When she moved from Sydney to Paris just over a year ago, Anna Dawson noticed something: when you walk down the street holding a pink balloon, strangers smile.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the same language, or if you have nothing in common with them at all, there’s still that moment where you share the joy of this tiny little thing that’s just a bit out of the ordinary,” she explains.
Dawson made this discovery when she bought a pastel pink helium balloon to celebrate her birthday, just two days after relocating to the French capital. As she walked through the streets the balloon proved an effective ice breaker.
“People smiled and some even stopped to ask why I had the balloon … [it] has allowed me to connect with so many different people who would usually have just passed me by,” the 32-year-old tells the Daily Mail.
And so The Balloon Diary was born: a blog and Instagram account filled with whimsical photos of Dawson's Parisian life, each one starring her beloved pink balloon. Not the original one, mind you — she goes through roughly 15 replacements per month.
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It's a simple idea, but The Balloon Diary has grown a cult following. On Instagram alone, it has more than 25,000 followers to date.
Dawson had always dreamed of moving and living in another country, but thanks to "practical matters" like study and professional pursuits she put it off. On her website, she explains the idea of relocating felt overwhelming.
"Even though I was doing the work that I chose, somehow I began to feel restless. I began to question why I was working so hard and what I was saving for," she writes. Eventually, she decided to follow her heart.
"Paris was where I wanted to be. With not a word of French and no real plan, I just sold everything I possibly could behind all I had worked for, because in my heart I wanted something different."