or so. I met [my business partner] Lydia Sapp at natural childbirth class.”

The Plunge

Born in South Florida, Julie slowly worked her way north—moving to Ocala over 13 years ago to be with her husband. “[Thomas] is local. He was actually raised in the neighborhood that we currently live in now. So, he was out riding bike in the same streets that our daughter is now riding her bike,” Julie proudly states.

Around the fifth year of their relationship, Julie and Thomas decided to have children, and their oldest daughter Fiona (now 8) was born. “We figured out quickly, after we had [Fiona], that it’s so complicated being together as a couple and a family without the whole marriage thing. I told [Thomas] on a Thursday that we’re getting married on Sunday. There was no proposal or romantic ‘we’re getting married.’ I was like, ‘Babe, I’m over this. We can’t even get the same stupid car insurance policy. This is ridiculous. Let’s just sign the stupid paperwork. Are you cool with it?’”

Julie put the wedding together in four days, which included a water slide—a metaphor for taking the plunge. Thomas and Julie now have a second daughter Felicity (2). She was born at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic. “That was an interesting experience—having a newborn in the middle of a pandemic,” recalls Julie.


Balloons and Babies

Even before Fiona came onto the scene, Julie was a staple at the First Friday Art Walks in Downtown Ocala. In 2012, Julie and Lydia started Jewelz Entertainment and Balloon Design.

The women brought their daughters to work. There were a lot of good times with singing and dancing, but it could also be difficult to focus and work around the potential choking hazards with two toddlers in the office.

“There was very little flow in the office environment,” says Julie. “Fast forward six years, I drop off the older girl to [school] and then drop the toddler off at daycare for half a day.

“The only thing I’m really having to button [at work] nowadays are fasteners for containers and not pants for potty training. Now, I go into the office, and it’s really quiet. I’m able to jump into a workflow. There’s still occasionally dancing and music, but it’s usually adult music or a musical play.”

Julie does miss spending time with her girls, and she makes sure her schedule allows her to pick them up from school and to spend time with them on the weekend. It’s why she restricts parties she’s personally involved in on the weekends to one, instead of the five to seven she used to do. Now, she books the weekends with parties that embrace her employees’ talents.

“I function well with structure. I can function with chaos, but personally, my human brain likes to know where I need to be and when. So, [when] I’m on a routine, it’s comfortable. It does make me sad that I don’t get to watch my toddler picking up and learning lots of things. But I do love the structure and being able to create outside of creating with the family and to build and grow something that’s mine.

“At the same time, what am I missing out on? That’s why I’m pretty strict on my schedule, and I really try not to book myself outside of those [specific] work hours,” explains Julie.

Her husband has been very helpful, now that Julie’s schedule is tighter and she has more employees. Thomas is able to rearrange his schedule, when needed, to watch over sick kids and other unexpected things that are inevitable with children. They have other family support, too.

“Now that Felicity is here, and the company has changed so much, I rely on [Thomas] way more than I used to.”

Julie’s rosy disposition and girl-boss attitude make for one powerful package. Add mom to that mix, and there is probably a Superwoman costume under her work uniform.
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