By Kelsie Dove
Denise Baumann is bringing color, excitement and innovation to events and venues throughout the Southeast with her company, Creative Elements Productions.
“My company is an agency, so we book talent,” she says. “We can also do full front-to-back production of any live shows. I work with the best lighting guys, the best sound guys, the best entertainers …. Also, for about the last six years, we’ve been producing commercials, film and television.”
Baumann’s clients include several Coast casinos; she provides services ranging from costumes, hair and makeup to entertainment and headliners for the Beau Rivage, IP and Golden Nugget; dancers for the Hard Rock; and award-winning commercials and state-of-the-art food styling and photography for the Scarlett Pearl. Baumann’s company also has been entrusted with the food styling and photography for the Nicaud Food Group restaurants and the entertainment at downtown Ocean Springs bars like Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar — among several of the local businesses she works with.
“Everything I do, whether it’s a small or big job, is going to have the same amount of energy, love and quality put into it,” she says. “And quality is seen in layers, whether it’s a stage show, a video, a costume or a wig. You can tell the difference between, ‘I thought of this five minutes ago,’ and, ‘I thought of this five months ago.’”
This dedication to quality has been recognized with numerous accolades, including more than 25 American Advertising Federation Awards, eight Telly Awards and a 228 Award.
“At the end of the day, I want to create something cool and beautiful,” Baumann says. “People see quality, and that’s what I try to do.”
‘A TREE THAT HAS THREE BRANCHES’
She describes Creative Elements Productions as “a tree that has three branches.” The agency branch deals with entertainers — booking them, guiding them and helping them be seen and get work. The creative branch helps venues create eye-catching events through costumes, hair, makeup and professional production.
The third branch, video production, helps companies with marketing and branding. However, Baumann explained that she is working to move video production under the umbrella of her second company, Creative Elements Consulting, Branding and Marketing.
“They’re two companies, two LLCs, but they both have the same mission: to help companies be innovative and current with what they’re producing,” she says.
Whatever the event, Creative Elements can be counted on to bring the “wow” factor. Guests may be greeted by a model donning a “champagne dress” that holds 100 glasses, or by “mermaids” lounging by the pool. They also shouldn’t be surprised to see aerialists, contortionists and other talented entertainers displaying their unique skills.
“I want to create something that makes people look up and enjoy what they’re looking at and be engrossed in what they’re seeing,” she says. “And I want to create income and revenue for my clients because that’s what will keep them calling me back.”
‘WE WERE A MUSIC HOUSE’
Baumann’s love of the creative productions industry came from experiencing the varied cultures of her mom’s native South Mississippi and her dad’s native New Jersey, as well as a childhood filled with music.
“I remember in the 90s, my dad had all these huge home speakers,” she recalls. “We were always jamming to music, whether it was hip-hop or rock, the Eagles or the Quad City DJ’s. We were a music house even though he wasn’t a musician. Music was always playing and bumping.”
These surroundings cultivated Baumann’s love of the loud, chaotic and music-filled entertainment environment.
“It just felt natural,” she says.
Baumann began working in community theater early in life, at first singing and performing. But around age 15, she found herself more interested in the backstage roles.
“I started messing around with old wigs from the thrift store,” she says. “I would get everyone’s money and go to the thrift stores to get their costumes. It’s really cool to think that I was paving the way to my actual career right then.”
After honing her craft for a few years in local theaters, Baumann had the opportunity to work with the Biloxi Grand Theater. The venue planned to host a production of “Starlight Express” and reached out to local theaters for help with costumes.
Baumann came onboard with the Grand at age 18, which marked her introduction to live theater and entertainment.
“I remember I loved it,” she recalls. “I loved the smell of the electrical burning, the hotness of the lights, the chaos — all the hot actors and the glittery costumes, the sewing machines and the glue; I just loved it. I felt like, ‘Yep, this is where I’m supposed to be.’”
Baumann worked on multiple shows at the Grand, but she set her sights on the Beau Rivage and Cirque du Soleil. She looked up the head of wardrobe in the Beau Rivage directory, asking if help was needed in the wardrobe department.
“He said, ‘Do you have a life?’” she recalls. “I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Alright, yeah, you can come work here.’”
Baumann worked with George, the wardrobe director who hired her, for nearly a decade, and he taught her more about costumes, makeup and wigs. Eventually, she helped not only with the theater productions, but also with the costumes in the nightclub and anywhere else she was needed.
Then, after several years working as an independent contractor, she founded Creative Elements Productions.
CREATING ‘SOMETHING COOL’
Today, Baumann’s companies serve clients from throughout the region, including Atlanta, Georgia; Tunica, Mississippi and Destin, Florida. She specializes in helping her clients develop and realize their visions for events, productions and marketing.
“I try to focus on what they’re trying to do and paint the picture for them, and then they go, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted,’” she says. Baumann begins the process with a conversation so she can fully understand her clients’ goals, timeframe and budget. Then, she starts offering ideas and suggestions.
“I encourage things that will go back to social media or that will be seen on the phone because I think phones are the best marketing with our day and age,” she says. “I like to create something cool that someone will want to take a picture or video of and then post — and then my client is associated with it.”
Baumann stressed that many times, small business owners may feel her services are out of their reach financially, and she hopes to dispel that idea.
“If you’re a Mississippi small business, and you feel like you have a beautiful boutique or a beautiful restaurant, don’t feel intimidated or assume you can’t afford the correct productions or marketing materials,” she says. “I would love for people to reach out and see if there’s something we can work out. I want people to feel happy and proud of what they’ve done ….”