Thursday, May 29, 2014

Have you got World Cup fever?

Soccer Buddy by Sue Bowler CBA

The days are counting down to the 2014 World Cup and although I am not a particular fan of football/soccer I know that it will become a huge part of our lives for the next month or so!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Could you design the decor for one of the biggest parties in the balloon Industry? That's exactly what Alexandra & Ellie Ventura did and they share their experience with the Very Best Balloon Blog!

In 2012, yes that long ago, the World Balloon Convention set a challenge to the Worlds balloon community inviting artists to create WBC 2014 decor for the Lobby, the Thursday Night Costume Party and the Final Night Grand Gala, by entering the WBC 2014 Decor Design Competition, 'the opportunity to design your dream decor using UNLIMITED Qualatex balloons and a full staff to help realise your vision!'

Very Best Balloon Blog
Alexandra Ventura CBA with Chelsea Gaspard, Pioneer Balloon Companies
 Marketing Communications Director.

Sisters and business parters Alexandra and Ellie Ventura of Pacha Balloon Creations in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada rose to that challenge and were awarded the opportunity to create this years Thursday Night Costume Party decor 'WBC Rocks the World'.

To create decor on a grand scale is no mean feat especially when you are creating a party for the biggest balloon convention in the World! I invited Alexandra to share her experience with the Very Best Balloon Blog!

Monday, May 19, 2014

'Contracts or Service Agreements' as a small business do we really need them?

I wonder how many of us keep telling ourselves that we need to start supplying contracts when we take on decor and event work but have yet to do it?

Contracts sound very formal, however, putting your agreements in writing (between you and your clients) keeps your business relationships in good standing and potentially out of court! 
Contracts can be given a variety of titles; including: supply agreements, services agreements, service contracts, supply contracts, contract of work and just about any other permutation of these words and more!
Often a contract is formed once you have finalised all the details with your client, it could be that you have had face to face and site meetings, phone calls or a number of emails, but there comes a point when it needs to be summarised and collated into a formal document, thus creating a contract between you and your client.
Firstly you should create all of your documents on your company letter headed paper, if you are planning on emailing documents such as contracts and invoices, there are many free templates that will allow you to create your own, once you have spent the time creating your letterhead remember to save it as a template so that you can find it easily for the next time.
I am unsure of the legalities worldwide but in the UK there are legal requirements for business letterheads;

Sole trader business guidelines

If you are a sole trader you can trade under your own name or you can choose a different business name. If you choose a business name that is not your own name, you must include your own name and the business address on all letterheads and order forms.

Partnership business guidelines

If you are a partnership business your letterheads, order forms, receipts and even invoices must include the names of all partners and the address of the main office. If there are many partners then it is also acceptable to state where a list of partners may be found.

Limited company guidelines

If your company is trading as a limited company the letterhead and order form stationery (whether printed or electronic versions) must include:
  • Your full registered company name
  • The company registration number and place of registration
  • The company registered address and the address of its place of business, if different
  • There is no need to include the names of the directors on the letterhead for a limited company, but if you choose to name directors all directors must be named
Most letterheads also include a telephone and fax number, a url for the business’ website and an email address.

