Friday, May 13, 2022

Trendy Printed Balloons to add a little Pizzazz to your Decor!

When added to a balloon display, printed balloons can truly bring any decor to life! By simply adding in a few themed balloons, you can easily take an already awesome display to a whole new level! 

Sometimes we look at printed balloons and cannot see beyond what they are. For example, it would be easy to assume that we only use 'cow' prints for children's birthdays and farmyard style decor. However, looking at the decor below proves that we can take a theme and use it in more ways than meets the eye!

Here is a fantastic example: Cam Woody, CBA of Pioneer Balloon Company has used the Qualatex 11" Holstein Cow print balloon along with some 14" Contented Cow head shapes in her traditional baby crescent moon display, to create this adorable cow-theme baby design... what's not to love about this display! 💕


Over the moon with love!
Dreamy pink paired with cow-theme decor makes for a fun and lovely surprise, perfect for all kinds of occasions.
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

If you would like to learn how to create a Crescent Moon Frame Shape, check out my blog post: 

Part 1. Baby Moon Design - Step-by-Step Tutorial - How to Make the Frame


Sam Jossie, CBA of Pioneer Balloon Company also used the Qualatex Holstein Cow print balloon in his display, this time the display is a trendy, elegant hoop display for a 30th birthday celebration! He also featured double-stuffed latex balloons to create some fabulous pastel tones that complement the Rose Gold Number 30 and the Taper balloons.


Mooove over for #30!
Celebrate your next big birthday in style with trendy Holstein cow print and customised pastel and rose gold tones!
Designer name: Sam Jossie, CBA, Pioneer® Balloon Company


Holstein Cow
Size and shape: 11" Round
Color: White
Package item #: 11633
Package Count: 50

When it comes to creating Jungle Theme decor, we are absolutely spoiled with choices! We of course can use Safari Assortment with Leopard Spots, Zebra Stripes, Tiger Stripes and Cheetah Spots. We could also use Green Rainbow or Black & White SuperAgate and the Tropical Greenery print too! 


Here is another fabulous example of printed balloons used within a display to create opulent themed decor. Anne McGovern, CBA of Elegant Balloons has added Black & White SuperAgates and Leopard Spots printed balloons to her table Arch, along with some confetti-filled balloons and greenery to create this sophisticated decor! 



Wild About You!
This arch is a natural for any occasion!
Designer name: Anne McGovern, CBA, Elegant Balloons


Here is another great example of a table arch. This Panda theme table decor was created by Cam Woody. Cam uses the Tropical Greenery printed balloon to compliment her design with the addition of the 21" Tropical Phildendron leaves! The curly 260Q balloons on the arch gives it great visual movement!



Life is Better With a Panda!
It’s a happy day made better with this lovable bear!
Designer name: Cam Woody, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA.

And finally, I wanted to conclude this post with this fabulous mash up of printed balloons! I would never have thought to do this in a million years, but I love it and I think that it works so well! It's bright, fun and very colourful! Well done Bangin Balloons in Ottawa, Canada.


I must confess, when it comes to printed balloons, I have never really experimented or used a print in a random or unexpected way. Seeing all these amazing designs makes me feel inspired to play more, which I will definitely do once I get my new studio set up and ready for some ballooning action! 

I hope that these designs have inspired you as much as they have inspired me! To read more on this topic, check out the Trends & Themes section on the Qualatex Website;


Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler

Friday, April 29, 2022

How to Boost your Motivation and Energy when running your Business

If you are anything like me, sometimes there are times when we have our good days and our bad days, or the ones where we feel tired, drained and deflated. As a business owner, we still have our businesses to run and customers to keep happy, so how do we increase our motivation and energy when we fall into a rut and potentially feel like throwing in the towel?

Motivation is not something that just happens spontaneously. We need to find ways to re-build it. I honestly think that the pandemic has created many long-term problems over the past two years. The closure of businesses for long periods of time, the changes in routine and the lack of opportunity to network with others have all played a major part in how we feel. One thing is for sure, doing nothing about it is not an option. 


You've probably heard this many times... get back to nature and move that body!

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain's dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. It is very easy to say that you are too busy to go for a walk or join an exercise class, but by simply giving yourself time to get some fresh air and recharge your mind and body, you will see one of the biggest boosts in motivation and energy levels. 



