AJ Williams, owner of the Balloon Love Shop, took the leap into business with with help of the Comcast RISE Program.

AJ Williams, owner of the Balloon Love Shop, took the leap into business with with help of the Comcast RISE Program.

Small Business Owners Finding Support Through Special Grant Program

Starting a small business at any time can come with an enormous amount of challenges but starting one during a pandemic creates even more. I’m so thankful to have weathered the storm with my business in Kent, Balloon Love Shop. I credit determination, hard work, care for my customers, and willingness to seek help from all types of avenues. One of those was the Comcast RISE grant program for businesses owned by persons of color.

What is Balloon Love Shop? It’s love, it’s power, it’s community. I lost my job in the middle of the pandemic and wasn’t sure what was next. That’s when I decided to take the leap of uncertainty and dive into business. Many people may wonder why someone would go into this type of work. But think about what balloons represent: joy, celebrations, marking significant events in our lives.

How can anyone be mad at balloons? And that’s why I love what I do so much. Each customer is unique and comes with their unique vision of what kind of balloons they want us to create. That’s what makes this job so fun. One of the most challenging and exciting creations was a 30-foot rocket made of 1,000 balloons for the launch of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for his famous trip to outer space. But I always say balloons are for everyone, whether it’s a big event like that or the little girl who walks in the shop to buy one balloon.

There weren’t many businesses owned by people who looked like me growing up. That’s why it’s so important to support small businesses owned by persons of color. That support helps them grow into larger companies that can then encourage the next generation. That is the focus of the Comcast RISE program.

I applied for the marketing and technology grant to take my business to the next level. Being a small business owner can be discouraging at times, but being selected as a grant recipient is one of those moments where I felt such fulfillment and excitement. Someone recognized my hard work and wanted to support me and the business I love.

The grant gave my business a technology upgrade, from new laptops and iPads to a multi-year commitment to marketing support. But it went beyond just the items I received, and it gave me a sense that I can make it through, break cycles and if you want it bad enough, it’s yours. I want to share this with other small business owners. It’s essential to take advantage of every opportunity to help your business grow, so I urge any POC or women-owned business to apply to Comcast RISE.

I loved to create things as a kid, and I’m so grateful that I can share my passion with others through my business. If they can dream it, we can create it. Whether it’s for a birthday, graduation, saying goodbye to a loved one at a funeral or anniversary, I’m happy to be part of that particular day. Everyone has a moment in their life that should be celebrated, just as every small business owner deserves their chance to find success. I’m so grateful to get that chance to share my passion and bring love to the Kent community. Who would have thought that balloons would be the glue to connect my community to change?

Comcast RISE is accepting applications through June 17, 2022 for Marketing & Technology Services awards through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund. For more information and to apply, visit www.comcastrise.com.

The news and editorial staff of Sound Publishing, Inc. had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of Sound Publishing, Inc.

Sound Publishing, Inc. does not accept liability for any loss or damages caused by the use of any products, nor do we endorse any products posted in our Marketplace.

More in Local Marketplace

From left to right - Brittany Stockton, Christian Pearson, Robert Iddins, Cameron Pearson.
New year, new location for local personal injury law group

Expanding law group opens new office exclusively focused on personal injury + wrongful death

Village Green Senior Living is committed to providing a rich and inclusive environment where residents can connect and build relationships. Photo courtesy Village Green Senior Living
Holiday Joy: Keeping your loved ones connected through socialization

The holidays are here again and present us with the perfect opportunity… Continue reading

Robert Iddins and some of his fellow Marines during deployment. - Photos courtesy of Robert Iddins and Iddins Law Group in Kent.
Veteran’s Day is a year-round event at veteran-owned law firm in Kent

While Veteran’s Day may officially take place on Nov. 11, it’s recognized… Continue reading

Valley Cities team members from the Federal Way Clinic. From left to right - Lauren Vesey (Case Manager), Bridgette Parsons (SUD Clinician), Leslie Wilson (Front Desk), Robert Hoffman (Clinic Manager).
Find a new path at Valley Cities

Eying a career change? Find purpose, support and community at this local healthcare organization

Vanpool participants in Renton enjoy the social benefits of Vanpool.
Enjoy a headache-free Kent commute with Vanpool

Join or start a King County Metro Vanpool and make new friends while saving money

Iddins Law Group can help you plan for your car insurance and car accident needs. Photo courtesy of Charles Cotugno.
Don’t let a car crash haunt you for years to come

Ghoulies and ghosties aren’t the only ones scaring up your neighborhood this… Continue reading

“This is the largest investment they’re ever going to make in their lives, and I take that very seriously,” says Dan Nelson, from Southwest Finding.
Local mortgage lender helps American dream come true for first-time home buyers

Relationships, passion and purpose drive lender to help Seattle-area families buy their first home

Bill Albright has been serving local homebuyers and sellers for 30 years. Photo courtesy of Bill Albright.
A successful home purchase or sale starts with a personalized approach

Customized, people-first plans are key for home buyers and sellers

Shelia Cowart at Longevita Pilates and Yoga Studio with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Shelia Cowart.
Come in for Pilates, Yoga and fitness walk out with a brand new lease on life

Owner of Pilates and Yoga Studio teaches the importance of self-care in a judgment-free zone

Iddins Law Group helps Seniors determine if they qualify for Medicaid. Photo Courtesy of Charles Cotugno.
Invest in your health future and make a plan for Medicaid Benefits

Consult an attorney to understand Medicaid laws and how they affect you

Snoqualmie Casino invites job seekers to meet with leaders from various departments within the casino business operation this Saturday during a hiring fair at the Greater Maple Valley Community Center.
Snoqualmie Casino hosts hiring fair at Greater Maple Valley Community Center this Saturday

Great benefits, fun work environment and growth opportunities make Snoqualmie Casino a sure bet

m
Back to School: Envisioning Education in the 10G Era

As students gear up to head back to school, the horizon of… Continue reading