Thursday, December 7, 2017

Balloons by Number: How Mike Hurst's Journey to WBC Inspired Him to Create Quick Link Numbers.

Designing a party is exciting but can also be challenging. Next week, I will be decorating a big corporate event with a fabulous team of balloon artists working with me. This year's theme is DISCO, and I am looking forward to us creating a room filled with "Mirror Balls" — 3' giant confetti-filled balloons that will reflect the coloured lighting within the room. In addition to this, the client wanted us to create decor for the stage. Last year, we made musical notes that we suspended against the star cloth backdrop. This year, I thought it would be great to make the word "disco" using Quick Link Balloons®. So, here is where my challenge really started. I am not a Quick Link expert. In fact, I am still very much a learner when it comes to designing with Quick Links! It was time for me to find a Quick Link expert! 

Earlier this year Mike Hurst, CBA from Reds in Brackley, U.K., ran an introductory webinar with BAPIA* showing viewers how to make a number "One" and to talk about the art of creating numbers using Quick Link Balloons. Due to great feedback and demand, he ran a one-day hands-on course, teaching delegates how to create all the numbers. Sadly I missed it! Mike is not someone that you would normally see on the teaching circuit. He only started working with balloons in 2013 when he attended the Qualatex® Fundamentals course

So when I visited Mike earlier this week, I asked what inspired him to learn how to design the numbers. This was something Mike did not have to think about, his response was quick - "The World Balloon Convention 2016 in New Orleans." Mike only decided to attend WBC at the last minute. He knew that he wanted to go, but Mike and his wife Jane were just about to move their business — Party with Reds — to a new location, and the timing was not great for him to be jetting off to the USA. 

By chance, Mike made a connection with Ziv Raviv, host of Balloon Artist Podcast and founder of balloon artist collegewho was running a WBC referral scheme at that time. Although the cost was a huge consideration, he knew deep down that attending WBC would benefit him and his business greatly. I asked Mike what he felt he gained.

"Firstly and very importantly, it was building new relationships and contacts that would and since have opened new doors and opportunities. Then, of course, the classes, learning new styles and techniques have proved invaluable. Plus it boosted my confidence greatly! I truly loved the networking. It's not something that you consider before you go, but you meet so many like-minded people from all around the world. Plus you get the opportunity to spend time with the instructors who generously offered advice and support." On return, Mike went into full-scale production making and selling designs that he had learned during his time at WBC. His newfound skills and art were received very well by his customers, and the designs were literally "flying off the shelf" before he had even had a chance to price them! I asked Mike how quickly he made a return on his WBC investment. "About a year. However, it would have been quicker if I had not also invested in great new equipment, a Premium Twin Air Sizer, that I knew would benefit me and the business greatly. Plus I also attended the Qualatex Event in Slovenia where I took my CBA exam!"

Mike's interest in making the numbers was through networking conversation at WBC and talking to David Mahoney about the yard numbers that he makes. Mike felt that this would be something that he could potentially sell in the U.K. On his return, he made a number "Three" for his godson's third birthday, but decided that working with Quick Links might be easier. Mike had learned how to work with Quick Links and how to make fabulous arches when he attended the Qualatex Magical Party Design course. "This has to be one of my favourite classes, it really gave me the spark to design and create the numbers."

For me, Mike was the perfect person to ask for help, and thankfully, he agreed and set about designing the word "DISCO" for the party. It was important for me to learn how to make the letters, so I spent an action-packed afternoon with Mike earlier this week, where we made the "I," which would be our template for height and then the "S," to ensure that the proportions where correct.

This was somewhat of a challenge as the space in Mike's shop was limited, so we ended up taking the letters outside to see how they looked and we received some great comments from passers-by who were intrigued by what we were doing.

I asked Mike if he would be going to WBC next year in San Diego? "Absolutely! I would not miss it for the world! Once again, I want to gain as much as possible from my investment. This time, I have set myself a new challenge by entering three of the competitions. I entered the Mystery Box competition when I attended the UK leg of the Qualatex World Tour with Aimee Smith and we won! It really gave me the push that I needed."

For those of you who are wondering how you can learn how to make Mike's Quick Link numbers, you will be excited to know that there will be an online course available next year, so watch this space. I will keep you posted! 

Mike has very kindly offered to share his first online webinar demonstration that he did with BAPIA showing how to make his number "One." It was an interactive class where the viewers made a number "One" at the same time. Cool idea! 

Other than attending WBC 2018 and entering competitions, Mike's next challenge will be to design the whole alphabet, which he will also make available online — he's designed five letters already. 😉

A huge thank you to Mike for helping me with my "Disco" dilemma, and for being such a great teacher! I wish him every success with his competitions at WBC and with his exciting ballooning journey!

I will report back after our event next week and show you how Mike's letters and the party decor looked!

Have a great week, and happy Ballooning!

*BAPIA - Balloon and Party Industry Alliance



Joanne Cleghorn said...

Nice article and nice information. I like these all balloons.

Unknown said...

Very nice....