A former full-time mum living in Holywood, Co Down, has turned her childhood passion for balloon modelling into a successful bespoke balloon design business, thanks to help from the Go For It programme in association with Ards and North Down Borough Council.
The Go For It programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.
Erin launched Balloons and Gifts by Erin, having received encouragement from a family member to start her own business as a means of getting back into the world of work, after dedicating her time to raising her family for the last number of years.
Erin explains: “Having enjoyed balloon modelling as a young child, I decided to turn a once childhood dream into a reality. I launched my own business because I had been at home for 15 years raising my children, and I thought it was time to do something for myself and get back to work. However, I couldn’t find a job that would fit around family life, so, I took the decision to start my own business and I haven’t looked back since.”
Balloons and Gifts by Erin offers a range of high-quality bespoke balloon displays such as balloon arches, balloon hoops, stuffed balloons as well as unique handmade gifts for various occasions.
Erin felt a real mix of emotions when she first launched her business, there was a lot of excitement but also a little worry.
Erin continues: “When I launched my business, I was really excited, but also quite apprehensive. I kept asking myself; what would happen if it would not succeed or was I even capable of running my own business?
“I know now that owning this business has given me the freedom to follow my passion and not have to answer to anybody. It’s great to be able to say that I have control over my work-life balance, allowing me to make time for my family whilst being an entrepreneur and I’m proud of myself for that.”
Erin’s ambition of opening her personalised balloon business became a reality after taking part in the Go For It programme through the Ards and North Down Borough Council.
The Go For It programme is offered free of charge and is facilitated by a group of highly skilled business mentors across Northern Ireland’s vast network of enterprise agencies.
The objective of the programme is to assist entrepreneurs in converting their business ideas into successful enterprises by offering them professional guidance, while assisting with the creation of a business plan that can turn their visions into profitable businesses.
Erin said: “The Go For It programme was suggested to me by my local Jobs and Benefits office after I had asked them for advice on the best way to start my own business. The programme helped me in so many ways, I don’t think I could have done it without their support.
“It gave me the confidence that I needed to set up my own business whilst providing me with direction and scope for my business idea. I was able to run any ideas I had past my business advisor, and they helped me understand how they could fit into my business plan.
“The business plan helped me to secure funding and understand what steps were needed to progress my idea. It gave me a real appreciation of what it actually takes to launch a business.
“My advice to anybody interested in starting their own business is, just do it! I now pride myself in being a successful business owner and a recognised balloon artist.”
Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas said: “Erin’s journey into entrepreneurship, supported by the Go For It programme, is truly inspiring. The essentials for any business to succeed are hard work and ambition, and it’s clear that Erin possesses both of these qualities in abundance.
“Her unwavering commitment to her business has led to its success, and it is heartening to see new enterprises like Balloon and Gifts by Erin taking root in our Borough. Entrepreneurs form the backbone of our local economy, and I am eager to see more of them thrive.
“Congratulations to Erin on the achievements of her business, and I extend my best wishes for her continued success”.
Emma Pearson, business advisor at North Down Development Organisation added: “It was a real pleasure to assist Erin with her business venture and help her get back into the world of work!
“During our time together, we formulated Erin’s business plan and discussed her ideas at length. I provided Erin with mentorship in areas that focused on market research, budgeting, marketing, and goal setting.
“Erin’s passion and creativity, combined with our support has meant she has been able to launch her very own business venture and we’re delighted to have played a part in this.
“It was an absolute pleasure to work alongside Erin and I wish her, and her business the very best for the future.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It Programme on: 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com.
My advice to anybody interested in starting their own business is, just do it! I now pride myself in being a successful business owner and a recognised balloon artist.