Getting our dog Mylo was one of the best things that we ever did, as he became our 'excuse' to go for a walk every day, come rain or shine. He is also our "office dog." Office dogs are known to help reduce employee stress, boost office morale, promote productivity, help improve communication, encourage a healthier lifestyle, improve employee retention and the workplace can appear more attractive to prospective employees.

Simplify your to-do list

When you start to feel overwhelmed, pick three things that you want to achieve that day. Write them down, then make those three tasks your top priority and dedicate your focus to those alone. Cross each of them out once you have completed the task... I can assure you that it will feel great!  List them in order of importance – which are going to make the most positive difference to your business? 




Get inspired 

Listen to an inspiring podcast. It could be about business, personal development, or something you are passionate about. This is a great way to reconnect with the ‘why’ of your business. 

I often listen to podcasts when I am walking; I like to listen to social media and Canva inspired podcasts, and this really helps me to keep up to date with the latest trends and ideas!

Check out the Qualatex Inspiration pages on Qualatex.com. These pages are really a great resource.

Air-Filled Solutions



Free Marketing Materials


Trend & Themes


Tidy your workspace and desk

You may have heard the phrase “a clean space equals a clean mind!” Having a clear workspace can really help to keep your mind focused and gives you the opportunity to focus on those things that are important, rather than being distracted by what is termed as visual pollution! Cell/mobile phones are often the biggest distraction, taking up hours of our attention each day (I am very guilty of checking my phone way too often!) Try putting your phone on silent or even Do Not Disturb mode while you’re working on a particular task - only if possible, I know that taking orders is very important too!

I am just about to move into a fantastic new studio, which will be a huge improvement from working from a home-based space. Over the past few years - yes I mean years, I have allowed my space to get very messy and disorganised. Although I know that it is going to be a huge task, I am really looking forward to getting organised and tidy once again, I am sure that it will inspire me to be creative once more.


Meet up with others whom you have something in common with

This could be other small business owners and definitely other balloon professionals!  Make friends online. Find other small business owners to connect with online. They can be from the balloon industry or within your local community. Follow them on social media (from your company’s account) to show interest in their business. Even better, mention their business or product in a tweet or Facebook post. This creates goodwill among other entrepreneurs, and they might return the gesture in your favour.

Join your local trade Chamber of Commerce. A chamber of commerce is an organisation of business owners and entrepreneurs who promote the interests of their local business community. Chambers of Commerce provide access to valuable resources, discounts, and relationships that help businesses save money and market their products.


Attend industry events and networking days

There is nothing more beneficial than attending an industry event, such as a training course or balloon convention to give you a huge boost of motivation. I know from my own experience that when I have attended events as a delegate, I return home completely recharged, motivated and ready to take on the world (well almost!)

Networking groups are also a great way to talk to other ballooning professionals on a regular basis. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss problems that you may have encountered or to ask for advice from fellow professionals. This is quite simple to do, when you go to an event and meet up with other business owners suggest that you 'meet' up on a monthly basis using one of the online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams (there are others.)

Build in the occasional 'Play Day'

Sometimes it is fun to play for playing sake and not because you need to come up with something for a customer! Get those creative juices flowing, test out new ideas and techniques that you have seen, you never know, you might create your new best selling design! 




Be kind to yourself!

Every day, carve out some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. I really enjoy playing with CANVA and creating new post ideas! Unless I actually need something specific, I classify this as "me time" and permit myself the time to play! 

Treat Yourself, I am not suggesting that you need to get retail therapy on a daily basis, but maybe once a week you go out for breakfast or lunch.

If you are feeling demotivated and really not enjoying what you are doing, then it is time to do something about it, and only you can do it. Make small but positive changes that will have an impact on your personal and business life. 

Whenever you feel demotivated, look at how far you’ve come. Recognise and celebrate your success so far – you’ve earned it! And remember: success isn’t about perfection, but progression

Seeing just how far you’ve come will give you a real confidence boost, and get you believing in yourself again.

Happy Ballooning! 


Sue

www.suebowler.com

Follow me @suebowler






Thursday, April 21, 2022

Have you ever had a ballooning failure?

This is something that most people really never want to talk about or admit... FAILURE! 

In my ballooning career I have fortunately never really had a true epic failure (thank goodness), but I have definitely had things that have gone wrong. As a result of these 'failures', I was able to learn more about the science of balloons, and the experience helped me to grow into a much more competent balloon artist!

When one first starts out on their ballooning journey, it is impossible to know or understand everything about the humble balloon! Some of us get the opportunity to attend a beginners course, but even then we try to absorb so much information that not all of it sticks!  

One of my earliest 'failures' was when I created a design called a 'Cloud 9' - A Cloud 9 is a display that consists of 9 helium-filled balloons, arranged together to form a 'cloud' shape. Each cloud is topped with a balloon; this same design today have a bigger balloon, like a 16" double-bubble (an 11" balloon inflated inside a 16" Diamond Clear latex balloon) or a 20" or 24" Qualatex Bubble Balloon used in a similar way. Each cloud is individually secured to an invisible nylon line then weighted. The three clouds are then linked together using voile or tulle to create a picture perfect Arch.


I had made this style of design on a number of occasions previously, the only difference on this occasion was that the bride wanted the 'clouds' to be positioned further apart, which resulted in me using more tulle than usual. This is where I made my error;

  • Latex balloons have a limited lift ability, for example an individual 11" balloon can lift approximately 9 grams weight.
  • Helium inside balloons that have not been treated with Hi-FLOAT dissipates over a fairly short period of time, which means that the lifting power reduces each hour.
By adding the additional tulle, I unintentionally added more weight to the design. I used nine 11" latex balloons to create each of my clouds. The balloons had not been treated with Hi-FLOAT (I cannot remember if I knew about HI-FLOAT back in those days.) As the wedding progressed the helium inside the balloons gradually 'leaked' through the balloons surface (this process is known as diffusion) and therefore the balloons no longer retained their maximum lift capacity. The two outer clouds started to pull inwards as the weight of the tulle dragged the clouds down - as the customer put it, the clouds "fell down". 

How could I have prevented this from happening? 
  • Increase the lift ability on each of the clouds by using a bigger topper, instead of using an 11", using a 16" Double-Bubble as mentioned above would have improved the lifting power  greatly, and by using a Qualatex Deco Bubble (not available in those days) it would have guaranteed the longevity of the design.
  • Always use HI-FLOAT when working with latex balloons! HI-FLOAT is a guarantee that your helium-filled balloons will last. To learn more about HI-FLOAT visit https://www.hi-float.com
  • Test, Test, Test - if in doubt, always test a design so that you understand what can go wrong and how to resolve it before you sell it to a client! 
Another one of my 'failures', actually turned into a bit of a positive experience, but it was a complete fluke!

I was asked to create 3' 'Gumballs' for a corporate event. The problem that I had was that I had very limited set up time, and definitely not enough time to make each of the 'Gumballs' on site. For those of you who are not really sure what a 'Gumball' is, it is the ballooning term for a large balloon filled with smaller balloons inside, a bit like a gumball machine, similar to Tina's beautiful balloons shown below.

Gumball Design by Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons
 in Melbourne, Australia.

To make the 'Gumballs' I used a balloon stuffing machine which enabled me to easily insert pre-inflated 5" balloons inside each of the 3' giant Diamond Clear latex balloons the day before the event. To ensure that I could transport all of these prepared balloons, I did not inflate the 3' balloons after I had inserted the 5" balloons to make transportation easier, the 3' balloons resembled blackberries, with all the 5" squeezed into the 3' Diamond Clear.

Once I arrived at the venue I started to inflate the prepared 3' balloons with helium and position on each of the tables. I have to confess, I was a little disappointed with how the balloons looked. The 5" balloons appeared to look very small (I think that some of the air had been squeezed out of the balloons when the 3' was sucked onto them prior to inflation, also I really had not put enough 5" balloons inside to create a good visual impact!) 

After about an hour of working, I looked back to see how many tables I had completed, to my surprise the balloons looked much better than they had looked when I first inflated them! The 5" balloons looked bigger and the 3' balloon looked much fuller. I had absolutely no idea why, but as you can imagine I was happy... although a few of the 5" balloons did start popping and I wasn't sure why!

This is where I made my error:
  • I had filled the 5" balloons with air and not helium. By doing this, once I inflated the 3' balloon with helium, the helium started to filter through the latex of the 5" balloons and the 5" balloons started to expand which caused a few of them to pop. Thankfully, because my 5" where actually quite small in the first place, it only caused a few of them to pop! 
  • Allowing the 3' balloon to deflate into the 5" balloons inside (and leaving them in this state for a day) really caused a huge amount of pressure on the 5" balloons inside the 3' balloon, which caused them to lose air, and in some cases to completely deflate.
How could I have prevented this from happening? 
  • I learned  that day that you cannot mix air-filled balloons and helium-filled balloons! Air is a much bigger molecule than helium and does not naturally filter through a latex balloon as easily as helium. However, as helium is a much smaller molecule, it will easily filter or pass through latex balloons, therefore causing an air-filled 5" balloons to expand until they can eventually pop. When you put helium-filled 5" inside a helium-filled 3' balloon or any other balloons, the helium moves and passes freely inside the 3' balloon and through the 5" balloons without causing any effect on the balloons inside.
  • If you need to prepare your balloons in advance, first make sure that you use the correct gases (never mix.) If you do not wish to fully inflate the balloons for transportation purposes, add enough helium or air to ensure that the 5" are not squashed and then temporary tie the balloons using a clip or a 260Q that can be easily removed to enable you to fill the balloons fully onsite.
I have of course encountered various other preventable problems, like using dark coloured balloons outside on a hot sunny day! All of the the balloons either popped or shrunk due to the intense heat. Lesson learned: only use light coloured and under-inflated balloons outside on hot sunny days! 
I have written a blog about balloons and how to work in different weather conditions, click Here or visit https://theverybestballoonblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/balloons-and-great-outdoors.html

It is never fun to have a ballooning failure. But now,  with so many freely available resources like The Very Best Balloon Blog, you should be able to do much of your own research in advance! My motto is always, "if in doubt, test it out," and that way you can try and test your methods and have confidence that it will work! 

Happy Successful Ballooning! 


Sue
Follow me @suebowler






Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Out of this World - Space Theme Decor Ideas and Inspiration

One of the biggest trends for theme parties is an out-of-this-world spacetheme, and not just for children! 

The outer space theme offers many ideas and creative opportunities to transform a room into a magical journey through space.

This adorable spaceship will launch your outer space party into the stratosphere!  Designer name: Vadim Shushkanov, CBA, Moscow, Russia

Blastoff! Rocket
This adorable spaceship will launch your outer space party into the stratosphere!
Designer name: Vadim Shushkanov, CBA, Moscow, Russia

If you would like to learn how to make this awesome space rocket, a free step-by-step recipe is available on www.Qualatex.com or click HERE

Welcome guests with cool space-theme signage for the entrance or outside.

Not everyone considers decor outside a venue. Therefore you need to sell the benefits to your clients! 
Let everyone know where to find the fun with cool space-themed signage. For example you can use directional signs and personalise them to point to different areas or a space-themed welcome board set on an easel with the guest of honour’s name and celebration.
 

Photo credit: 

Throw a Space Themed Birthday Party that’s Out of This World

Party Backdrops and Balloon Walls

Nothing can make a bigger or better statement than a Balloon Wall! Perfect for transforming a room and making those Instagram worthy photos! 

The Best Party in the Universe This accent wall is perfect for any spaced-themed occasion. Designer name: Avital and Nir Shechter, CBAs, Balloney Nir, Katsrin, Israel

The Best Party in the Universe

This accent wall is perfect for any spaced-themed occasion.
Designer name: Avital and Nir Shechter, CBAs, Balloney Nir, Katsrin, Israel


A futuristic and a space theme is not just for children's parties. It can be for adult parties too! 

Here is a fabulous balloon installation by Chris Adamo, CBA, from Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia. Chris really knows how to transform a room. These 3' latex balloons with balloon lights really help to set the scene! 


Balloon Decor by Chris Adamo
Balloons Online and The Balloon Crew-Balloons.net.au in Sydney, Australia

These painted balloons are something else and very much out of this world! I really think we need a tutorial on these, Chris 😊

Balloon Decor by Chris Adamo
Balloons Online and The Balloon Crew-Balloons.net.au in Sydney, Australia


How about this elegant 'spacey' centrepiece... 

