FEATURE ARTICLE

Student’s balloon business, ambitions soaring

If latex engineer were an occupational title, Ivy Tech Community College–Northeast student Heather Overmyer would have that job—and a master’s degree in the field.

And it’s not a bad gig, either. Where else can you design one-of-a-kind floral arrangements, shape awe-inspiring clouds and create a glistening waterfall all in a day’s work?

Overmyer, a second-year Hospitality Administration major with a concentration in event management, is the owner of Balloons from Above, a local small business that specializes in balloon sculptures.

Her knack for the artistry came unexpectedly.

Recognizing Overmyer’s creativity, her church fellowship requested that she decorate the congregation’s annual back-to-school backpack giveaway party in 2010. Overmyer said she took great pride in the honor and settled on using balloons. She went online and found tutorials on balloon decorating and sculptures. “I did a carnival theme and it looked great,” she said.

This first attempt with balloons as her art medium was a charm.

Donna Bolinger, the state director for Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth, a foster care placement agency, approached Overmyer at the party and asked for her business card—a request that couldn’t be honored. Overmyer had no business to promote.

Nevertheless, Bolinger offered Overmyer an opportunity to decorate her agency’s annual conference at Memorial Coliseum. Bolinger paid for the supplies and Overmyer donated her labor. With more than 2,500 balloons in place and 17 volunteers providing the support, Overmyer’s gamble led to a big payoff for her and 250 adult and youth attendees.

“I was not prepared for the level of work, beauty and enthusiasm she provided,” Bolinger said. “She turned that room into a rainbow, complete with balloon people and balloon clouds. I literally cried. Heather’s work was a heartwarming message of commitment to those youth who were not accustomed to feeling special.”

Overmyer said she was pleased with the outcome as well. “It was such a big undertaking at the Coliseum, but I am so glad God put that opportunity in my lap because it really showed me what I am capable of doing,” Overmyer said. Her faith is also what inspired her soon-to-evolve business’s name, Balloons from Above. “I felt God gave me the skills, so I wanted to give Him the glory,” she added.

Since the business’s official launch in October 2010, Overmyer is working toward a balloon artist certification. Also, she has decorated a number of prominent venues, such as an open house for Windows, Doors & More; an Ivy Tech–Northeast Commencement; an Indiana Department of Family and Children’s Services’ Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser; two Disney Institutes hosted by Ivy Tech–Northeast and a prom at Blackford High School in Hartford City, Ind.

The prom was a personal favorite for Overmyer, partly because it was her alma mater. With an “Enchanted Gardens” theme, Overmyer used more than 1,500 balloons valued at more than $2,700 to build elaborate balloon arches, lattices, and a 10-foot-high waterfall, interwoven with decorative strands of lighting.

Upon her Ivy Tech degree completion in May and within the next five years, Overmyer said she looks to purchase land between Fort Wayne and Columbia City, Ind., and construct a Y-shaped events venue—modeled after similar structures in Europe—that will feature banquet space, hotel rooms, a spa and a catering kitchen. “For now, balloons are my way of getting into the business of weddings and corporate events,” she said.

Hospitality Administration adjunct instructor Heather Alwine Eracleous said that many of Overmyer’s broader goals are within her reach. “She is not only looking at events from a vendor’s perspective, but she can see what her clients want and need because of her academic achievements.”

For Overmyer, the only place to go is up.

Heather Overmyer