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Episode 9: After a Family Tragedy, DSM Entrepreneur Creates 'Happy Occasions'

Tracy Fuller podcast

July 13, 2018

Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur Tracy Fuller’s story began in 1987. Her son had passed away and she was looking for a way to get off the couch and into the world. Fuller started a company called Happy Occasions.

“The reason I called it that was we were having a tough time,” Fuller told Starts Stories DSM host Christina Moffatt. “It’s something you don’t ever recover from basically. But if I could concentrate on other peoples’ happy occasions until I could have my own again, then it gave me a reason to get off the couch.”  

With a $150 loan from her mom, Fuller created a “kitchen table startup” doing balloon deliveries for special occasions. The company evolved to include yard sign announcements and sculptures for business events.


In 2004, the name changed to InnovativEvents when the company’s customer base went international. From the Sydney Opera House in Australia to a castle in Ireland, the company now produces events for corporate clients managing AV, sound, food and décor.

InnovativEvents’ clients have included Allstate Insurance, Google, Facebook and Better Homes and Gardens. But it could have been different for Fuller. 

“I think anything that you recover from and you decide that you’re going to be a ‘thriver’ instead of just a survivor or a victim becomes a bullet in your belt and makes you stronger,” Fuller said. “I’ve had some challenges — all the way from child death, divorce, I’ve dealt with bi-polar disorder with my ex-husband — those are some big things to tackle when you’re trying to raise kids and raise a business.”

Thanks to a strong support system, Fuller and InnovativEvents have been able to thrive.

“I’ve got an army of people around me who are wonderful and have helped me through so much.”

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.