Nothing But Awesome!
Here’s a perfectly accented centrepiece to compliment your space-theme celebration.
Designer name: Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA


The space theme does not just translate well to parties, it is also a fabulous theme for many other occasions! 


Adventure Starts Now!
Say congratulations with an outta this world design!
Designer name: Eve Antonello, CBA, Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, KS, USA

Here are some more great decor ideas to inspire and impress your clients! All these fantastic images are available online for you to use for your marketing purposes - thank you, Qualatex! Click HERE for a direct link.









I don't know about you, but this has certainly inspired me to create some space theme decor! So if you have designed something fabulous for a space theme party or delivery using Qualatex balloons, we would love to see it! Please post it on the Qualatex Facebook Group  and tag me. I look forward to seeing it! 

Happy Ballooning! 


Sue
Follow me @suebowler





Monday, April 11, 2022

Let's Talk about Deposits for Pre-Ordered Balloons, Decor, or other Services that your Company Offers

Who said running a business is easy? As a small business owner, you truly need to be a master of all trades and let's face it, the business side of running a business is not easy, nor is it everyone's favourite job! 




Today, I thought that we would look at DEPOSITS for the goods and services that you offer. I often see posts on Facebook groups asking if they are permitted to keep a customer's deposit if they cancel their order or booking? 

It is common to ask customers to pay a deposit for pre-ordered balloons, decor, or other services that your company offers. This is a way that you as a company can secure a booking or rental items for a specific date in the future. 

When your customer pays a deposit, they are entering into a contract with you, the trader. The agreement can be made verbally or in writing. As parties to the contract, you and the customer have certain legal rights and obligations. The terms of the contract are a matter between you and your customer.

The following points should be considered when creating a contract:

  • How much the deposit will be – this could be a set amount or a percentage of the total cost
  • Payment date when the balance will be due
  • If there are instalments, how much each payment will be
  • Details of the exact product or service they are buying – for example, the  product's colour or style or how the service will be performed
  • The date the product or service will be provided – for example, when will a product be delivered or the work completed
  • In what circumstances the deposit will be refunded (either fully or partially)
  • Is there any non-refundable amount or cancellation charge

Contracts should be supplied to the customer in a tangible 
format (for example, hard copy or email). Plus, you should always offer a receipt showing the deposit amount paid.

The terms of this contract must be clear and fair. Terms that may be considered unfair can include:
  • Deposits are non-refundable in all circumstances
  • If you cancel, you must pay all the trader’s expenses plus the anticipated gross profit. However, the trader is generally only entitled to keep an amount that covers the losses, Which result from your cancellation. This could include costs already incurred or loss of profit (for example, where you cancel at short notice).
So when is a deposit truly non-refundable?

The term, non-refundable deposit is often used by business owners, but just because a deposit is referred to as non-refundable does not mean that it is. Conversely, a deposit can be non-refundable if specific criteria are met as a business owner.

Meeting the Non-Refundable Criteria

Business owners need to be careful how they charge a non-refundable deposit to ensure that it meets the relevant criteria. Non-refundable deposits are intended to protect a business in circumstances in sudden cancellation circumstances and compensate the business for the time, effort, and money expended up to that point. Therefore, it is crucial for a business to ensure that the non-refundable deposit they charge in these circumstances is reasonable and proportionate with reference to protecting their legitimate business interests and is not excessive or used as a ‘penalty’ against a customer or client. Of course, what will be considered reasonable and proportionate will depend on the specific circumstances and will be different on a case-by-case basis.

Documenting the Deposit Correctly
A business needs to ensure that a non-refundable deposit is reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances. Still, they must also ensure they disclose all relevant information regarding the non-refundable deposit to their customers or clients. It is crucial for a business to disclose the terms of the non-refundable deposit accurately. Otherwise they may be seen to be engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, which is against the law. 
At a minimum, the business must disclose the terms of a non-refundable deposit in a Terms and Conditions document (or something similar), which is provided to the customer or client at the time of, or prior to, engaging them. Even better, the business should also seek to obtain an acknowledgement from the client or customer that the non-refundable deposit is reasonable and proportionate in protecting the business legitimate business interests. Again, this can be incorporated into the Terms and Conditions document the business uses. You can also reiterate this to the client or customer when you request the deposit payment. Transparency is key!

But how does it work in real life?
Let’s say you are a balloon artist who charges £500 for agreed decor with a non-refundable deposit of £150 payable prior to booking confirmation. Your Terms and Conditions (which your client signed and returned prior to engaging you) state that the deposit is non-refundable and outlines that it is calculated with reference to the actual costs that your business incurs (consultation time, pre-ordering balloons, helium, and other materials.) Your client cancels the booking two days before the event. They allege that your business cannot retain the non-refundable deposit. In these circumstances, whether you can retain the deposit would depend on (as a minimum):
  • Whether your Terms and Conditions properly explain that the deposit is non-refundable
  • Whether you have properly engaged your client/customer (by providing them the Terms and Conditions and making sure they have read and acknowledged them)
  • Whether the amount of the non-refundable deposit is reasonable, with reference to the actual costs that your business has incurred (including things like the time involved in making the booking, the loss of profit if you are unable to re-book the session, any other costs that you have incurred etc.)
  • Whether the non-refundable deposit is proportionate to the overall cost of the product or service that you are providing.
Without knowing any further information, on the above facts alone, it would appear that the deposit would be non-refundable, as the document requirements appear to have been met, and £150 may likely be considered to be a reasonable and proportionate amount. 

Having good terms and conditions that relate and are customised to your business is vital for all businesses, no matter how small a business you are. When it comes to deposits make sure that you make your customers aware of them, especially if they are non-refundable. If in doubt, talk to a professional to ensure that your terms are transparent and that what you are charging is reasonable and proportionate.

I hope this helps and gives you a better understanding of what is required when taking deposits from customers and whether you are legitimately entitled to keep them should a customer cancel their order.

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler 








Tuesday, March 29, 2022

BACI 2022 finally returned after five years of waiting... and what a wonderful reunion it was!

BACI 2022 finally returned after five years of waiting, and this time it took place in Milan. The Balloon Art Convention Italy 2022 took place from 19 to 23 March 2022 at the nHow Hotel, Milan. BACI is an event organised by Balloon Express and sponsored by Qualatex and Premium Balloon Accessories.

I am really happy to write this post. This was my first balloon convention in quite a few years, and how wonderful it was to see friends old and new! In this blog post, I talk about the event and the classes and have included a little about each instructor. 

The event kicked off with a CBA practical assessment with eighteen QBN members ready and raring to take their exam under the watchful eyes of myself and Alberto Falcone.

For those of you not familiar with this program, the Qualatex Balloon Network is an educational program designed to help those who run a balloon business and whose livelihoods depend on balloon sales. 


There are very few vocational training opportunities in the balloon industry, and the QBN helps greatly to fill this void.

The QBN has just had a major facelift for 2022. The new training program will be entirely online, mobile-friendly, and even better than ever. With new techniques, modern business tips, and tons of design ideas, the updated program features seven robust modules with ideas you can immediately implement in your business. In addition, as with the existing program, the training will culminate in a timed in-person exam for members to earn their Certified Balloon Artist designation.

See the video below If you would like a sneak peek at the new training program.


Below are some great shots of the delegates at work! During the 4hour practical exam, participants are required to:
  • Recreate/copy a Balloon Bouquet
  • Create a 5-balloon Spiral Garland Column
  • Make a twisted 'Balloon Flower'
  • Make a Social Expression Balloon Bouquet of your own design
  • Make a balloon Centrepiece of your own design
As well as being able to answer a few design and business-related questions with industry professionals.

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 




Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

I am really happy to announce that everyone passed, and they proudly showed off their certificates at the Gala party! 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

A huge thank you to Alberto Falcone, CBA, Sara Zampini, CBA and Mariann Nagy, CBA who helped me run the exam and the assessment process! 

Monday saw classes start with a fabulous line-up of instructors.

Sara Zampini, CBA.
Sara Zampini


Sara Zampini joined the world of Balloon art in 2009: she decided to try to work with balloons as a challenge. Sara participated at BACI and decided to continue this unique experience with balloons by herself. 
Sara started to study and never stopped going through new techniques and creativity in her shop in Rome.
In 2011 she began to participate in team and individual competitions: she started to win Italian and international competitions in team or individual competitions.
In 2016 at WBC, Sara was selected to participate and won the Pioneer Visionary scholarship, an important award for young and rising balloon artists.
She works everyday decorating events, weddings, and parties with love and passion; she always loves to use elegant techniques and unusual details with balloons.

Sara's classes at BACI were specifically for those who had recently started a balloon business, covering everything from the basics right through to how to deal with challenges in the balloon world.

Alberto Nava, CBA.
Alberto Nava
Since he was eight, Alberto Nava from Milan, Italy, has practiced magic and started adding balloons into his magic 22 years ago.
He is the Founder of Crazyballoons Italy and full-time performer, balloon Artist and event designer.
He loves creating fantastic birthday party events where he performs daily with over 49 different themed shows such as Mago Alberto.
He specialises in large balloon installations for theme parks and malls, incorporating special effects, dancers, and projections.
Creator of the balloon hairband concept he introduced in 2010 during the TJAm on the road, he still uses hairbands to create a party atmosphere, for photo booths and to upsell classic decor.
He has taught worldwide, inspiring people with his designs. In 2016, while participating as a teacher at Twist and Shout, he received the David Grist Memorial Award for inspiration, innovation friendship, and joy.

Alberto had an extremely full schedule at this event teaching eight different classes! His classes included, basic twisting, weaving techniques and how to use modelling balloons to create themed details for births, gender reveals, weddings, and other themes such as jungle and under the sea! 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 



Alessandro Patanè, CBA

Alessandro Patanè


"Balloon art is not a job but a philosophy of life". With this motto, Alessandro began working with balloons in 1997. He won various prizes during the following years and he worked in important teams with Italian and international artists. He also won many national and international championships in large sculpture competitions, up to the WBC 2016 when he won the Master Designer award, one of the most important prizes in the balloon world. At the same convention, he and his team places second in large sculpture competition.
His experience and great creative ideas makes Alessandro to be one of the most requested teachers in the balloon world for international events. Balloons have no secrets for Alessandro. He always works with love and passion, from the biggest decor to the smallest design.

Alessandro taught a selection of classes showing delegates how to make balloons come alive, designs created using Bubble balloons and an organics class using foil balloons and lights! 


Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 


Federico Onida, CBA

Federico Onida

Federico had a long experience in the world of animation and entertainment, with the use of stilts and juggling. Since 1999, after a meeting with Balloon Express, he regularly attends Balloon Art courses in Florence (BACI), IBAC 2002 in Chicago (USA) and all the WBC (World Balloon Convention) editions.
2003 marked the beginning of his teaching in Italy, and since 2008, Federico became an international teacher.
His specialty is the deco-twisting. He really loves to create sculptures, especially large ones, and designs rich in details. In recent years, he has developed some techniques with Quick Links balloons (walls and columns, paintings and frame - Quick Link Matrix); giant flowers with no-round balloons; a technique called D-stortion (a unique torsion technique); and the most recent, a very versatile Flat Garland.
Among a wide range of national and international awards, he won: 1st place for the Large Sculpture competition at WBC 2010, with the sculpture San Giorgio and the Dragon; "New Artist of the Year" and "Master Designer,"  in addition to 1st place in the Delivery Bouquet Competition in the 2014 WBC in Denver, Colorado, with black and white Mickey Mouse; 2nd place for the "Centerpiece" competition and 3rd place for the "Delivery" competition at B.A.C.I. 2017.
He opened his "Balloon Express Shop" in 2000 in Cagliari. Since 2015 he organised an event called “Sognare è già Creare” ("Dreaming is Creating"): large sculptures were built in a shopping centre, created by many Italian and international artists.

This year, Federico's biggest task at BACI was to design and create the fabulous decor for the Gala dinner. He also shared his knowledge as a successful balloon store owner teaching 'Retail Essentials' business classes.


Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 


Vadim Shushkanov, CBA

Vadim Shushkanov

"The moment I forever fell in love with balloons wasn’t a fun moment of my life. I was ill for around a month, and I was spending my newly gained free time creating twisted balloon figures as a gift for people around me.
Soon I returned to normal life, but my passion for balloons had been sparked. Through competing and winning in sculpture competitions at events like WBC, BACI, Moscow balloon convention to teaching around the world, balloons inspired me to ideas I’ve never imagined. In my business, my classes, and in my sculptures, I keep trying to find new shapes and unique designs, the best techniques, and the easiest ways of working. And nothing more but positive feedback from people is my greatest driver that inspires me to create more."

Vadim never fails to impress with his fabulous designs and a wonderful smile! Vadim taught a variety of classes at BACI. His first class was titled 'Think Big' and did not disappoint! He also taught classes that focused on air-filled designs and deliveries! 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 


Alberto Falcone, CBA
Alberto Falcone
Alberto has been teaching professional Balloon Art for about 20 years. He has taught classes and attended conferences in over 35 countries worldwide.
He also managed specialised shops, organise events, made great decorations, and worked in teams during his career.
All these experiences helped Alberto develop his technical and managerial consultancy program dedicated to retailers.
Alberto also still works with success with designs, creative writing and sculpture.

Alberto is a very familiar face in the world of balloons, and has been an instructor at BACI for many years! This year he taught a variety of classes, including 'Get you Wings,' 'The Best way to Sell,' 'Lettering' and 'Geometrik'.

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 


Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 



Nir and Avital Shechter, CBA

Nir & Avital Shechter
Nir was only a 16-year-old boy when he established a balloon business. It was after watching a clown twisting balloons and being fascinated by it. Seven years later, he met Avital. They got married and have been running their balloon business since then. They are both CBA`s and are the owners of one of Israel's most successful balloon businesses. Nir and Avital are well known for their balloon décor, which specialises in great colourcoordination, accurate lines, and sophisticated details. Their business offers balloon décor for corporate and private events, balloon twisting and balloon shows. Avital and Nir participated and won competitions in many balloon conventions. They were instructors on WBC 2018 in San Diego, Mexico Tour 2020, Q Corner Convention 2020, and Q Corner Convention 2021. Alongside being international balloon instructors, they offer balloon classes and balloon conventions in Israel. Nir loves to create large-scale balloon designs. He also likes the fun interactions with customers. Avital loves to add special details to designs and create creative add-ons to classic balloon décor. They say that their formula of working together 24/7 successfully with love and passion focuses on their unique individual roles in their business.

Wow, these guys had a huge task at BACI this year. Not only did they design and create the fabulous opening ceremony decor, but they taught a fabulous selection of classes too! 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy 

This amazing balloon sculpture was the star of the show at the
BACI opening ceremony. Created by Nir and Avital Shechter

Elegant Entrance Columns by Nir and Avital Shechter



And finally me...

Sue Bowler, CBA

With more than 30 years of experience in the balloon industry, Sue’s ‘ballooning’ skills and knowledge has developed through a number of channels including running her successful home-based balloon decorating business, earning her Certified Balloon Artist designation, competing in industry events and subsequently going on to hold a number of other industry roles. Sue now finds herself doing what she truly loves best: sharing her knowledge and passion for balloons and balloon art with others.
Sue currently works as an industry educator and social media columnist, writing articles for ‘The Very Best Balloon Blog’ representing the Qualatex brand and Pioneer Balloon Company.
Sue’s variety of skills is extensive. Her work ranges from elegant event decor to everyday delivery designs, including highly sellable small balloon sculptures! Sue holds a host of industry awards, including the first Golden Light Award given in honour of Linda Bruce at the World Balloon Convention 2010.

I cannot tell how privileged I was to be invited to teach at this wonderful event. This is truly one of my favourite balloon conventions, and it is always an honour to be invited to teach.

My role at this event was to run and manage the CBA exam and to teach various classes that included designs for a baby shower or new baby, balloons and flowers and organic balloon decor! 

Baby & Rainbow by Sue Bowler





Here are a few more photographs that capture the wonderful spirit of this event! 

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by TheDarkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy

Photo by The Darkroom Academy


I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little of this year's BACI. If you would like to see more, check out The Darkroom Academy,  which took some truly awesome photographs of the event! 

There is nothing quite like a balloon convention to give you the biggest injection of knowledge, motivation, creativity, fun, excitement, and the opportunity to work and have fun with like-minded people, who in many cases will become lifelong friends! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler