Gwen Knabe Creates Unique Event Installations that Stand Out
Writer / Molly Dykstra
Photographer / Sam Zachrich
Gwen Knabe, owner of Elderflower Design, started her business in an unexpected way. She was planning an engagement shower for a friend and wanted to have a balloon arch as a focal point. Since she couldn’t find a local designer to create one, she made it herself. Not only did she enjoy creating it, but it was so beautiful that people immediately asked her to design them for their events. As more and more people saw her balloon garlands, both in person and online, she started receiving so many orders that it became her profession. By February 2019, she left her career as a retirement planner and Elderflower Design was born.
From the beginning, she and her husband’s background in financial planning has been a great asset. They both recognized that her talent for creation and eye for design was the foundation for her to successfully pursue her dream. Setting up and taking down installations is often a team effort and the pair work long hours on projects together.
“It feels like a true partnership,” Knabe says. “We can sit down and strategize together and decide where we want to go.”
Knabe’s work has grown to include backdrops and other décor to create a custom environment for any event. She happily works with any size of gathering, for any purpose. In the past three years, she has designed weddings, corporate events, business meetings, graduations and many other celebrations.
“It’s everything,” she says. “Full spectrum! Weddings, baby showers, bridal showers and grad season is huge! If there is something that you want created, whether it’s to emphasize and make a gathering more grand or it’s just to make someone feel special, then we will make it happen.”
While some items are available for rent, many others are created specifically for the event and don’t need to be returned. Packages can be made to fit any budget. They often include stunning balloon garlands and backdrops which can be used for a variety of purposes including photo backgrounds, signs or seating charts. Everything is created in-house and by hand. Knabe cuts her plywood backdrops to size and shape using jigsaws and a CNC router. She then paints the design and attaches backing materials to make them stable.
Eventually, she hopes to have a library of these large and durable works of art, but storage is becoming an issue. Currently, Knabe is scouting properties to find a new home for Elderflower Design to solve this problem. This new location will also allow clients to drop by and may have an event space on site that could host smaller gatherings.
Like most businesses in the hospitality industry, the pandemic impacted Elderflower Design. This business, however, managed to stay open and provide a beautiful way for people to continue to connect.
“It was interesting to see the different approaches people took to their celebrations or events during that time,” Knabe adds. “We had a lot of people who really wanted to celebrate the small things that were happening. With that, we were able to offer mostly balloons outside of people’s homes or door drops just to bring them a little more cheer for the things they wanted to celebrate, to have something to look forward to during a time that was stressful for so many different reasons. It was nice to be able to provide some of those moments.”
As people have found themselves able to gather once again, Knabe feels that they are “craving camaraderie among their friends and family.” As a result, her business is growing rapidly, and she plans to hire another part-time employee soon.
While Elderflower Design generally works in Indianapolis and the surrounding cities, Knabe is open to traveling further to serve the needs of her clients.
Knabe is happy to have discovered, and pursued, her passion for events and creating art.
“This really is my dream job,” she says. “If you see something on Pinterest or Instagram at an event that is really big and showy and you wonder, where could I even get that for my event? We are the people who can do that.”
To find out more about Elderflower Design, visit them online atelderflowerdesign.com. Gwen Knabe can be reached at 317-431-8401 and examples of her work can be found on the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter links on the website.