Monday, September 21, 2015

The Importance of Continuing Education

I cannot believe that we are already ⅔ of the way through 2015! What an exciting year it has been for education in the balloon world and there is still more to come!
1st Place Large Sculpture
 2014 Moscow Balloon Festival
Alexander Solomatin CBA
For me, I am getting ready to head off to Russia for the 15th International Moscow Balloon Festival. The first Moscow Balloon Festival was held in 2000, and my first trip to this event was in 2002. I feel very fortunate to have seen how balloon artists in Russia have developed and grown within this relatively short time, and I am very excited to see what incredible designs and sculptures await me later this week! 

Being a talented balloon artist and running a successful balloon business does not just happen. It takes a great deal of commitment and investment to ongoing education - and not just learning new ballooning skills, but business skills as well. That was almost my downfall.  Fortunately with help from the Qualatex Balloon Network and attending my first balloon convention, I was able to profitably operate my balloon company.

As many of you know, I no longer run a balloon business. Today, I have several roles in the balloon industry - one being an instructor. I very much enjoy my role in education and am very fortunate to be part of the Qualatex teaching team. A lot has changed since I began teaching, especially in recent years. In the early days, an instructor would prepare a range of exciting designs to demonstrate to delegates, inspiring and wowing in many cases! Today, our classes offer so much more! We know the importance of teaching the skills to create a great range of designs - designs that can be easily reproduced and are sellable. We also know that selling skills are not easy and therefore we introduce our delegates the art of selling. And running a balloon business is a whole different skill, so we ensure that everyone knows how to job cost their work for profit. How about event management and understanding elements and principles of design? Yes, we cover that too!

Qualatex Tour Sacramento with Luc Bertrand CBA and Connie Iden-Monds CBA
Earlier this summer the Qualatex Education team launched into a very exciting Qualatex U.S. Tour. The all-star cast of instructors included Luc Bertrand, CBA,  Jill Shortreed, CBA, Connie Iden-Monds, CBA, Amanda Armstrong, CBA, Keith Stirman, CBA, Dante Longhi, CBA, Lisa Swiger, CBA and Melody Yesberg, CBA.

Next week, Dominic Cassidy launches the next leg of the tour, teaching Twisted Classic Decor with U.S instructors Dante Longhi, CBA, in Columbus, OH, on Monday 21st, Terri Stokes, CBA, and Cam Woody, CBA, in Charlotte, NC on Thursday 24th and finally with Teri once again in Phoenix, AZ on Monday 28th.

Qualatex Tour Miami with Keith Stirman CBA and Danta Longhi CBA
I have the privilege of concluding this awesome tour. My class is a little different from those taught by Luc, Keith and Dominic, I will be teaching Elegant Decor for Black Tie Affairs! My tour takes me to Bogart, GA on Thursday 8th October, Los Angeles, CA on Monday 12th, Chicago, IL, on Thursday 15th and my final day will be in Dallas, TX on Sunday 18th! I will be working with a group of very talented instructors: Cam Woody, CBA, Melody Yesberg, CBA, Anne McGovern, CBA and Connie Iden-Monds, CBA.

So what makes these classes any different from others classes that you may have attended? 

Before I answer that question, I would like to share with you a little bit of the feedback we have received from those who have already attended Luc's and Keith's classes.

"Luc is the total package. The material was very well developed and his delivery was fun, funny, and dripping with morsels of knowledge that are easy to put into practice. This is, by far, the best decor class I've taken. I learned so much about both practical designs and their business applications."
"Have taken three classes on large–scale decor, and by far this is the best! Fresh, new ideas & cost and time saving techniques. In the balloon business 15 years, and I loved this class."
"I thought that I could easily create the designs by just looking at the photos, but I learned different and efficient ways that will help me bring my imagination to life, in a simple and less time consuming way. I also learned different techniques on how to best use my materials to save money and time."
"... the class was amazing!!! It's paid off really well! Tomorrow I'm doing a rainbow design we did in class for the SF Hotel Advisory Committee!!! I really learned a great deal and took Connie's advice! It's their annual golf tournament with 40 major hotels and corporate sponsors!"
I wish I could post all the amazing feedback that we have had, but I think that just these few says it all!

All the classes on this tour have one thing in common - they are a complete package. Of course fantastic designs are being taught - designs that can be sold immediately after the class has ended. But participants will also learn valuable business tips and leave with a handbook packed with marketing and business information that will become a great resource when help is needed after the day! And what better way to sell decor designs than having a beautiful collection of high quality images that you can use in your portfolios, websites and on marketing materials!

I hope that if you are in any of the U.S. locations that myself and Dom will be visiting over the next few weeks that you will come along and join us for what I can only describe as an inspiring, energising, action-packed, fun-filled and memorable day! Get registration information here:

For those of you who are not in the U.S., there are many great regional courses around the world. In Europe just check out the training calendar by visiting or click HERE. Don't forget there is the return of the awesome Millennium Jam! Four days and nights of awesome workshops, intense contests, lots of free 'jamming the night away', and unforgettable evening activities! For other shows and events visit or click HERE.

I hope to see some of you very soon!

Happy Ballooning!


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