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

Many balloon professionals use nitrogen. Like Helium it is also an inert gas, so it cannot react with another element to cause fire. Nitrogen is also a bigger molecule, so it will not shrink as much as air does in low temperatures. 

The storage system that Alberto uses in his studio is from IKEA, they have a great range that they feature under Home Office, 'KALLAX' seems to be a hot favourite amongst the balloon community! They offer a variety of different boxes at different prices that you can use to store balloons and other materials.

Storage solutions is always a hot topic on the QBN (Qualatex Balloon Network) Facebook page, so I asked group members to share their top tips when creating the perfect working space.

My "Balloon Cave" - Jill Shortreed, Charleston Balloon Company, Charleston, USA.

My "Balloon Cave" as I affectionately call is home based. Most of our d├ęcor is created here and then transported to their event destinations.

I have 7 key areas:
1. Balloon/accessory storage: here all our latex is stored in shoe box type bins each color and size has it's own. Foils are stored in file folder boxes that are numbered and searchable via computer file, ie. if I type over the hill all the foils related to over the hill will show up with their picture and storage file.
Jill shows her very well organised balloon & accessories storage.

2. Air Inflation Station: this where our PA, Airforce, glue pans, tools, etc are located. Along with work boards and prepulled orders.
Inflation Work Station

3. Helium Station: Helium tanks, Duplicator 2, precut ribbon, sand weights, etc are all here under a balloon coral for easy inflation.
4. Photo/Vinyl storage: Here we store our reference materials (Images, Training DVD's, Catalogs, etc. Our Silhouette and vinyl are also stored here, as is a roll down screen to photograph new creations. We use the wall space for a task board with delegated jobs,
5. Office: 2 desks (1 mine and the other for assistant) are setup here, we share a central printing station, two phone lines for easy order taking. We recently started using a CRM Program (Customer Relationship Management) to help automate and streamline our procedures.
The office

6. Assembly/Work area: Large Center workstation with power that is primarily used for centerpiece assembly, bouquets, and other projects that require a large work surface.
7. Equipment Storage: Base plates, pipes, aluminum, frame work, along with larger tools, such as drill press, table saw, etc are stored in an exterior building. 
I think that covers our whole work space, We do use a Call center to answer our phones on the weekend, if we are at a conference, or will be unavailable due to large jobs. This ensures that our phones are always answered.

The balloon industry is filled with wonderfully creative people, here are some of their very creative storage and working ideas!

Pat Crosland has a very well organised work room, she uses a combination of IKEA storage units with boxes and candy containers and a drawer system that she bought from Wal-Mart. 

Another great IKEA idea, they have so many great products that work perfectly for many of us! This is one from Dominic Cassidy, he uses the IKEA Shoes Storage drawer system for storing rolls of vinyl, keeping them clean and in perfect condition!

Another awesome idea for storing foil balloons - use a trouser/pant hanger!

Gutter piping is used by a number of balloon professionals for ribbon storage!

Sometimes house space alone is not enough, a great solution is to move outside into the garden and build a purpose built room or to convert a garage.

Tonja also suggests: "One of the best things we have done is get an iPad mini. We use it to take pictures of what we make then I have them separated by albums "baby, wedding, pedestals, etc..." To show customers. Easy and quick! I also have an app my employee clock in/out on it. It was free as long as I have 10 employees or less. Love it"!!!

Work Table Top Tip
Whatever size work table you think you need DOUBLE IT, we ended up with 2 x full length work tops, they have worked out great for making larger designs we never dreamt we would get bookings for when we first started. Also make the design a comfortable space for you to work in. And finally, buy the best equipment you can afford... Pam Pearce CBA

I have had so many great ideas and pictures sent to me I have decided to make this into a 2 part blog, and will post the 2nd part later this week... so watch out for part 2 and more great storage ideas and work space tips!

A huge thank you once again to our QBN Facebook group members who have so very kindly taken the time to share their ideas with the Very Best Balloon Blog!

Happy Ballooning!



Balloon Express said...

Thank you Sue Lovely blog as usual My Big Bug Bear is the dust that collects on items which are not in daily use A perfect solution for storing Foils would be most useful

Chauncey Lemieux said...

That is a great blog about organizing

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