Photo by Amber Jenkins
Amy Stowell is the owner and operator of Dreamcastle, an inflatable rental business.
GRANITE CITY — Have you heard the term “go-getter”?
We have plenty of these in Granite City, but when you put “go-getter” with smart, business-savvy and determined you have a pretty successful combination — and you have Granite City resident Amy Stowell.
Stowell, a GCHS graduate, says she was determined even in high school. When she was attending high school, she began taking nursing courses at SWIC (then known as BAC, or Belleville Area College) as part of a cooperative program offered by the school, preparing students for the workforce. Amy said while working in the co-op, she knew she wanted to go into nursing. She has been in the field as a registered nurse for 18 years and currently works in the cardiac area of Memorial Hospital in Belleville.
For Amy, nursing is only something she does three days a week. She is a mother of two boys, ages 10 and 13. She also runs a business with co-owner/operator Nathan Lobdell.
“I always liked business, and when I became a seasoned nurse, I wanted something more and needed a change to keep things interesting,” she said. “I was very interested in owning my own business.”
After a friend spoke to her about opening an inflatable rental business, she decided it was a great idea. With the start-up cost of the business being low compared to other new business costs, Amy began operating Dreamcastle in 2012.
“I purchased some bounce houses, a truck and a trailer and went into business,” she said. “My friend just gave me the idea and I went ahead and made it reality.”
During the summer, Dreamcastle is busy with many rental parties. Customers have many options when renting from Dreamcastle. They can rent original bounce houses or combination ones, which include either a slide or waterslide. Another inflatable combo includes a basketball hoop along with the bouncing area. Dreamcastle also rents a 32-foot obstacle course and a combination joust arena/wrecking ball.
“The joust/wrecking ball combo is good for older kids, like high schoolers,” she said. “We also rent concessions such as a popcorn maker, snow cone machine and a cotton candy maker. We give discounts to schools and churches as well.”
Amy said she added co-owner Lobdell to the business in February. The two run the business by themselves and occasionally hire contract laborers to help out. This summer has been their busiest season to date and she anticipates hiring a team next year. They have been booked up so much this summer, Amy said they will purchase another truck and several more inflatables before next season begins.
When not working one of her two jobs, Amy can be found practicing taekwondo in New Baden at a martial arts studio. Earlier this year, Amy earned her black belt and has been practicing the art for three years — faster than average for earning a black belt.
In winter, when her inflatable business slows down because of the weather, Amy keeps herself busy by earning her master’s degree in nursing online. She said after she completes this, she plans to earn a master’s degree in business as well during her downtime.
Partner Nathan said he is happy to be in the business with Amy, and while she sets up most of the rental events, Nathan delivers the equipment, sets it up and breaks it down.
For information, call Dreamcastle at (618) 225-9824.