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From ‘home to high street’: an interview with Bubblegum Balloons

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by Startacus Admin

We find out more about Hampshire-based Bubblegum Balloons and how and why they decided to start their business from home.

"There are many examples of famous entrepreneurs who started their business from home.bubblegum balloons

Steve Jobs was one of those people, having developed the original Apple computer in his garage in 1976. Walt Disney was another; he left the mid-west to start a studio from his uncle’s home in California.

Their stories all highlight the grit and determination it takes to grow a home-based business into a real success. Craig Pannozzo, general manager of marquee and gazebo supplier Gazeboshop has helped hundreds of start-ups and small businesses to raise their profile through events over the years.

Keen to understand the benefits of starting a home-based business and how other entrepreneurs have taken their companies to the next level, he asked people across the UK to get in touch with their inspirational stories. Last week, we shared the story of Natalie Lovett, director of The Whitewed Directory, who has grown her business through events and networking get togethers.

This week we found out more about Hampshire-based Bubblegum Balloons and how ‘blood, sweat and tears’ have got the founders to where they are today.

Hi Laura, tell us about your business and when it was founded?

I founded the business in 2013 with my sister, Sally Clackett, and our friend Megan Robertson; we initially worked from the family home. Having just celebrated our 5th birthday, Bubblegum Balloons is a full-time balloon machine delivering happiness and making parties come to life.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

Like any new business it was about saving money - we had some space at home and so it began. Eventually we were busy enough and the demand was big enough for us to afford our own premises. We didn't borrow lots of money to start the business, we ploughed back in what we earned and within a year we were in our first bubblegum balloonsoffice space wondering how we would ever fill it! Note to self - you always do and it always way quicker than you imagine!

When starting your own business, you're on 24/7 regardless, so having the studio/office at home made it easier to fire on all cylinders from the offset. The downside was we often had to manoeuvre around the boxes in the lounge / hallway that were heading out for that day.

How were the early days of your business? What was your biggest challenge?

It was crazy, it just took off (excuse the pun) so quickly. Within a few months of our launch date we were surrounded by 50 boxes containing balloons for Givenchy to launch their new perfume, wondering how we had got there! It literally felt like a whirlwind. We put it down to perfect timing, a great product and a lot of blood, sweat and the occasional tear. Our biggest challenge has always been time, with young families and work it is hard to manage but even now we have weeks when it works and weeks when it doesn't.

What have you done to raise awareness of your brand outside of the home?

PR has always been a big focus for the brand and as a result has helped the business grow at the speed it has. From trade shows, press events and endlessly harassing journalists, it's paid off. Social media has always been our friend too.

How has your business grown since you started it?

Now a team of 26 permanent staff, Bubblegum Balloons has an e-Commerce, event installations, wholesale and retail bubblegum balloonsoffering. There's no part of the market we don't have our sights set on.

What do you envisage for your brand over the next 12-24 months?

The retail side of the business has grown considerable amounts over the past 12 months and it's only set to get bigger and better. Expect to see Bubblegum Balloon's products in all of your favourite stores soon!

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to grow their home business?

Never forget why you first started the business and do everything you can to never lose the passion. Don't get distracted by what everyone else is doing and take the time to appreciate how far you've come.

Next week we’ll be sharing the story of Jules Quill, founder of Popaball. Jules started her business 7 years ago in her bedroom, and has since grown to a core team of 18. The expansion of Popaball has led to her moving three times, with new premises on the horizon within the year. To read more interviews with entrepreneurs that have taken their business from ‘home to high street’ - click here.

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Published on: 1st August 2018

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