Caernarfon-based Lois Hughes and her cousin Ffion Evans identified a new trend which has taken over the decorating market in Australia, using clear helium balloons stuffed with materials and objects, such as feathers, used for event decorations. This made them realise that no one was providing this service in North Wales just yet, so they decided to start their own business, Balwns.
Balwns offer a decorating service for a range of events and occasions, including corporate events, personal celebrations, weddings, christenings and birthdays.
One of the business’ unique selling points is the so-called POP balloons – balloons stuffed with presents which are then ‘popped’ during the event.
What they did
Having decided to start their own decorating business, Lois and Ffion approached the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service and met with a business adviser to discuss their initial idea and first steps into running their own business.
They carried out extensive market research which involved looking at similar businesses in England to ascertain how they operate, as well as local research to find suitable helium suppliers.
The pair then purchased the necessary equipment including a printer to write on the balloons, and successfully launched Balwns in 2018.
What would they do differently
“We would have started earlier. That way, every mishap would have been a learning curve.” – Lois Hughes
Their proudest moment in business
“Our proudest moment was securing our first job – decorating Gypsy Wood as Winter Wonderland and a Halloween display in Glandwr Surgery.”
Do they use Welsh in their business?
Yes. The business is located in the Caernarfon area and both Lois and Ffion recognised the importance of marketing and communicating through the medium of Welsh. “It is essential to be bilingual in an area where Welsh is so prominent like Caernarfon where almost 70% of the population are Welsh speakers. We believe that more customers use us because our marketing is bilingual.
Describe the type of support (financial / non-financial) they’ve received from Business Wales / Welsh Government.
Lois and Ffion benefited from one-to-one support provided by a Business Wales adviser, Anwen Pari Owen, who helped them with their business idea and set-up. She discussed marketing, legal issues, pricing strategy, and referred them to further support including a Business Wales Branding and Marketing workshop. This provided practical ideas on how to create a unique brand for the business and enabling them to create a dynamic marketing strategy.
Here are Balwns’ top tips for anyone else looking to start or grow their own business:
- go for it!
- have faith in your product
- don’t be afraid to be different and try new things
- work with local businesses
- use social media!
Business Wales is a free service that provides impartial, independent support and advice to people starting, running and growing a business in Wales, click here to find out more.