Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Balloons and Photography - Nicci Rene Shares Her Two Passions.

When I look at all the amazing balloons and designs posted on Facebook and Instagram, the photographs that stand out most are those that have been taken in a creative way — the photo captures the emotion of the event, or makes the balloons look exciting and fun! Balloons are very much a product that is sold on emotion. We don't sell a Column or an Arch; we sell the "Wow!" factor. Balloons are "trendy" and used in a variety of adverting campaigns as well as many different types of events.

Nicci Rene.

I recently interviewed Nicci Rene, of Balloon Boutiques, London, U.K. I have known Nicci for a number of years and  had the pleasure of working with her on several occasions at events in London. Nicci was part of the team that recently worked on the incredible Chelsea Jungle project at Chelsea Flower Show earlier this year. Balloons at Chelsea Flower show — wow, another amazing first! Even more proof balloons are on-trend!  Not only is Nicci a very talented balloon artist, but she is a very competent photographer, too. 

Nicci started to work with balloons when she worked as a Saturday girl in a party store. Her boss did not believe in training and left Nicci to her own creative devices. Twenty-nine years later, Nicci is still working with balloons but in a very different way.

Earlier this year after twenty-five years of working at and then later owning a party store, Nicci decided it was time to close. 
"I felt that I had out grown my shop and wanted to take my ideas and business to a different level. The shop was holding me back. Retail shops were struggling, and the location I was in was not busy enough. I noticed a significant decline in sales, and it was becoming worrying. 
It was the perfect time to close. Over the past 5 years, I started to change the way I designed events with balloons. I had built a good name and reputation as Balloon Bouquets and this gave me the confidence that I could work from home and make a living. At first I was really out of my comfort zone and it took a bit of getting used to, but now I absolutely love it — I feel free!" 
I asked Nicci what she believes has helped her to grow her business.
"My business is growing every day through the help of social media. Facebook was great for me when I had the shop, but I discovered Instagram a few years back and this has proven to be amazing. I love it! It connects you with like-minded professional people, be that companies or independent people. For me, I felt Instagram was more classy, and people's profiles were more elegant and of a higher standard. It was perfect for me with the new direction I wanted to take my company. It has connected me with lots of corporate companies and private clients.  In my own experience, I have found people connect with you more on Instagram than Facebook.
Currently, with the way I have changed my business direction from party and classic d├ęcor to detailed elegant pieces that range from simple designs to the organic style, I am finding that my clientele love my style and are always looking for something different, from personlised bubbles and centerpieces with the addition of lots of non-balloon materials. Big balloons and organic is very popular at the moment. At this time, the most popular colours vary from gold, silver, pinks, and ivory, plus different shades of greens and blues."

What do you believe is the secret to success?
"A successful business needs lots of great qualities. I’m very conscientious in the way I present my balloons, and I do my best to deliver a high standard at all times. It is important to me from the start, when the client first contacts you through to the very end of having a highly professional attitude and service. I love having a good relationship with my customers and making them feel comfortable with anything they need. I set the standards high from the beginning; I do not lower my standard or devalue myself doing things too cheap. Presentation is very important from how you deliver your work right through until the photographs and showcasing, either via my website or through social media, and I like to keep my style consistent."

What are your favourite Qualatex® balloons to work with?
"Some of my favourite Qualatex products currently are Deco Bubbles, as I love the amazing things you can do with them and the fact that they look stunning and elegant. Big 3ft. balloons are one of my favorites, too — the impact when you fill a space with them are just wow. And Superagates are so pretty. I love adding these to design, and my clients love them as they are very unusual."

Where do you find your inspiration?
"I get my design inspirations from many different places. I am always looking at balloon artists from around the world, seeing what they do, and how they stylise their decor. I also look at the floral industry and get inspiration from there. I love the pretty side to balloon designs. I make a lot up as I go along. Once a client contacts me, and I know what they want to achieve, and I've seen the venue and know what the event is, then I get creative!"
How important is taking a good photograph to you?
"I decided to teach myself photography as I would produce some amazing designs and take pictures on either a standard camera or my smartphone. When it came to showing the photographs, they just didn’t do the balloon decor any justice and you could never get the true feeling of how amazing the balloons actually looked.  I wasn’t happy in showing them to clients or happy about putting them on my website or on any of my social media channels. I knew the look I wanted and it was all part of my change in direction for my business. I bought a good professional camera and started to take pictures the way I wanted the balloons to look. I create different looks and styles of pictures depending on what the event was. You still need to have an eye for shooting pictures. I always think about angles and always have the editing in mind when I'm shooting. I always shoot in raw* so when it comes to editing the pictures you can do so much and create different effects. I really enjoy the photography and editing part of the balloons. It’s changed my whole image and would highly recommend it to anyone." 

I totally agree with Nicci; learning to take a good photograph could really help your business stand out against other balloon companies. A great photograph is worth a thousand words and in our very visual industry, it is important that we find the best way to take those amazing photographs. There are some great articles that you can read, and of course, you could take a course.

A huge thank you to Nicci for sharing her very inspiring story. Moving her business from the high street to being home-based is a big decision, but certainly for Nicci it's proven to be the best move and the opportunity to follow her dreams. Her dream job would be to drape balloons from all the windows at Buckingham Palace, organic style!

Happy ballooning!


RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image, information is compressed and lost.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderful photos. Very creative angles (as stated in the article). Thank you for sharing.

Mark Zettler, Publisher
BALLOONS & Parties Magazine