By Terri Horvath
Danita Johnson Hughes believes people want to celebrate the milestones of their lives, and a good place to start those celebrations is with a visit to her store Party Masters in Portage, Ind.
Do you need decorations for a 90 year-old’s birthday party? Party Masters has it. A piñata for a 15 year-old’s quinceañera? That’s also available. Red, white and blue banners to launch a Fourth of July cookout or even a political campaign? The vote is aye.
Party Masters also has décor for weddings, baby and bridal showers, and anniversaries. Located at 6538 U.S. Highway 6, the store officially opened in May 2012. The primary reason for its existence, however, was “to take the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and establish a family business,” said Hughes.
Her daughter Kyla Parker is the store manager. Currently working on her master’s degree in business administration, Parker said she enjoys her job. “I like making my own decisions for a business,” said Parker, who also has more than a decade of experience working in other companies. “Plus, I have good employees.” “I want to leave a legacy for my family,” said Hughes. “And to show them that a good work ethic is fundamental to a business and just about everything in life.”
In addition to the title of business owner, she is also the COO of Edgewater Behavioral Health Services, an organization offering the full continuum of health care services for mental and emotional health. Starting in 1995, she worked her way up at Edgewater. When she took the CEO office, she had to conquer some challenges to stabilize the nonprofit and set it on its path for success. She sees the experience as beneficial for starting and leading her enterprise.
Plus, she views the economic climate in Portage as being “fairly good.” “We’re located in a community of working people with some disposable income,” Hughes said. Plus, she said the number of businesses in northwest Indiana has plenty of potential.
These corporate prospects have recently inspired Party Masters to venture into providing promotional items. The store now offers options for items custom printed with a company’s name, logo or slogan. This year also saw another initiative undertaken by Party Masters. In January, Hughes and staff applied for Minority-owned and Women-owned Business Enterprise Certification.
A MWBE status means Party Masters has greater opportunities in bidding on state contracts. Plus, corporations wanting to illustrate a diverse roster of vendors may also be attracted to companies with MBE/WBE certification. Hughes recognizes the status opens up another possibility for an income stream.
The money and challenges of business ownership are just part of the equation in calculating Party Masters’ existence. As Parker explains, “starting the business just sounded like fun.”