Contract content

  • Client name, address & contact numbers, if you have been dealing with someone specific make sure that you include their name as well as the company if relevant.
  • The date.
  • Project/Work Title.
  • Project/Work Description.
  • Event Venue including address.
  • Event Name and Event date.
  • Installation date and time. If you have agreed a specific access time with the venue/organiser or preparation area, include this within your contract, stating any named parties such as the 'banqueting manager' or 'shopping mall deputy manager's' name if that's who you agreed these with.
  • Removal of Installation. If you are 'striking' the event, state the date and time when this will take place. If you are not required to go back to remove the decor after the event, I would recommend stating; 
The client is responsible for the removal of all provided decor and please note: 
Foil balloons may conduct electricity. Do not release helium filled foil balloons outdoors or use near overhead power lines. 
Foil balloons are non biodegradable and therefore should be disposed of carefully with general household waste. 
Latex Balloons, Warning! Children under eight years can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. Adult supervision required. Keep un-inflated balloons from children. Discard broken balloons at once.  
  • Pricing. I would recommend listing what this includes - this could include headings (not actual items) such as 'materials', 'Preparation of balloons', 'inflation and Installation', 'Delivery'', and 'removal of Installation' this will ensure that both parties know exactly what is included within the price and more importantly what's not included * see below regarding 'ownership of materials'.
  • Payment Terms. Deposit and payment of final balance - how much is the deposit, when is it due, is it a refundable or non-refundable deposit? When is the balance due, make sure that you clearly state a date. 
Many professionals suggest taking a down-payment or deposit of up to 50% before the start of any project, and collecting the balance by the day of completion, before turning over any goods or services to your client. 
  • Cancellation/ Force Majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract). What is your cancellation policy? Many companies will have cancellation fee's and terms that relates to the amount of notice given. These could read like this;
      • All requests for cancellations and/or transfers must be received in writing.
      • Changes will become effective on the date of written confirmation being received.
      • Event cancelled less than ** days prior to the event will be subject to a **% cancellation fee.
Ensure that your terms are fair and balanced, you cannot expect your customer to pay excessive cancellation charges and loss of up-front payments if good notice is given, contracts cannot be unbalanced, that means that they cannot weight heavily in your favour, as in it's not OK to state that a customer cannot cancel an order without giving a minimum of 6 weeks notice, but you can cancel an order within 24 hours!

Other things that can also be included within your contracts:

  • Ownership of materials; This will cover any hire/rental items that may be included as part of the event. It is important that client is aware of all rental items and how these items will be collected or if the client is responsible for the return of the items?  A return by date and any charges that the client may incur for lost or damaged items should also be included. 
  •  Design change and bad weather policy; Weather can play a major factor especially when creating decor for outside events. I would recommend adding any agreed changes or that decor could be subject to change in the event of bad weather.

Finally, when you email or send your 'contract of work' to your client I would also include your invoice (including full details of payment terms and how you want to be paid), a copy of your public liability insurance document (anyone who offers services such as event decor, face painting, candy carts or other party supplies should have public liability insurance cover) and risk assessment. I am unsure if risk assessments are a legal requirement for everyone, however many clients will request that you submit a risk assessment.

I have create a sample 'Contract of Work' letter, to show you how easy it is to create a contract between you and your customers, you could easily create something like this as a template, making it quick and simple every time!

 Example 'Contract of Work' letter.

I hope this helps? The business side of running a business can be very daunting sometimes, however, a contract is vital for your own protection, you never know when you might need it!
To learn more about the business side of a balloon business and much more why not join the Qualatex balloon Network, for more details on this program click here!

Happy Ballooning!

For more information regarding writing contracts visit:

For Public Liability cover in the UK contact the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tricks of the Trade - a few great tips and ideas for balloon artists!

I would like to start this blog by giving a big 'shout-out' to all our QBN Facebook members! Face book Groups are an amazing way to bring people together and create a strong community for like-minded people who have the same passion, and the great thing about the QBN Group is the way that our members help and support each other whether it's a design problem or motivational issue, there are plenty who regularly jump in and freely offer their help!

A few years ago the group collectively created a list of their favourite ballooning tips, their tricks of the trade, I have selected some of these to share with the Very Best Balloon Blog!

Tricks of the Trade 

1. To prevent static on your ribbon, wet your scissors before using them to curl the ribbon. (Dip the tip of your scissors in water).

2. When you finish something off with wide ribbon and you use two lengths together, remember to turn one around so they fall nice and do not stick to each other.

3. When the valve of a foil balloon does not easily open, then do not damage the valve by sticking in something thick like a straw. Use something thin and flat. You will have the best result with a florist wire folded in two. Hold the valve between two fingers and gently slide in the wire with the folded side. This should go very smoothly without ruining the valve. 

4. In the winter and on cold days, make sure that your latex balloons are not cold (if they feel hard to the touch). Warm them up by putting them in a warm place to soften up, a clothes dryer works very well!

5. If you want to add a 'raisin' or bead inside a foil or bubble balloon, do not push the 'raisin' or bead through the balloon's valve, position it at the entrance of the valve and then using a hand pump, gently pump a little air and this will send the 'raisin' or bead inside the foil... without any damage to the valve! You could also consider in buying a NicoLoon Tool for working with raisins in every type of balloon - once you get to know it well - it will save you a lot of time fumbling inside a foil for instance. You find it at

6. Remember not to refill foils in cold weather. If you fill them in a warm place and transport say a bouquet to a customer in your van and think that they have gone down and refill them in the cold van  - then you get a big problem when you deliver. (the helium will expand in the heat and then they will pop).

7. To cut feather boas with less mess, part the feathers where you intend to cut and spray with Aqua Net hair spray, seal ends with a dot of hot glue.

8. Use Clik-Clik magnets to organize precut ribbons - double knot when tying on makes a perfect dispenser when you need one of each color. Most sheet rock corners are magnetic - great to grab and use in the van for on the go !

9.  When I go on a job site visit (prior to the event of course) I make certain to take all of my measurements, find out where all of the plugs are, where the best place is to unload and set up.  I also take my click click magnets to see if they will stick to the ceiling but if the ceiling is high I have trouble seeing the ring on the magnet and sometimes it takes a while to get the magnet down so now I tie a long piece of dacron arch line onto the magnet ring so I can quickly pull it down.

10. If you get a cut in a foil balloon, use the Stretchy Balloon tape to seal it up.

11. When I go on a site visit, I bring my cell phone and try to take pics from every angle. Often I find that I need to know a detail I didnt think about, and I can refer to my phone (for ex. if they want to change a location of something, or I need to see rigging points, etc.). I also bring a notebook and my laser ruler (one of my favorite toys!). I measure everything with that!

12. Save your old/broken foils to use later... you can cover your balloon weights with them, looks nicer than a latex sandbag ;)

13. When transporting helium filled balloon arrangements, we use empty paper tubes to wrap the long ribbons around then using the Premium clips, we clip them to keep the ribbons short where they don't entangle with the other balloons during transport, then as we deliver them inside, we simply unclip and they are tangle free.

14. If you are creating a design where you want to stick foil balloons together, you have to try Click- Click's AMAZING Stretchy Balloon Tape! It may appear expensive, but you use only the smallest amount and it's so so strong!

15. Conwin grip tabs become amazingly strong when you heat the glue part, I use a hair dryer and then stick them on to the balloon I am working with!

These are great tips! If you have any that you would like to add we would love to hear them and I will add them to the QBN Groups list!

If you are a QBN Member or CBA and have not yet requested to join the group please come along and join us today, we truly are a friendly bunch! 
(To qualify as a QBN member you must have completed the QBN Balloon Basics Kit and passed the online test with a score of 80% or higher, you will then be sent your exclusive QBN membership number).

If you would like to know how to become a QBN member click HERE

Happy Ballooning!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sue's Wedding Album!

As the most important day of the bride and grooms life it is essential that as a professional event decorator we are able to design a wedding day to remember!

Very Best Balloon Blog
Elegant Entrance Decor - designed and created by Sue Bowler CBA

I have been designing and creating wedding decor for many years. When I exhibited at my first wedding fair I made some very silly errors. Rather than working with an elegant and fairly neutral colour palette to create my display decor, I overwhelmed my potential clients with every balloon colour that Qualatex offered, which as you can imagine did not make for a very pretty display!

If you would like any tips on how to prepare for Wedding Fairs I have written 3 blogs on the subject: