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Spotlight on Top Business Owners in
Gifts & Crafts


Upstate Balloon Company

Name: Stephanie Swald

Location: Schenectady, NY 

Type of Business:
Balloon Decorating and Balloon Gift Deliveries

What does your business do?
Balloon Decorating for special events - balloon arches, helium balloon bouquets and custom designs. We also make balloon gifts such as balloon bouquets and deliver them to local recipients for special occasions like Birthday, Get Well and other celebrations.

When and why did you start the biz?
We started in 2009 with balloon twisting and entertaining, later adding on and changing over to primarily balloon decorating and deliveries. We rebranded to Upstate Balloon company in early spring 2018 and we are working on becoming the area's premier balloon company for balloon arches, helium balloons and balloon gifts.

How Many People are in your Company?
3 core + 3 voluntolds and growing.

Where's your office?
Front room of residence is used as a workshop and we can also meet clients there. The overflow of balloons and framing is stored as neatly as possible in an overflowing basement. When we have a large quantity of balloons inflated waiting for delivery they take up most of the downstairs of residence.

What's the toughest part of running your biz?
Advertising is hard! It's hard to get good pictures that genuinely reflect our work, get the word out, and coordinating a monthly email, updated products on website, social media posts all reaching out and getting to be known in the area. It takes a lot of time attending networking functions and learning about others and how we can help them grow all the while hoping that they will reciprocate and help us grow too. It's also very hard to learn the different components of business but each component that I've learned has given me an understanding and an appreciation for those that make a living doing that piece of work.

What's the most fun part?
People are precious and one of our favorite things to do is design the perfect balloon gift and hand deliver lasting memories and smiles to that perfect recipient. Balloons add fun, color and make a lasting impression at special events and we love to be part of making celebrations amazing. At Upstate Balloon Company we do more than decorate... we bring your dreams to pass.

Anything you would have done differently?
When someone suggested that I learn balloon decorating years ago I wish I had started then instead of waiting until 2014. Now that I'm taking growing up (at least as a business) a little more seriously I value using professionals and paying for services to help me succeed.

What's next on the horizon for your biz?
As we grow our vision is to hire from local Work Training programs and help others become self supporting. We are also looking to purchase a building to be used as a work warehouse and storefront for Upstate Balloon Company and use a portion of the space to develop a community kitchen for local businesses that are unable to afford a restaurant space and want the chance to grow.

What advice do you have for others?
Be the biggest you can be. Have a big five year goal! Learn what a million dollars is and look at what it takes for your business to have a million dollar revenue in one year. Work backwards from there and make it happen. Get a vision and act on it. Read about successful people.

How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
Getting new ideas and looking at what is working for people is important. I want to network with others and help them grow, make friends in other areas and industries.

School (where, still in school, degree)?
UAlbany BA 2005

Prior jobs or business?
homebound tutoring for public school

Favorite Food?
At the moment it's cheese. Ask me next year and it probably changed.

What are your pets' names?
Roadkill, Easter Dinner, Christmas Dinner and Thanksgiving Dinner, Peter Rabbit and Jasmine

Do any of these pets help with your biz?
yes -Thanksgiving, Roadkill and Petey are party animals.

Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
Volunteering to hand out hot dogs in a local park. I went home needing a way to connect to people and learned how to twist balloons. That led to a lifelong love of working with balloons. A second monumental event was one Abigail Thurston invited me to a Balloon decorating class in Staten Island. I learned that I could combine twisty balloons with round balloons for huge, eye-catching designs. I immediately fell in love with the decorating side of balloons.

Anyone you publicly want to thank?
Hello Lydia Sims from Be Your Start - thank you for being my fan club, idea generator and researcher and for letting me know about biz owners idea cafe.

Contact Info:
Stephanie Swald
445 Hegeman St
Schenectady, NY 12306



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