Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Shop Locally Campaigns - Encourage Your Community to Support Local Businesses



If you're like me, you too enjoy the convenience of using the internet to meet your shopping needs. No hustle and bustle, no parking costs, and goods usually delivered within a few days! However, as many of us are aware, this convenience is actually having a huge impact on the High Street. And as a result, we're not just losing shops and stores but also losing the opportunity for a local community too!
With Halloween only a few weeks away, and Christmas not too far behind, it's important that we encourage our local communities to make a conscious decision to shop locally and spend some time and money with the shops, small businesses and independent traders which ensure the community remains a vibrant places to live.





After reading a great post on Facebook about a recent local initiate called Fiver Fest from Tony Davy of Party On Up in Stroud, England, I wanted to know more! 



"The Totally Locally Fiver Fest is a big celebration of Britain’s fantastic small businesses and shops, many run by families or individuals, but ALL contributing massively to the economy of the UK and the well-being of our towns.
Towns and High Streets taking part put on special £5 offers over 1 week, to show the diversity and value of what they sell, and to say thank you to the communities that support them.
It comes from the (now famous) Totally Locally £5 message showing the huge impact of people spending just £5 per week in their local independent shops can have on our High Streets. 
Totally Locally was put together by Chris Sands, an award-winning expert in branding and marketing, based in Hebden Bridge in the North of England.
Totally Locally is not funded, is not a big organisation and is not connected to any organisation or government initiative. It runs alongside Chris’ company, The Good Company, as a stand-alone project. 
Totally Locally is something special. It started out as a small idea in the North of England and has grown into a multi-award-winning worldwide movement. Groups of volunteers in towns and areas use the free kit (yes it really is free), following guidelines and using templates and a full event strategy, and use it to make their town a stronger, more vibrant & resilient place. And all we ask in return in that if they come up with a new idea, it is shared with everyone else. There is now a network or Totally Locally Towns across the world, sharing ideas, working together and making a difference to their independent businesses. It works. It has been proven from Yorkshire to London to New Zealand. A new vibrancy, a spirit of cooperation, and a better High Street."

Does your town or community have a local shopping initiative? Check out Totally Locally for more information - this can easily be adapted for just about any location ! 

But what can you do now? You could easily start your own "Shop Locally" campaign - you might even be able to enlist the support of other local businesses too! 
Christmas can be an excellent time to increase local support and media interest. At a time when people are busily buying food and presents, encouraging them to shop locally can start a trend which will continue into the New Year.



Check out this great Declaration of Independents - packed with great quotes that you could use in your shop locally campaigns or download it from www.totally-locally.co.uk
Every year, especially around Christmastime I make it my personal mission to shop locally whenever possible. Every little counts and will go towards helping to sustain our towns and local independent shops and stores.

Happy ballooning!


Sue

www.suebowler.com
#sue bowler


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cheers! Learn How to "Craft a Brew" with Nick Anderson, CBA! With a Great Video Tutorial!

Here is a super fun "Beer Fest" design by Nick Anderson, CBA, of Zippidy Doo in Brisbane, Australia. This ultra-mod beer glass design is perfect for your next Octoberfest celebration, or for the many Beer Festivals held around the world! 

Nick has very generously shared his design recipe with the Very Best Balloon Blog. 


Beer Fest Balloon Sculpture by Nick Anderson


To see how to make this design, check out the step-by-step video below.



Below is the ingredients and recipe, which features some very helpful tips:

Material List

48 x 12" Qualatex® QuickLinks™️ Gold
12 x 12" QuickLinks White
18 x 12" QuickLinks Diamond Clear
8  x  6" QuickLinks Diamond Clear
48 x 6" QuickLinks Gold
8  x  6" QuickLinks White
Optional:
5" White
You will also need 11" White balloons to create the 'frothy' part of the beer.


Method

  • Start by inflating 8 x 12" Gold QuickLinks to 10" (keep the sizing consistent within the design), then tie into a ring. Repeat until there is six rings total.
  • Next inflate 8 x 12" White QuickLinks inflated to 10" and tie into a ring. Inflate 8 x 12" Diamond Clear QuickLinks to 10" and tie into a ring.
  • Next inflate  eights chains of 6" Quick Links using 1 x Diamond Clear, 5 x Gold and 1 x White in each chain and connect together in that order. You will use these to connect the rings together as shown in the video.
  • The Beer glass handle, inflate 6 x 12" Diamond Clear QuickLinks to 10". Optional: add 5" balloon clusters in between each of the QuickLinks handles for extra flair! 
  • To create an attractive foam on the beer, finish the design by tying in organic style white clouds of bubbles using 11" White balloons.
  • Optional: to create an even stronger base, add a cluster of four Diamond Clear 10" QuickLinks tied to every second end within the hoop to strengthen the base. 
Ensure that you tie the QuickLinks together tightly as this will guarantee a resilient and strong structure.

A huge thank you to Nick for sharing this great design, I am sure many of our readers will really enjoy making it! 

Cheers and Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler


Friday, September 20, 2019

There is Much More to Training Events than Education, It's all about being part of the Balloon Family!

I recently returned from two wonderful trips where I had the opportunity to teach at ballooning events. Last weekend I was in Sandefjord, Norway hosted by Petter and Åse Vabog, owners of Ballongbutikken, who were celebrating 30 years in business. And a few weeks before that, I attended the Qualatex Event in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, hosted by Pioneer Balloon Brazil.



The Qualatex Event 2019 Sāo Paulo, Brazil. 


Ballongbutikken 30th Anniversary Event, Norway

As we all know, attending any kind of training event whether it's one day or even several days, is an investment. Obviously it's a financial investment of course, but it's also an investment in your personal time, knowledge, and friendships. Friendships within the ballooning community should never be underestimated. They can be a lifeline when you are having difficulties, or you need help or some friendly advice. There will be people that you meet that will become special and maybe even lifelong friends.

I have worked in the balloon industry for almost 30 years, and during that time I have met many truly lovely likeminded people who are creative, and who are as passionate about balloons and the balloon industry as I am. During this time I have been able to make many friends, some who have become very special to me and who I really enjoy getting to see and spend time with when I am teaching around the world! 

Learning to network and make new friends when you are at events like this can often be as important as actually learning from the classes being taught. 




These two events were both  incredibly special, but for different reasons. The Qualatex Event in Brazil was truly magical. There were many delegates that were fresh to the balloon industry who were overall excited and eager to learn. And with four days of action-packed learning there was plenty of time to forge new friendships!

I just love how warm and friendly Brazilian's are - they're always ready for a big hug! 

In Norway, many of Ballongbutikken customers, who are now probably good friends too, shared some lovely and often touching stories of how Petter and Åse had time and again shown so much kindness, help, and support through their ballooning careers. It was very apparent that these customers were proud to be part of the balloon family.



For me, I always love the opportunity to  spend time with and work with some of my favourite ballooning family! Working at events like this is 100% team work, friendship and 51% fun of course - what else would you expect working with the Q Corner Boys - Keith Stirman and Dom Cassidy.





You may find the thought of attending a training course or other event such as these a little daunting - but  you shouldn't! You'll quickly learn that the balloon industry is nothing but a caring and supportive community. You will meet up with some incredible people, many of who may feel as nervous as you do. But I can assure you that you will quickly  feel very relaxed and enjoy everything that the course or event brings and more! 

Here are a few of my favourite photographs from these two events.


Fabulous entrance decor at the Qualatex Event Brazil by Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA
of JAZ Trading in Queensland, Australia.

Team work makes the dream work! Zoe was starstruck when she got
the truly talented Luiz Carlos da Costa Silva and André Figueiredo
as
as part of her decor crew! 
Tunico Oliveira of Estação do Balao won first place in each of the competitions
and was awarded Top Designer.



Petter and Åse Vabog at Ballongbutikken 30th Anniversary Event

Jakob Hall passes his CBA Exam - he was 16 years old 3 weeks ago! 

Aloha Tropical Balloon Wall and Decor by Sue Bowler, CBA.
There is a fabulous album of photographs from the Brazilian Event - if you would like to see more click HERE

If you are interested in attending future training courses and events, click EVENTS and remember to change the region to see all that is happening in your area.

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler








Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Secrets Out! Chrome™️ Rose Gold and Chrome Copper Balloons are Here!

Can you imagine being sent a secret parcel that contained not one, but two new Qualatex® Chrome colours? That's exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago! I was so excited, I could barely keep the news to myself - I am really not very good at keeping secrets!

Hopefully by now, you have heard that Qualatex has launched two incredible new Chrome Balloon colours, Copper and Rose Gold. 

Needless to say, I was thrilled to get to experiment with these two new colours!


41" "Glitter Gold Wedding Cake" with Rose Gold and Gold Chrome accent detail.

In a recent blog post - Fabulous NEW Jelli Balloons Design Inspiration - With Step-By-Step Design Instructions, I showed you how to create a tabletop "Jelli Balloon" design. The design above is made using the exact same principles. Unfortunately due the shape of this particular balloon I needed to use helium to inflate it as the base of the balloon is too small to support it with air.

The Glitter Gold Wedding Cake balloon contains a variety of subtle and beautiful colours, which fits in well with the contemporary style. I felt that the NEW Chrome Rose Gold and the Chrome Gold along with some additional accents consisting of silk roses and a spray of eucalyptus leaves, would compliment this balloon perfectly.

If you would like to find out how to create this style of design, simply click HERE.

I used my remaining sample Chrome Rose Gold balloons to make a table centrepiece. I have made this style of design a number of times, but my instincts told me that it would look even more impressive using Chrome Rose Gold balloons and I was not disappointed! It was absolutely stunning; the shine on the Chrome Balloons is spectacular, and the Rose Gold confetti gave the design an elegant luxe look! 




Keith and Dom, the Boys of Q Corner, were also very happy recipients of the new Chrome balloon colours and like me had the opportunity to play!







Check out Q Corner to learn how to make this very sellable air-filled Joined Number design.









"Birthday Metallic Dots" Design by Dominic Cassidy, CBA.
Last week saw the launch of the magnificent new Chrome Copper balloon. There are so many words that I could use to describe this beautiful balloon colour - it's rich, warm, elegant, and can be used for so many occasions.


Chrome Copper Centrepiece Design by Sue Bowler, CBA


A collection of designs from Dominic Cassidy - how fabulous does the Chrome Copper look with Green! 

If you were wondering how the Chrome Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, and Copper balloons compare just check below! Each of these colours are wonderfully vivid, with a fabulous metallic lustre, and brilliant shine. The Gold, Rose Gold and the Copper work so perfectly together! And fun fact, did you know that to make Rose Gold you mix Gold and Copper?


I hope that you are as excited about these new balloon colours as I am. I am sure that we will see the launch of even more exciting new Chrome colours in the near future!

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Zoe Adam-Jones - Designer Extraordinaire and CANVA Queen!

I first met Zoe two years ago when I attended the Australasian Balloon Convention in Australia. At that time, Zoe was just starting her wholesale distribution business Jaz Trading. Over the past two years, Zoe has made her mark and continuously contributes to the balloon industry with her fabulous design skills, as well as sharing her digital marketing knowledge, and working tirelessly to protect the balloon industry taking on the role of Director of PEBA - Pro Environment Balloon Alliance.

I recently had the opportunity to work alongside Zoe at the Qualatex Event Brazil and got to know her a little better! 

Zoe very kindly agreed to be included as one of our Very Best Balloon Blog Feature Artists, and has given us insight to her ballooning life! 


Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA,
 Jaz Trading in Queensland, Australia.

When did you first discover balloons?
"I first discovered balloons in 2008. My husband worked for a balloon and party distributor in Australia and I was inspired by a customer of his that had produced a twisting DVD. He bought home a bag of 260Q’s, I was scared of popping them but he said they were designed to be pushed to their limits, unfortunately he chose a bag of Jewel Tone 260Q’s that were super hard to twist and every one I twisted POPPED! At least it started desensitising me to the sound that I would later become a BIG part of my life.  Around the same time I was ready for a career change. After working in HR and Acquisition roles in large corporate businesses, I decided to retrain in Marketing, Communications and Design. In 2009, I took a 6 week contract to work with my husband on a project with the balloon and party distributor that he worked for. I ended up staying for 18 months and fell forever in love with balloons. I became a Certified Balloon Artist and started working with retailers to showcase new products and promote innovative thinking and new ideas with balloons through education workshops."

Stage decor by Zoe Adam-Jones, CBA
Zoe created this fabulous stage decor for the Qualatex Event in Brazil.
Tell us a little about your business.
"JAZ Trading is a wholesale distribution business located on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. We opened in early 2017 and supply balloons, event florals and paper party to balloon decorators and event stylists. As a distributor, I am in a unique position to mentor and support balloon professionals and small businesses in our industry. Their businesses need to thrive in order for mine to thrive too. I believe that the more successful we are together, the stronger the entire industry becomes." 
Beautiful Baby Girl Balloons and Flowers Design by Zoe Adam-Jones
Beautiful balloons with flowers display by Zoe.

What were you doing before JAZ Trading?
"In 2010, I took a leap of faith and started my own Digital Marketing & Business Consultancy company, Creative JAZ. I primarily worked with small businesses and start-ups to create a digital extension of their business. One of my clients was Pioneer Australia which later led me to become the Queensland Distributor of Qualatex Balloons."
 
"Laced Heart" by Zoe Adams-Jones
How cool is this beautiful "Laced Heart" design by Zoe! 
How did you learn to work with balloons
"Coming from a family of artists, I've always dabbled in design using different mediums. My Grandfather, my mum and my aunty were all professional artists and paved their way differently as painters. My creative passion really came to life when I entered the balloon industry. It allowed me the opportunity to combine my love for colour, texture, movement, atmosphere and fun with another true love of mine – design.   
I have not been a professional balloon decorator, however my family heritage, my background in design, creativity and eye for colour have transferred perfectly into this medium.  
When I first started 10 years ago, I immersed myself in the industry. For starters, I took a keen interest in what decorators and retailers were doing. I developed relationships with suppliers and absorbed all the information that manufacturers had to offer. The presence of social media wasn’t as strong at that time, so I spent countless hours looking through websites, catalogues, books, and magazines. I studied back issues of Images Magazine for inspiration and techniques and then I joined the QBN and became a CBA. I attended whatever education days and training workshops I could and networked with industry professionals. Then I playedI tried products, combined techniques and gave things a go." 
This elegant rainbow design truly shows Zoe's passion for colour! 
How do you find your inspiration?
  1. Other Balloon Artists - Pick the artists that you love and follow them on social media. Some of my favourites (these are just a few, the full list is VERY long) are Sue Bowler, Cam Woody, Shannon Kilford, Ruti Grodzinsky, Sara Thorne Meyer - I love their attention to detail, their style and their use of colour. 
  2. Google Images, Instagram and Pinterest - I spend countless hours scrolling through feeds and search results. I save images or posts that immediately catch my eye. I also use these channels to search for related themes. For example, I will not just search for balloons… I search for cakes, cookies and décor related to the theme which broadens my exposure to new ideas. 
  3. Colour – Colour is my world! I love to see what I can create by mixing paints… except I don’t use acrylics or watercolours, I use balloons! One of my favourite searches on Pinterest is “colour palettes”. I draw a lot of inspiration from different combinations of colours.
  4. Interior and Landscape Design – these different crafts bring inspiration for combining textures and the placement of elements in a design. I also find them very helpful to identify trends and styles.
  5. Graphic Art – I am inspired by the use of line, typography and colour in graphics. Or I may see an image that I love and then work out how to create that using balloons.  
Zoe sets the scene with this beautiful decor!
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
  1. Hustle and heart will set you apart. That’s not my quote but it is one that I live by. Starting a new business is HARD WORK… And if your heart is in it, you will find it easier to hustle and find the drive and determination to be successful. 
  2. Surround yourself with positive people and have a positive mindset. The right people will pick you up when you need it and you can do the same when they need you. 
  3. Brand recognition is so important to successful marketing. Spend time on your branding from the start. Develop an authentic business image and brand and use it consistently across all mediums. 
  4. Attend AS MANY educational and industry related events as you can. (more on this in a minute 😊)

Arbour Decor by Zoe Adam-Jones


What do you believe is the best way to promote your business?
"Authentic marketing. Work out who you are, align your core personal and business beliefs and promote this to your market. Use all different channels to show the world who you are and why they need your business. Make them feel like they know you and that they are part of what you do. 
Once you work out who your customer is, work out where they are looking for you (eg. Internet search, Instagram, Facebook, Bridal Expo, Function Venues etc) and make sure you are there!  And network! Talk to everyone you meet about what you do, being a balloon artist is such a great topic of conversation and people remember it! Attend industry events and network with other balloon professionals. Refer work to others and they will refer back to you."
Zoe sets the scene with this fabulous "Good Vibes" decor.

How important is social media to your business?
"It is vital to our business. As a distributor, we have a very select range of customers, mostly balloon artists, entertainers, retailers and event stylists. Most of them are using social media for their businesses, so when JAZ trading is on there, we are meeting them where they are already. They are also very visual people who work in an emotive industry. We need to be sure to inspire them and appeal to them with the images we use and content that we create. 
Balloon artists can look at this the same way; Mother’s, Brides, the Personal Assistant to the CEO, the Event Organiser of the local venues, the husband who forgot his wife’s birthday, these are all your potential customers and they are using social media constantly too. So make sure you are there, and that you are posting regularly (that is one thing I am always striving to improve on, posting more frequently.)" 
What are your thoughts on educational events
"They are one of the most important things you can attend in this industry. Not only do workshops and courses teach you new techniques and ideas but I also believe they keep you motivated and provide opportunities to learn from each other. You may meet people who are having similar challenges to you.  Knowledge is power and we never stop learning. Even the most seasoned professional will always pick up a new technique or a different way of doing things. The opportunities for new inspiration and ideas in this industry are amazing."  
Zoe creates this fabulous star using Chrome Gold and Green balloons.
Can you tell us a little about about PEBA and role within it?
"This industry gives me so much more than I could ever give back. This is my livelihood, a community of creative and brave small business owners that inspire and challenge me and friends from all over the world. It is for these reasons and so many more that I feel compelled to give back. I do this through education and training and through my position as a Director of PEBA. We are all being called upon, as citizens of this planet to be more responsible, more sustainable and to think about our actions and behaviours. As an industry, we have to move and change with the times. How do we do this? By accepting responsibility for past practices that no longer serve us or our planet, by changing what we do in our business and by educating our customers and the public. PEBA encourages all balloon professionals to stop the practice of deliberately releasing helium balloons and also to commit to the responsible use and disposal of balloons. This will help to look after the planet and ensure the success of our industry long into the future."


3rd Birthday Party Decor created by Zoe Adam-Jones
Zoe created this fabulous train-themed decor for her son's third birthday!  
Wow, Zoe's ballooning journey has been amazing up to this point, and I am sure this is just only the beginning! 

A huge thank you to Zoe for sharing her story with the Very Best Balloon Blog, and for all that she does for the balloon industry! I know that she has definitely helped me to better understand how to use CANVA, as well as some other cool tips and tricks with social media! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Countdown to Halloween 2019

Spooky Sweet!

Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA
Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA
With Halloween fast approaching, it's time to start planning your sales and marketing strategy!

Halloween is one of the most exciting and fun days of the year filled with exciting costumes, candy, decorations, parties and trick-or-treating! It's is also one of the biggest sales events for the balloon and party industry and being ready and prepared is the key to success!


Have a Boo-tiful Day!

This design is the perfect mix of all things Halloween!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA.
For some consumers, Halloween shopping starts early, especially if they are planning a party or to spook up their homes, office or businesses. Halloween enthusiasts will want to make sure they get all their supplies early for fear of being too late, so marketing Halloween early is never a bad thing! If you don't believe me, check out your local supermarkets - I am sure that you will see Halloween candies and other products are already on sale.

For this reason, you too should decorate your store and social media profile with Halloween themes - a well-decorated store can be just enough of a nudge to encourage your customers to make a purchase! plus you can make cover and profile photo changes for all social media platforms you are active on. Have you ever tried www.Canva.com? Canva is a free, online design tool which includes a fabulous selection of design templates. You can create almost anything and it's really simple! Here's a Facebook cover that took me around 5 minutes to make using Canva - just remember to take them off when the season ends! 



If you would like to learn more about how to use Canva, check out my blog post which gives more details about the tool.

"Good Design Matters for your Business" - Zoe Adams-Jones Shows You How to Create Fabulous Social Media Posts Using CANVA.


Though making changes to your social media branding is incredibly important, the need to adjust your social media marketing strategy to include a themed campaign for Halloween should also be a priority - here are a few ideas!


https://www.fg-a.com/halloween.shtml

  • Share mini-tutorials on how to make Halloween decorations - try to incorporate some of the items that you sell! 
  • Get creative with "spellbinding" images. Visual content like images, GIFs and videos grab the attention of social media audiences. Special occasions like Halloween allow businesses to loosen up a little bit and have some fun!
  • Take photos of your team in their Halloween costumes to add a personal touch.
  • Download Halloween SVG cut files and create some unique and exciting balloon designs that you can add to Bubbles and other balloons - show off your fabulous new balloon slogans on social media!

  • Have Fun with Hashtags - especially when it comes to Halloween marketing campaigns, never underestimate the power of hashtags - if you still unsure about hashtags check out this great article: Instagram Hashtags: The Ultimate Guide (2019 Update)
  • Create theme product bundles - If you have a few different products that lend themselves to a particular Halloween theme, offer them together at a discounted rate. 

Wishing You a Wickedly Wonderful Halloween!

Here’s a Halloween design that’s both classic and contemporary!
You should always know what you want to sell. If you only sell balloons and balloon decor, know what designs you want to promote, this will help you with your stock control. Remember, people buy what they see! 

If you are in need of inspiration, don't forget to check out www.qualatex.com! Simply click on the Inspiration tab to open up a sensational range of Bouquet, Decor, Air-Filled Solutions and Marketing Materials.

Hopefully this blog post will kick start your Halloween campaign. I have a few fun ideas for designs that I will be working on soon, and I promise to share! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com
#suebowler