Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spotlight interview with self confessed 'Education Junky,' Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons, Melbourne, Australia

Tina Giunta
Tina first discovered balloons 16 years ago when she saw balloon creations in the window of her local party store.  This inspired her to make her own centrepieces for her son's Christening. From this event, Tina was asked to decorate parties for friends, and before long she found herself decorating almost every weekend!

So what attracted Tina into running her own balloon business?

"I only really registered a business name so that I could buy at wholesale prices. It really was just a hobby for me. But as I mixed in circles with other young families, surrounded by young mums who were very supportive and encouraging while word of mouth kept spreading, I found myself just falling into running a business."

How did you learn to work with Balloons?

"In the beginning, I would study my Balloon Images Magazine and the Qualatex® catalogue, and I would just try and work things out. My work was quite basic back then and I found that this was enough. But as my hunger to try new products and more complicated designs grew, I looked into attending classes. My local supplier told me about the Australian Balloon Convention that was being held about an hour away from my home, so I decided to attend —and well, obviously I got hooked!"

Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
"My work space is a warehouse with an office. It's 100 square feet with an extra 50 square feet of mezzanine. We are not a retail store so we don't open to the public, but on occasions people will make appointments to discuss what they want. My website has hundreds of photographs on it, so most people prefer to just email or call.
I have one part-time employee and use contractors for the bigger jobs. My contractors are people that I have built a very good relationship with over the years. They run their own businesses, so they are experienced and have good working ethics."
Confetti Balloons
Beautiful confetti balloons by Tina Giunta

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting a balloon business?
" Learn your craft is your number one priority! Attend classes and conventions as much as possible so that you feel confident in what you offer your customers. When you believe in your work and you genuinely love what you do, people will see that in you! They feel your excitement towards their event and it makes them feel special. Once you have their trust, it is so much easier to get them to part with their hard-earned money!"
 What industry events have you attended during your career?
"I am an education junky! I attended every class and convention humanly possible in Australia and three World Balloon Conventions, one of which I attended as a scholarship recipient and the most recent as an instructor. 
1st Place Medium Balloon Sculpture.

At the 2015 Australian Balloon Convention, I was awarded 1st prize for my medium balloon sculpture and also the People's Choice award. I also won 1st place for my column. This was a very proud moment in my career!"

1st Place Balloon Column Competition.

What do you believe is the most successful way to promote your balloon work?
"I don't believe that there is any one single way that is better than any other to promote my business. I think that everything works together. Word of mouth is still alive and well, but you really need to have a website. Facebook and Instagram are also very important, as it shows people that we are active and that we keep up with the trends, and it also gives them a constant reminder that we are there."
 What kind of balloon services do you offer?
"We do deliveries, but our main service is decor. Because we don't open to the public, we have the freedom of working on site if we choose to. We always set up our balloons and never leave them in plastic bags. Even if the venue tells us to leave them in the bags, I always insist that I need to check that nothing has popped. I don't even like them helping me to remove the designs from the bags as they generally make my job harder when I have to untangle the mess!"
What kinds of occasions and clients do you typically work with?
"I would say that it is 50% corporate and 50% private functions."
What qualities are important for someone to be successful in the balloon industry?
"I believe that you need to be enthusiastic, show genuine interest in your customer's event, and that you should treat people in the same way that you like to be treated, then you can't go wrong!"
Organic Balloon Arch
Organic Arch by Tina Giunta.

 What is your favourite balloon creation to make?

"At the moment, I would have to say anything organic."
Organic Balloon Decor
Organic Balloon Decor by Tina Giunta.

What is your favourite Qualatex balloon product to work with and why?
"I love, love, love Bubbles! They are elegant, durable, and so versatile."

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Balloon Topiary Tree
Elegant Balloon Centrepiece
by Tina Giunta.
"Everywhere!  My garden, fabric, paintings, the sky! But when you are working with a client on a specific event, it would normally come from their invitation or their cake, and then I expand on that."

 What would be your dream job?
"That would have to be the opportunity to transform a blank room into a fairy-tale land — filled with blossom trees and weeping willows, green, green grass, and rolling hills covered in beautiful flowers (sorry, I got a bit carried away there), and all this would be for a client where money would be no object!

Shivoo Balloons has given me some of the most rewarding experiences of my life after becoming a mother. Through my business, I have met some amazing people from all over the world and have learnt more than I thought possible. I have been given the opportunity as an instructor to travel Australia and the U.S., and through teaching I have been able to share my passion for creating beautiful things with balloons. I am so grateful that I stumbled on this unlikely career 16 years ago and look forward with excitement to what is still ahead."
A huge thank you to Tina for sharing her ballooning story. It is very inspiring to hear how others have grown and developed their businesses from a hobby to a very successful, profitable, and flourishing  balloon business! 

Many of you will have the opportunity to see Tina teaching in Australia and the U.S. as part of the 2017 Qualatex World Tour. For more details and locations, click HERE.

Happy Ballooning!


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