Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pricing for Profit!

Last week I saw a beautiful Christening cake which was being proudly shown off by the lady who had ordered it for her Granddaughters Christening that weekend. Standing next to the cake was the very talented young lady who made it. I asked her if cake making was her profession as she was obviously very talented, she replied, "no, I only do this as a hobby as I don't think anyone will pay what the cakes are really worth, I only just cover my costs, but I really love making cakes so I don't mind".

I wonder how many people working in our industry feel the same, that they cannot charge the true value for their work?

When I started my home based business over 20 years ago I had no idea how to cost my work, like the lovely cake maker, I loved what I did! I enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills and being able to put them into practise, every penny that I charged was used to buy my next batch of balloons, helium and accessories, there was never any left over for me!

My turning point was when I joined the Qualatex Balloon Network and worked through the business section of the course... it really did teach me how to cost my work!

I wrote a blog almost a year ago called: 'How Much Should I Charge For That', so I don't want to repeat everything that I wrote then, however, after doing some research recently I found a great online workshop that for me was pretty inspirational!
The 'How Much Should I Charge for That', blog shows you how to use the Job Cost form in detail, if you have not read that blog you might find it worth reading after you have read through this one!

The workshop is featured on Etsy and is called Etsy Success: The Art of Pricing for Profit, hosted by Megan Auman and Tara Gentile.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to make a 'Puffed Heart' using Qualatex Quick Link Balloons.

Wedding days are filled with love, romance and happiness and what greater symbol of love than a heart!

As many of you know working with the Qualatex Quick Links was a whole new world for me as well as a huge learning curve but an exciting journey, one that I am enjoying very much! I posted my first Quick Link blog last October  'How to make a simple Quick Link Heart for the uninitiated Quick Link users' , this shows how to create 2-dimentional hearts that are perfect for hanging as backdrops at a wedding and other suitable occasions.

When I found out that I was teaching at the 2014 World Balloon Convention earlier this year I decided that I would make it my mission to learn how to create a 3-dimentional 'Puffed Heart' for my Wedding Excellence class and was very happy with the results! Of course hearts are not just for weddings and can be used for many different events such as Valentines, Engagements and Anniversaries!

The heart shown below was created using 12" Quick Links in Rose & Goldenrod and for the connectors I used Caribbean Blue this created a triadic colour harmony, and it looked great!

This heart is quick and easy to make, it took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish using a Precision Air Inflator.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We're all dreaming of that perfect room to create in... Part 2

Last week I posted part one of this blog and it would appear by the number of views that the blog has received already that this is a hot topic for many of us! Sometimes we need a little inspiration to help us, not only with our day to day balloon designs and decor but also with how to be creative with our storage systems too!

Last week I asked members of the QBN (Qualatex Balloon Network) Facebook Group if they would kindly share how they set up their working and storage area's and any tips that they might have, I was overwhelmed  by the number of responses that I received and felt that they should all be included.

Jenny Murphy of Red Balloon shares her top tips:
My local sweetshop was a huge help, they supplied me with empty haribo boxes! All my balloons are stored in these. For my most popular balloons we keep them in a pick and mix stand closest to the workstation so they are always at hand. The balloon boxes are stored on IKEA shelving according to size, brand and occasion. 
For our wire, poles etc we have large brackets on the wall at different heights. This has made life so much easier to organise and work with. 

"I have a small study that I use to work from in my home and space is at a premium! 

I bought 3 x Single wardrobe carcasses from IKEA and put wire drawers in one (for ribbons, weights and fabrics), plastic drawers in the middle one (4 for modelling balloons and 4 for foils / bubbles) and the last one just has shelves.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

We're all dreaming of that perfect room to create in...

For many balloon business's creating the perfect working space can be problematic usually due to the fact that space is the limiting factor, I know that to be very much the situation for me and I can only dream that one day I will have a purpose built Balloon Studio/Workroom (I hope my husband reads this). But for now I have worked hard to create an efficient working space, one that allows me to store away (tidily) all the items that I might need to create something new and exciting without having to hunt high and low to find everything... but that was not without a little inspiration from a friend!
Recently I visited Alberto Falcone and had the opportunity to work in his 'Balloon L.A.B', and although not a huge space it was the perfect working space with everything neatly organised for maximum efficiency and ease. My 2 favourite features in Alberto's LAB was his equipment set-up and his storage area's plus the fact that he also has a permanent photo area set up and ready to use!

Conwin Dual Split Second Sizer 
Having the right equipment set up and always ready to use is for me very important and Alberto had the perfect solution! Alberto works with a Conwin Dual Split Second Sizer that is connected via a Quick Switch adapter to both helium and *nitrogen, making it quick and simple to work with any balloons with a mere flick of a switch he can work with either gases.

Helium/Nitrogen Quick Switch

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lisa Swiger shares her Quick Link top tips and a 'Beeauitiful' Bee Sculpture design with step by step instructions.

Lisa Swiger CBA
Lisa Swiger CBA of Blooming Balloons, North Carolina, USA is one of our Quick Link experts and she has very kindly offered to share some of her top tips with the 'Very Best Balloon Blog'!
Lisa's Quick Link Tips:
* Tie as tightly as possible. This gives better structure to your sculptures. * If using with helium, hi-float works great! I recommend tying off the link tip before hi-floating so that extra hi-float doesn't stay inside the tip, wasting hi-float and weighing down the tie points. * I always trim tips and tails. This gives a cleaner look and when using helium, improves float time. * When doing air-filled, I only inflate to about 9 inches. This makes it easier to do 3D sculptures because the balloons are spongier and can be handled more. * I usually twist the balloon chains around each other, vs. using 5" duplets to lock them together. This is just a personal preference. I like the stability of have the sculpture stand without 5" balloons holding it together. I add the 5" duplets at the end to finish the piece. * When I do use 4 balloon clusters or duplets to hold QL chains together, I always twist them around each other to lock them. I've seem people just place them in without locking and the sculpture comes undone! * When I build with chains, I usually have a 5" connector at each end to start and finish the row, instead of just tying the chain in. * When building something round (like an apple or a hot air balloon) that needs to hold its shape, I'll use 5" on the outside, but 11" for the inside to give extra structure inside and hold it out better.

Lisa's Lovely Quick Link Bee Sculpture

Bee Sculpture created by Lisa Swiger CBA