Friday, May 25, 2018

Build Your Brand by Guest Blogger Jill Shortreed - Part 1

Guest blogger Jill Shortreed, CBA, of Charleston Balloon Company in Mount Pleasant, SC, USA, shares some of her business experience and how to build your brand.

Is your brand your logo?

Are you your brand?

What is your mission statement?

Are you quirky and colourful, or refined and polished?

Coming soon - Part 2 of Build Your Brand where Jill talks about USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or Positioning, the "Ideal Client," and is there a "Magic Formula"?

Jill has a wealth of business experience. She enjoys studying business books and engaging in online education seminars and classes to keep up-to-date. Sign up to Jill's Facebook group The Business of Balloons. This group is aimed at those who own and operate a business that sells balloon decor, retail balloons, balloon deliveries, or entertaining with balloons.

This article was first published in Qualatex® Balloon Images Magazine July/August/September 2017.

Happy Ballooning! 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dive into the latest trend on Instagram - #mermaids (1,331,460 posts and growing!)

Being trend-savvy is the key to success, especially in the world of balloon artistry. Knowing what's hot will give us the edge over our competitors and excite our clients.

A sea-world theme is a favourite for me. I love colour, and this theme allows me to use so many wonderful hues to create magical decor. Earlier this year I created a number of visual displays for Pioneer®  Europe at Spring Fair. Spring Fair is the UK's No.1 trade show for gift and home products, held at Birmingham's N.E.C. One of the displays I made was designed to feature the new Qualatex® Enchanting Mermaid Microfoil®  balloon. 
It was also the perfect opportunity for me to showcase the NEW Qualatex Chrome Balloons™ and their unique vibrancy and versatility, especially when double-stuffed inside Jewel- coloured balloons.

I have been asked on several occasions how I made this display, so I thought that I would share it with you on the Very Best Balloon Blog.

It's all about the base!

The base is an integral part of the design. Without it, the design would not be as eye-catching as it is. It allows me to use many of the colours that are featured in the "Enchanting Mermaid" Microfoil. 

38" "Enchanting Mermaid" #57815

To start, I made a very simple Quick Link x-pattern wall using Chris Adamo's fabulous Balloons Online Design Tool. The wall consists of six chains using 6" Caribbean Blue Quick Links inflated to approximately 5", or five pumps on a Qualatex Green hand pump.

Two - chains of 10
Four - chains of 6
Total number of 6" Quick Links - 44

The chains are locked together using 5" Caribbean Blue and or 5" Tropical Teal duplets. 
Inflate to 3" or one pump using the Qualatex Green hand pump.
Total number of 5" balloons - 62.

With this type of "wall", we have spaces between each of the "X's" - the wall above has fourteen spaces to fill. This was where I was able to introduce a range of fabulous colours.
Each of the coloured balloons used one of the balloons listed below inflated to 5", 5.5", and 6" - the variation in size creates visual movement within the design, but be careful not to make the size differences too extreme. Each balloon is made into a Duplet with a 4" Caribbean Blue as the base balloon. This holds the balloons in place and keeps the wall flat at the base.

Chrome Silver 11" #58270
Chrome Silver looks fabulous when inflated. It creates a solid shine and has a reflective surface, unlike any other latex balloon. Chrome Silver also works extremely well when inflated inside a Jewel colour balloon (double-stuffed) - I renamed these "Jewel-Chromes," and they look stunning! 

Chome Gold 11" #58271
Chrome Green 11" #58273
Chrome Purple 11" #58274

To create the Jewel-Chrome balloons, use; 

Jewel Teal 11" #43753 
Jewel Quartz Purple 11" #43789
Jewel Sapphire Blue 11" #43793

18" "Happy Birthday Mermaid" - #57799 

To complete the display, you can add a selection of balloons that complement the "Enchanting Mermaid" special shape. Deco Bubbles are perfect for this display. They create a "bubble" look and allows to feature 11" latex balloons, making the display longer lasting. 

Qualatex has just released a fabulous new Chrome Balloon Custom Colour Chart, to download it click HERE or visit

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Can You Imagine Winning An All-Expense-Paid Trip To The World Balloon Convention?

Ruti Grodkinsky, CBA.

That's exactly what happened to Ruti Grodkinsky, CBA, of Designed by Ruti - Balloon Decor Israel who attended the World Balloon Convention in San Diego earlier this year.

"Since I started doing balloon decor five years ago, l always dreamed of going to the World Balloon Convention. I would follow all the pictures of classes, competitions, and the parties on Facebook. For me, it seemed like a far-away dream.... Thank goodness for the Qualatex®  WBC Treb Heining Scholarship. I won and my dream came true! 
WBC was way better in real life. My highlights were volunteering for all the decor opportunities. It's amazing to see how everyone helps each other! I helped Lily Tan with her entrance decor, Federico Onida with his beach party and Olga Baranova with the final night Grand Gala! 

Ruti at the Final Night Grand Gala

Ruti helping Lily Tan with the entrance decor.
What truly amazed me was that all the instructors helped each other (where do you see that in any other industry?). I worked with Dante Longhi on Lily's entrance decor, then worked with Federico and Lily while they helped Olga for the gala — really amazing! The WBC parties are breathtaking, with the most amazing decor you have ever seen.

My only regret was not being able to attend all the classes. There were so many awesome classes to choose from.  I would have loved to be able to attend them all! I loved viewing the competitions, it was amazing to see all the small details that go into each piece. I helped the Canadian team with their large sculpture, I think everyone who comes to WBC should join a team. It's an amazing experience and something you definitely wouldn't do every day! 

This time around, I didn't enter any of the competitions as it was my first time and I just wanted to enjoy the experience without any stress. Saying that, I definitely think I will compete next time I attend. 

For someone who has never been to WBC, it's a MUST! Try to start saving for 2020 (I definitely am!). For any first-timer, do as much homework beforehand on which classes you would like to attend so you don't miss anything!"

So what is the Pioneer Visionary Scholarship?

Since its start, Pioneer®  Balloon Company has been the industry’s educational leader, helping balloon professionals obtain and cultivate creative skills and business expertise. In 2006, PBC continued this mission and established two scholarships to recognize talented artists interested in furthering their careers. These educational awards honor the stellar contributions of two industry legends, Treb Heining and Marvin Hardy, by passing the torch to emerging leaders. To be considered, recipients must be able to answer questions about: the deliberate growth of their business, specific ways they plan to apply education gained from their chosen professional event to help implement that growth, other investment plans to make their business grow, and specific skills they want to learn.

Scholarships are awarded throughout the year and fund attendance for one entrepreneur to a well-known industry event of their choosing in the United States or Europe. Each scholarship includes transportation to and from the educational event, complete registration, and lodging expenses for the duration of the event. Travel and registration arrangements will be made by Pioneer Balloon Company. 

To find out more and how to apply, click HERE.

Marvin Hardy Scholarship 
Anthony Lena 
Dylan Rowe 

Treb Heining Scholarship 
Delora Harbin 
Roland Répászki 
Ruti Grodzinsky 
Silvia Gonzalez 
Sinem Mehterian 

Congratulations to Ruti and all the other 2018 Pioneer Visionary Scholarship recipients!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Do You Create Visual Images On Your Computer? Here is a Fabulous Gift From Luc Bertrand, CBA.

Luc Bertrand, CBA, of Waw Balloons in Vichte, Belgium, recently taught a class at the World Balloon Convention —"Creating Magic on Paper." In this class, Luc showed delegates how to create realistic-looking visualisations of designs and decor to make stunning presentations and selling so much easier! Below is a great example of an arch Luc designed that could be easily presented to a client showing them exactly what they are getting. As Luc says, "Words can describe, but images sell. Research shows that the human brain is able to process a visual image up to 60,000 times faster than the same information in text form."

There are many ways to create your visual images. Luc uses MacDraft PE (personal edition), others use Publisher, and there are many other apps and programs that can be used. I simply use shapes in Word or Pages to create my designs. Below is an extract from a post that I wrote in 2012 - "As a Balloon Artist, how can we find our Inspiration".


We still don’t need to touch a balloon at this stage. I suppose it really depends on what you plan on making. Some designers sketch out their designs first. Others reach for their keyboards! Hopefully, if you are reading this you have access to either a PC or Mac, and therefore you should have either WORD or PAGES. Either one of these programs will give you the ability to start designing. Just use the shapes to create your balloon shapes. To find the shapes in WORD, click on VIEW and then TOOLBOX. When that opens click on DRAWING. This will give you a new toolbar that has everything that you need. Use FILL to colour your shapes. CUT and PASTE to re-create more of the same. "Hey presto," you have a very basic design package. I can assure you I still use it today when I am designing anything from room decor to a centrepiece! "Father Christmas" started life as a computer-generated design. This method saves time and materials and 99% of the time and works out just perfectly when recreated with actual balloons! I am sure there are many clever people out there who know how to work with Coral Draw and other sophisticated design programs. That is my dream one day, but I know that as with anything new it will take a while to work out how to do it, so for now I am keeping to the simple way!

Sue Bowler
I created this just by simply using round shapes and filling in the colours!

Today's post is not about how to create these super images on our computers, but for those of you who do, here is a fabulous gift from Luc!

Luc has created a fabulous latex colour chart that shows Qualatex® balloons in a round rather than a balloon shape. This will allow us to create our visual images using the actual balloon colours that we are proposing rather than the nearest colour we can generate on our computers, making our designs even more professional.

Did you notice that Luc's arch design used the Qualatex Chrome balloons?

To make it easy for you to download this chart, I will add it to the files section in both the Qualatex and QBN Facebook Groups. These files will open in either Keynote or PowerPoint. I will also add the file as a PDF.

Only yesterday, I created a visual image of decor that I was proposing for a corporate client. It took me less than 15 minutes to create the image, and I sent it to my customer with a quote. It worked; I got the job! 

I truly hope that Luc teaches his class again. I know for sure that I would definitely love to attend!

For those of you who would like to create visual images for their customers but are not able to create the designs themselves, there are a number of payable options:

Balloon Art Clip Art by Balloon Splendor - these are available on Etsy - this is a membership-based software 

There may be others that I am not aware of. Please let me know if there are so I may add them to the list.

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What It Takes To Be An Instructor At The World Balloon Convention.

I am regularly asked, "What does it take to become an industry instructor?" In my mind, a good instructor is someone who has a skill, design style, or techniques that others are interested in seeing and learning, and secondly, that they have the ability to pass on their skills to others in a professional and competent manner. Having a good understanding of what makes a good instructor is essential. 

Potential instructors are often spotted through their skills as a balloon artist; maybe at a convention where they have entered and won competitions, and others through their everyday work and social media presence.

Being an industry instructor is no easy task. It can be pretty challenging at times, always nerve wrecking, but it can be very rewarding, too!

WBC instructors are approached about a year in advance of the event. They are asked to suggest potential class ideas. Once classes have been agreed, they have the arduous task of designing their 90-minute classes. Deciding on what to teach and show in those precious 90-minutes is vital to the success of the class. WBC delegates come from all over the world. This year, we had representation from 52 countries! Not all delegates speak English as a first language, so it's vital that whatever is taught must be visual enough for all delegates to fully understand. The instructors need to ensure that their classes are well prepared, action-packed with great content, informative, delivered according to the class level and the class description, and fun! And finally, their class notes and materials list, including everything that they need for their classes, are submitted approximately four months before the event!

Avital and Nir Schechter CBA's of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel.

This year, we had several first-time WBC Instructors. I thought it would be great to find out what Avital and Nir Schechter, CBA's of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel, and Jackie Ochitwa, CBA, of With a Twist Balloon Creations in Alberta, Canada, thought about their first World Balloon Convention! 

Avital and Nir Schechter
Was this your first time at WBC or have you been before as an attendee?
"This was our first time at WBC, and surely not our last! What an adventure, and what a great honor to be instructors at our first WBC. We couldn`t have asked for a better stage to make our classes at. Great opportunity, amazing people, and very good energies!" 

Were you apprehensive about teaching at WBC?
"Of course! Since it was our first WBC, we didn`t really know what to expect. So in order to be more confident about our classes, we made a lot of preparations so we could bring a perfect and well-organized class. The minute we saw all the nice and smiling faces of the attendees at the beginning of our classes, we knew that everything would be just fine. And luckily, we were right ☺  

How much time did it take you to prepare for your classes before arriving in San Diego?
"The preparations for our classes at WBC took over a year. It was an interesting process since we`ve tried to use our experience as delegates at conventions in order to bring practical, informative and useful class. It was very important to us to explore the designs of the classes in actual events, so we could answer all the possible answers and bring our experience to the class."

How do you feel that your classes went?
"In one word- amazing! In 5 words- can we do it again?! When we knew that our classes were fully booked few weeks before the convention, we were extremely excited, but also felt a lot of responsibility to prove the attendees that they made the right choice. The classes went so quickly. We enjoyed every minute. We would like to say thank you to all of the amazing staff of WBC that helped us so much behind the scenes. We would also like to say thank you to all of the attendees of our classes for making this experience so special for us. We were very touched by your great feedback and kind words, and we appreciate it so much."  

Selfie Mania - Design by Nir & Avital Schechter

What were your WBC highlights?
"Our WBC highlights were the parties, the competitions, and the classes. The parties - because of the opportunity to hang out with the most kind and talented people in the world. We didn’t want any party to end! The decor, the music, the dancefloor, the energies - you need to experience it in order to understand it. The competitions - because that’s where the top of the top of the balloon art is at. Watching the competitors making their creations was like attending 10 classes at the same time! It was very inspiring and mind-blowing. The classes - luckily, we had the chance to join few of the classes besides teaching ours and they were awesome. We can`t wait to implement what we`ve learned at the classes in our own business (and the notebook is a treasure!). "

What would you say to anyone considering attending WBC in the future?
"You have 2 years to save up money to WBC 2020 - start NOW! We've been in many conventions in the past, but nothing is compared to the experience we had at WBC. That`s the place to meet the superstars of the balloon world, to enjoy outstanding parties, and to attend classes that will pay back your investment by taking your business to the next level. Add to that the mind-blowing competition pieces (and your opportunity to show off your skills by attending the competitions), talented instructors and unique and electric energies - and you've got all the reasons why to attend WBC. We can't wait for the next one!"

Jackie Ochitwa

Jackie with delegate Shivani Chandhok from India

"I was very apprehensive about teaching at WBC. I was pretty new (incredibly new!) to the teaching world when I was asked.  I had just come home from my first big instructing job at FLOAT 2017 when I received an e-mail from Pioneer asking if I would teach at WBC 2018.  I couldn't believe it!  I was even more apprehensive after I saw the incredible line-up of teachers announced.  It was surreal to see my name grouped with Luc Bertrand, Alberto Falcone, and Sue Bowler.  Preparation for classes began almost immediately.  There were many deadlines to meet, and I was incredibly impressed at how well organized the event is.  It's a well-oiled machine from start to finish.  I sent in a number of possible class ideas and we settled on one.  From there, it was filling out forms for product and any additional equipment we would need.

"I was thankfully eased into my classes - the first four classes were taught alongside a number of incredibly talented balloon twisters.  David and Shana Brenion, and Nao Osaka, the Shechters from Israel (who are the cutest couple I have ever met), to name a few.  We made some adorable accessories for the upcoming Beach Party in one class and had a really fun jam session led by the Brenions for the other.  The day did eventually come for my two solo classes.  I was more nervous than I thought I would be.  I had done all the preparation I could have - I made an example piece that I was happy with.  There were so many people behind the scenes that were there to help out - Braden Meyer helped set up my classroom and was a beast in tracking down more (and more) inflators for the class to use.  I decided that we would have a standing, hands-on class, so a couple hours before the first one started we moved all the chairs out of the room and piled in as many tables as we could find.  I was hoping the students would be tired of sitting at this point and embrace standing - and they did!  A good friend Mandana Moshrefzadeh, was an angel and helped me through both my solo classes. I couldn't have done it without her.  The classes were fun, laid back, and the students were so keen to learn. They made it easy for me."

"One of my highlights from WBC 2018 was the instructor's prep room.  It sounds silly as it was not very glamorous and incredibly noisy and filled with panic at times.  It was also filled with silliness and music and a lot of comradery.  Instructors from Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, Japan, Belgium, Israel - so many language barriers, but we were all working towards the same goal.  I had so much support from everybody around me.  They made being a first-time instructor so much easier.  Everybody was so welcoming and there if I needed anything.

Jackie with fellow instructors, Nir and Avital Schechter, CBA's Nao Osaka,
Patty Jacobo, CBA, Nicole Greg, CBA, Shana and David Brenion, and Sean Rogers, CBA.

For anybody attending WBC in the future, I would say appreciate all the work that goes in behind the scenes.  I had no idea what it took to put on such a spectacular event, and I'm sure there is so much I didn't see.  I'm excited to go to my first WBC as an attendee and to see it from the other side.  Although I will miss the prep room."

I am really enjoying this first-time series of blogs from this year's World Balloon Convention. My final part (coming soon) will be from some first-time delegates and what they thought about their WBC experience.

A huge thank you to Avital, Nir, and Jackie for sharing their experience with us all!

Happy Ballooning!


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Did You Know that There Are Elves At The World Balloon Convention?

There are so many "Wow!" moments at WBC, and of course, one of those is the incredible decor designed by a line-up of extremely talented balloon artists from around the world! WBC 2018 was no exception, and I can honestly say that there were many "Wow!" moments.

Welcome Event Decor
Designer Stuart Davies, CBA.
Photograph by Nicci Rene.

I would like to start by acknowledging the designers who created all the fabulous decor.
Lobby Decor Designer - Lily Tan, Singapore.
Welcome Event Decor Designer - Stuart Davies, CBA, UK.
Costume Party Event Decor Designer -Federico Onida, CBA, Italy.
Grand Gala Event Decor Designer - Olga Baranova, CBA, Russia.
Grand Gala After Party Event Decor Designer - Chris Adamo, CBA, Australia.

You might be surprised to learn that this post is not about the designers. It is about the amazing crew of people who tirelessly work to make sure that each of the designer's dreams are realised, and that the decor looks as fabulous as it should.

As I have mentioned before, there are many reasons why people attend WBC, and one of those is to be part of the awesome production team — for me, the "Elves of WBC!"  One of my favourite childhood books was a very old story called, "The Elves and the Shoemaker." This story is about a poor shoemaker who receives much-needed help from elves, hence the reason I have given this wonderful group of people the name "elves"! 

The Production Crew Team. 

First-Time WBC Production Crew Members:

Sara and Mike Harris, both CBAs of For Every Occasion in Rhyl, UK., have attended every WBC in varying capacities: as delegates, competitors, and also as a sponsor. This would be the first time that they worked as part of the production crew.

Mike Harris, CBA.
The production crew are all unsung heroes, the elves of WBC who make dreams reality. Do you agree with that statement? 
"Absolutely, 100%. I knew from the other events I had attended that the amazing event decor had to be built, but until this year, I did not realise who did it or how much hard work was involved. Most days started for the team at either 7 or 7:30 a.m. and would go on until up to midnight. One day we worked until 3:00 a.m. 
It was great to work as part of this fantastic team who all have their own strengths and specialities. They accepted us straight into the team from day one, and I know I have made some great friends for life," Sara added "I always knew these ‘elves’ worked hard, but can honestly say I really had no idea just how hard! The hours they put in are immense."

Sara Harris, CBA.

What do you think you gained from being part of the crew?

"Apart from a great bunch of new friends, I think the experience of working as part of a large crew on gigantic projects. It was also reassuring to see that other artists work in the same way that we do on projects. Not only from a design point of view, but also the way the team worked on the designs." Sara also felt that they gained more experience working on big decor.

What were your WBC 2018 highlights?
"Working with a hard-working, great fun team. Seeing each of the designs come to life and the final night awards dinner when we knew we had finished and could finally relax." For Sara, "I loved the beach party, but my highlight was the welcome decor - absolutely loved it!"

Was there anything that you did not enjoy about your role?  "There was nothing that we did not enjoy. It is hard work, long hours, but very rewarding to see the results. In conclusion, WBC 2018 was a whirlwind of thousands of balloons, more than I have ever worked with on one project. We worked hard. We didn’t have time to play hard, but we made some great friends for life. I only hope we get to do it all again sometime in the future. I would like to say a big thank you to LaDonna Belcher and her team for welcoming us in, and trusting us as part of this first-class crew." 

Barry Revell, CBA, of Lightitup Balloons in Perth, Australia, also joined the production crew for the first time this year.

Barry Revell, CBA.
Barry's first WBC was in 2016 in New Orleans, and although a delegate, he found himself volunteering to help the production crew with inflating balloons and knew that this would be the perfect WBC role for him.

The production crew are all unsung heroes, the elves of WBC who make dreams reality. Do you agree with that statement?  
"100%, yes! Without the production crews help, it would be so hard for the designers to achieve their designs and the mass numbers of balloons that the decor requires."

What do you think that you gained from being part of the crew? 
"I learned many new skills from working on the large scale decor projects. I also enjoyed working together with others crew members. It was great that we were able to combine our skills. I also gained many more balloon artist friends from around the world."

What were your WBC 2018 highlights?
"There were many highlights. Seeing how the designers became overcome with emotion once their event decor had been turned from a design on paper into reality. Also, working alongside nineteen other amazing and talented balloon artists."

What did you least enjoy about your role? "That the whole experience finished too quickly."

LaDonna Belcher, CBA with Barry Revell and
Olga Samoilova, CBA.

This year's fabulous production team members were:
Greg Arrigoni, Garrett Gruberman, Mark Toomey, Sue Boone, Ines Lambert, Cheryl Skoric, Alexandra Ventura, Bonnie Fisher, Lisa Talip, Chase Nelson, Evan Nelson, Tara Silva, Debi Leidel, Cindy Rasmusson, Ray Wilson, Mike Harris, Sara Harris, Barry Revell, Sandy Pressley, Fathi Boheme, and JR (Huvaldo) Magnia. 
This amazing team was led by the fabulous LaDonna Belcher, CBA, who was awarded the Golden Light Award at this years WBC in honour of the wonderful late Linda Bruce. LaDonna had this to say about her team. "They work with a pure heart as if each event was their very own, and we are all in one accord to help the designer achieve their dream."  

A huge thank you to Mike, Sara, and Barry for sharing their WBC first-time experience working on the production crew team!

Happy Ballooning!