Rising Star: Balloons & Party Décor
by LUCIE R. WILLSIE, Associate Editor
Sep 26, 2012 | 1390 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rising Star
LAMON CAPRON, right, and her husband, Lloyd “Coke” Capron, received the Rising Star award from the Tennessee Small Business Development Center Tuesday. Banner Photo, LUCIE R. WILLSIE
view slideshow (2 images)
Balloons & Party Décor earned this year’s Rising Star award from the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.

LaMon Capron and her husband, Lloyd, who goes by “Coke,” opened the business in January. It is located near Paul Huff Parkway and Mouse Creek Road.

“It’s a dream come true for us,” said the owners. “It’s very rewarding. ... Thank you so, so much.”

This year’s third annual TSBDC Rising Star commemoration was celebrated at a breakfast at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. The award is given based on the recent growth of the business, its potential for growth, as well as its unique niche in the Cleveland business community.

The couple wholeheartedly believes that with hard work, perseverance and the proper training, anything can happen.

“We have always been interested in starting our own business,” LaMon said. “One day, as I was driving to Party City, the idea came to me about Cleveland not having a party store. Since I like to entertain, I thought this business might work. And it would be fun and interesting.”

So, she did her research and took the idea to her husband and both began to look seriously at what would make this idea for a new party store in Cleveland work.

“We wanted to take this business to a different level,” LaMon said.

They wanted to create something unique.

“And, that’s where the balloon design came in,” she added.

She discovered that similar stores offer classes in ballon design, so the couple made a trip to Florida where LaMon became a certified balloon artist. Since, she has decorated local businesses, a Christmas parade float in Sevierville, and a Chamber event there, plus many more.

“And, we have made balloon bouquets for different manufacturers here in Bradley County,” she said. “The community has been very receptive.”

The new store not only provides balloons for all occasions, but a myriad of party accessories.

Several reasons have made Balloons & Party Décor this year’s honoree.

“Balloons & Party Décors’ opportunities are endless,” said David Hudson, director of the TSBDC. “... Ms. Capron has made a concentrated effort to develop a customer base and generate referrals. She has been proactive in marketing her business and has taken steps to improve the business brochure, obtain publicity in the local newspaper and network at industry events.”

And Balloons & Party Décor, one of 300 clients helped by the TSBDC since the first of this year, availed itself of the center’s services, which was instrumental in assisting the client in developing a strong business and marketing plan, Hudson said.

“Our goal was to make sure that we had everything in place to open a successful business,” she said.

This year’s winner has also participated in eight different TSBDC-sponsored programs, ranging from classes to community and Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce projects.

“They helped steer me through,” she said. “We’ve been blessed.”

In addition, TSBDC encouraged Balloons & Party Décor to join the Chamber which held a ribbon-cutting event at the brick and mortar location.

“Ms. Capron is in the process of hiring another employee,” Hudson said, “and also has reported a 60 percent sales increase. The sales increase is coming from the graduation open house market, baby fairs and a potential wedding market.”

As for the future, Balloons & Party Décor plans on expanding not only its merchandise selection, such as for birthdays and other celebrations, but also its balloon offerings, as well as offering gift wrapping and possibly a delivery service. In order to expand, they feel the next step is probably a bigger building. But they won’t put a date on when this might happen.

“We did lots and lots of praying about this business,” LaMon said. “Our friends and family have been very supportive ... but we thank God most of all.”

On a personal note, LaMon met her husband at school.

“We were high school sweethearts all through school,” she said.

Lloyd moved to Cleveland in 1972 from the Turks and Caicos Island and started attending LaMon’s church.

“We’ve been together ever since,” she said. “He’s my one and only.”

They’ve now been married for more than 34 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Right after high school, she worked in a sewing factory for a few years. In 1987, soon after her first child was born, she started taking classes at Cleveland State Community College, where she studied computers before beginning an almost 20-year career at M&M Mars as a senior operator in 1989. She retired in December 2008.

“It is a wonderful company,” she said.

Lloyd still works at P&G Duracell in Cleveland and has for the past 36 years.

After her retirement two years ago, the couple talked about finally opening a business of their own — something they always had wanted to do during retirement — and they decided the time was right.

She said she wasn’t scared. She wasn’t worried. She said she knew that if the Lord meant it to be, it would happen. So she wasn’t going to do any unnecessary worrying.

“I don’t stress myself out,” she said.

The business she opened offers all types of party supplies for just about every occasion, holiday or event imaginable. She loves to entertain and have people over in her personal life.

“I love having people around,” she said.

For more information on Balloons and Party Décor, call 339-9656.

The TSBDC doesn’t just help new businesses. It also helps existing businesses as well, with a variety of services from business plans to marketing to preparing clients for business loan applications.

For more information about the TSBDC and its courses, call 478-6247 or visit https://www.tsbdc.org. To contact TSBDC, call Alisha Rice at 478-6247.