Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Part 2 - Looking at the Brighter Side of a World-Wide Pandemic!

Recently, I posted Part 1 of my "Looking at the Brighter Side of a World-Wide Pandemic" blog. In this post I asked Alberto Nava, of Crazy Balloons, Chris Adamo of The Balloon Crew, Balloons Online and and to Greg Brown of BMTV, Balloon Market, and Signature Balloons to share one or two positive things that they have been able to bring to their businesses as a result of the pandemic. 

In Part 2, we visited three more balloon businesses, Luiz Carlos Da Costa Silva of Cenário Balões in São Paulo, Brazil, Adrain How of Give Fun in Singapore, and Joette Meyers Giardina of Balloon Coach and Party People Events, in Florida, USA.

Beautiful Personalised Balloons by Cenário Balões, 
 São Paulo, Brazil. 

Let's visit Brazil, where Luiz Carlos, addresses the changes that they have made to their business and business life as a result of the pandemic:

"2020 was a challenging year for all of us. It brought us many problems, but also new opportunities in the world of balloons. During this period, we noticed a huge increase in new entrepreneurs in the balloon market. At the same time, new customers have discovered the possibility of gifting and celebrating balloons. New niche markets have been discovered or rediscovered. We realized that the demand was very high, exactly in the hardest period of the pandemic. For us, especially, the pandemic was the trigger for making a planned decision a few years ago: Reinforce the performance in our balloon boutique and enter definitively for the distribution of Qualatex balloons in Brazil, taking advantage of the growing market. Finally, after 18 years, we made the difficult decision to stop decorating at parties and events. From now on, we will have more time for a well-deserved family break, but also to dedicate ourselves a little more to travel and share some of our experience with other professionals around the world. New times, new challenges. Let 2021 come! We leave it here, our wish for a world free of “COVID 19” and much success to all balloon artists on the planet!" - Luiz Carlos

Luiz Carlos Da Costa Silva

And now to Singapore, where Adrian How of Give Fun, in Singapore gives us an insight to business life during the pandemic.

"2020, what a year! A year where we all faced unprecedented setbacks, learning and re-learning, re-evaluating our priorities in life and business, appreciating the importance of togetherness while braving through the storm. While we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (COVID-19 vaccine has finally been developed and will soon be made available to everyone. Hurray!), what we have learned by persevering through hard times is definitely the highlight of the year for the business and myself.

We are working on Give Fun’s expansion project in Malaysia pre COVID-19 times. Due to the Circuit Breaker (a nationwide partial lockdown initiative by Singapore to contain Covid-19) and border control between Singapore and Malaysia, we were forced to choose a country to be ‘locked down’ and we chose Malaysia. That decision costs us a 10-month (and counting) separation from our business. We’ve clearly underestimated the damage Covid-19 can bring. The first few weeks were painful; when we temporarily shut our business down, worked out our finances, planned resources during downtime and many more things that we don’t usually worry about suddenly become ever-so-important. As much as I wanted to be on ground fighting the invisible battle, I found that being  physically away from the business and operation also means there’s only so much I can do. Things started to get better in the next few weeks, and the rest is history. 

Although everyone has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, learning to dance in the rain is probably a more sensible choice. Being separated from our business allowed me to sit down and rethink it - where we are now and where we are heading to next provided a greater clarity and understanding of the business, and it equipped us for the unexpected and plan for the next move, without distractions. Sometimes the vision is clearer when seeing things from a distance. All these may not have happened if life was ‘normal’. Well,  welcome to the new normal!  Also on another positive note, working from home for the past 10 months also means I’ve had more time to be with my children and seeing them grow, some perks that otherwise would not exist.

Besides, the pandemic also taught us to re-emphasize our roots again - to give fun. We listened to our customers, studied their needs and what they truly wanted, and spent a great amount of time in the creation process. In the span of 10 months, we’ve launched our widest Halloween and Christmas Collections. We have created an entire new product line of Balloons Centrepieces, Balloon Bouquet Boxes, Gift Baskets and more. We’re going back to our basics, to give fun and to let people spread their love and fun effortlessly, because sending love is not cancelled. These are the crops we reaped after rounds of Zoom team meetings, countless WhatsApp exchanges, discussion through phone calls & voice notes and refinements through emails. We are unable to be physically present under the new normal, but the silver lining amid the pandemic is that we can still achieve things virtually and remotely effectively. 

Design by Give Fun, Singapore

It is important to constantly look for the good things in life and be optimistic, a lot of things (and the good ones too) would not happen if life was normal. Ending the short sharing above with my favourite quote - Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain" - Adrian

Our final stop of our journey is in the US, where Joette Meyers Giardina shares her story...

"In January of 2020, Party People Events was on a roll: Johnathon Gerber, CBA, had expanded his lease from 2,100 to 5,000 square feet to include a Retail Store front that was attached to his warehouse space so we could attract more local business. 
Party People Events is known best for our large installations at hotels and convention centers in Orlando about 45 minutes from our main workshop in Auburndale, Florida.

As the marketing manager, I was working 6 days a week to get the balloon shop up and running,  as well as attending chamber meetings and training staff. On March 5, we had a huge party with the Auburndale Chamber to celebrate the expansion. Then with social distancing, the team went to working from home.   

The down time in production allowed for the admin team to work on systems. Johnathon and Ginger built a new website,, that now has ordering online. It is something we had been wanting to do for a while but had not had time to do.
New customer management system, AllProWebTools is connected to our website for the team to be able to clock in and out of work, put contacts in the system, assign account managers to customers and keep everything in one place, including staff training.
Now when I network at an event (online or in person) and have a lead, I can put the new contacts information in the system and assign to one of the team to follow up with a quote if needed.
Rather than calling the team member to see if they followed up, I can go into AllProWebtools from my phone or computer and see the emails, quotes etc between the team and client.

Johnathon then set up Task in the system so after an event books the task of creating packing list, pulling the balloons for the job etc. is all set in the system.

Having extra down time gave time to the admin team to put systems in place for growth that was always pushed to the side during the rush of being busy in production.
Our new website now has better SEO, and is all tied into the customer management program to increase efficiency and ready for the next step of growth.
I have also had the opportunity to met new people on Zoom Networking meetings that often were unable to attend many of the  face to face events.

On a personal note, I have been able to restructure my days to have more time to focus on exercise and health. Our family is in better shape than we have ever been, with the opportunity to prepare more fresh food than ever and do strength training.

As Balloon Coach I have found that there is amazing resilience in our industry. So many pivoted from large scale decor to yard art and deliveries to keep their business going. 

Where there is a will there is a way. I have seen several businesses grow and sell more than they ever have because they were able to pivot.

And other large businesses take the BREATHER and work on systems so they are ready to rise stronger than ever when it's safe for large gatherings again.

I love seeing how balloons are still being able to bring joy around the world during this wild time in our history." - Joette



This year has given so many businesses challenges that they never thought that they would encounter, and in many cases the opportunity to work on things that they never seemed to find time to do. Businesses have diversified, and made big changes to their operations, and many for the better, I suppose times like these is where the saying "every cloud has a silver lining" comes from. One thing that seems to be pretty consistent with everyone that I have spoken to is how many of us have been able to enrich our family and personal time during these crazy months, I know for sure that has been one of the biggest positives that has come out of this pandemic for me! 

My hope is that 2021 offers us all the opportunity to return to some sort of normality safely, and that our industry continues to grow and prosper in the way that it has over the past year! 

A huge thank you to all the contributors to this post, it was so enlightening to read their stories from around the globe! 

Wishing you all a very happy, safe and prosperous 2021! 

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Looking at the Brighter Side of a World-Wide Pandemic!

We all know that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on overall health, jobs, businesses and the economy to name just a few. But being the ever-optimist, I personally have found a few positives during this truly unsettled and rollercoaster year.

I thought that this would be a great opportunity to ask a few of my ballooning friends from around the world if they could share one or two positive things that they have been able to bring to their business or business life as a result of the pandemic! 

I will be sharing their stories over a couple of blog posts... Let's start our journey in Italy. Italy was the first European country to become overwhelmed by the pandemic and the first European country to go into a national lockdown! 

Alberto Nava, CBA, of Crazy Balloons in Milan, Italy 

"Let’s be honest here, the pandemic here in Italy, like in the rest of the world, hit us like a rock. And I am talking a mountain sized rock. We are invoicing about 10% of what we invoiced last year. Supply chain of Qualatex balloons has also been compromised because of the pandemic. 

If there’s one thing that this pandemic taught me, it  is that if you can’t adapt your business to a sudden change, you will not survive.

We started doing deliveries, embracing a totally new market for us. Also, we sat down and we decided to offer deliveries using only the balloons we had in stock (luckily we had huge inventory). That’s where creativity came to the rescue to fulfill every request.

We also started “not so virtual parties”.  This is a virtual party with a balloon delivery to the home of the birthday child on the morning of the party to create the mood, a live director during the party and an edited video clip of the party delivered the following week to the birthday child to treasure the memories.

We requested and received special EU lost funding for completely redoing our website, to be ready when people will be vaccinated and will just want to party....

My new motto is to "never stop creating, even in dark times, light can be found in balloons."

Learn how to create this adorable frame by Alberto Nava - Visit Balloon Images Issue 1 2020

Let's now travel to the other side of the world and ask Chris Adamo, CBA, of The Balloon Crew, Balloons Online, and in Sydney, Australia, what positives has he experienced during these difficult times?

"I would say that that a huge positive from this dreadful situation was the time to reflect and re-organise my business and business systems. Looking at the bricks and mortar retail shop we cleared out a huge amount of old stock, knocked down shelving and a giant old light box to make room for new hang cell walls and inviting more light to enter the our retail space. For weeks I felt so happy to work in such a clean and modern (comparatively!) environment. Next came our online store and website, replacing old images and content in the great spring clean of COVID 2020. We had a hard look at what products just didn't seem as profitable as we once thought: we ceased the hiring helium DIY tanks, changed our printing price structure, sold an old van and even updated our methods for the delivery of internal information such as systems and training. None of this would have been possible without two things: time and impetus to change, COVID provided both. We will come out of this leaner and more efficient than we started, and for that I am grateful.

On a personal note... to be honest, one of the most positive things has happened to my personal life, with the newly found time in the absence of the traditional business crazy hamster wheel! LOL.

I would like to share a video that Chris recently recorded with Greg Brown at BMTV where Chris shares some helpful and essential tips and tricks to improve your business' workflow! It is definitely worth watching! 

Many of you will have 'met' Greg Brown as the presenter of BMTV, but Greg also wears another industry hat, as the Director of Total Party Ltd / Balloon Market / Signature Balloons based in Southampton, England. I asked Greg as a wholesaler to the balloon and party industry in the UK how the pandemic has affected his business and the positives he has seen:

"When COVID first hit we thought the worst, and expected sales to be 30% of what they are normally. We thought that weddings, celebrations, corporate events, summer fayres, etc being cancelled would destroy the industry. As we now know, our industry flourished as we were all able to adapt quickly. I think that is one of the great things of being an industry that is made up of mainly small businesses. We can pivot quickly. I think people learned to do new things from putting videos out there helping others to improving their own skills. We have all been forced to do things differently and, arguably, better.
From our point of view it has been a challenge and we have really not liked not being able to offer the service we are known for due to the combination of an increase in business and keeping everyone COVID safe. We truly appreciate everyone that has continued to buy from us. However we also have adapted with new shift patterns, new processes on the website, new processes in the warehouse, new ways of filming BMTV, and changes regarding who does what and when. We have also been able to look at new premises that we were looking at before COVID but bigger than we were initially considering. It is very exciting.
From the team point of view, I think it is the little things that have made a difference in a positive way:
We have taken on a lot more people including casual staff and it has been great to see people getting to know each other and forming new friendships. The ‘Teen Team’ as they are known have also brought a different energy to the warehouse.  
The jokes our customers have started to put on their orders.
Moving the office upstairs and having a better view of outside – the office is brighter!
The extra calories burned climbing the stairs 30 times a day!
The is an appreciation for working in a company that has, thankfully, been doing well during the pandemic. People have not had to worry about redundancies." 

One of Greg’s favourite sayings is “Think health, think safety”! 
Here are some of the team sporting their new hi viz jackets to keep them safe when crossing the courtyard. #besafebeseen

Saying thank you is always very important, how cool are these thank you cards that Balloon Market send out with their orders! 

It is amazing how resilient we have become over the past 10 months! Finding solutions, adapting, using new found time to update systems, websites and online offerings has been some of the most obvious and most important changes many companies have made to cope during these difficult months and probably most importantly remaining positive! I love Alberto's motto - "never stop creating, even in dark times light can be found in balloons."

A huge thank you to Alberto, Chris and Greg for giving us a little insight to a few of the positives that have come from such a turbulent year! 

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Glen LaValley shares his Festive QuickLink™ Christmas Tree Design!

"I created an easy QuickLink Christmas tree, with the Gold foil 3' topper, it came out to over 14' high by about 10' across. I hope that you enjoy making it and have a great balloony Xmas!" - Glen the Balloon Guy

I just wanted to share this fabulous QuickLink Christmas Tree that was designed and created by Glen LaValley, of Glen the Balloon Guy in Edmonton, Alberto, Canada. Glen recently shared this great design with instructions on how to make it in the Qualatex Facebook Group, and I asked Glen if I could also share his design with you today! 

To make this design you will need the following items:

  • 96 x 12" Green QuickLink balloons
  • 84 x 11" Green Round (80 fillers and a 4-balloon cluster for the top)
  • 114 x 5" or 11" Ornaments - make these into duplets (the size of the balloon you use will depend on how big you inflate the 12" QuickLinks.
Please note that this design can be made smaller by using 6" Green QuickLinks, 5" Green round balloons for the fillers, and 5" round balloons for the 'ornament' duplets.

Step 1. Using the 12" QuickLink balloons, inflate the vertical chains as shown below: 

Step 2. Using the QuickLink balloons,  inflate the horizontal chains as shown below

Step 3. Position the vertical and horizontal chains to create the tree shape. You will probably find this easier to do if you add in the 'ornament' duplets as you go to lock the design in place. 

The colours that you use and size of the duplets is your choice. 

To complete the design, make a 4-balloon cluster using the remaining 4 x 11" balloons to the same size as the filler 11" and add this to the top of the tree design. 

Finally top the tree with a 20" or 36" Gold Microfoil Star!


  • At the end of each QuickLink chain, use a Sharpie to mark the row and column number (R1, R2, C1, C2…).  This will help you keep the chains organized when you twist them together.
  • With 260Q’s, tie down the ends of the first QuickLink to the legs of the tables (if working on tables), or use weights tied to the on the ends of the chain, to stretch out the chain.  This will keep the QuickLink chains from bending inwards and help keep the pattern stable while twisting the chains together.
  • Pre-inflating, then re-inflating your balloons to the desired size will help the balloons to last longer for your sculpture.

A huge thank you to Glen for sharing his fabulous design! 

Happy Ballooning! 


Follow me @suebowler

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Be Aware of this Instagram Violation Hoax Alert

I don't usually post things like this, but someone that I know, who has a very successful Instagram account was targeted recently and it definitely caused her a very worrying few hours thinking that she might lose her account... and it could have been a lot worse if she had followed their instructions! 

We all should be very cautious when using hashtags on our Instagram accounts. As we have come to find out, using a few 'wrong' words we can cause our Instagram accounts to be permanently deleted, so if we received what looks to be a genuine message from Instagram, then we will naturally be very concerned. 

Here is what you need to look out for:

You will receive a message pretending to be from Instagram’s help centre which threatens to close your account if you don’t hand over personal information, using language like the following:

‘We’ve detected contents in your account that will violate copyright laws. Your account will be deactivated within 48 hours unless you provide feedback. As Instagram, we respect copyright and take care to protect copyrights.' This message is followed by a button that says Appeal.

It threatens that as a result, your account will be closed within 24 hours if you don’t dispute the violation by following a link.

Once you click the link, the next web page asks to you to provide your username, birth date and password to make sure it’s you. In reality, these boxes will give hackers information as you feed it Once you feed the information, the page shows a ‘bogus’ web page showing the loading animation followed by a green tick with a message:

‘Your copyright objection notice has been submitted. You will be contacted by email after 24 hours.’ 

After this, the users will be navigated to the real Instagram login page.

As soon as your data goes to the scammers, they can take over your Instagram profile and modify the information you need to recover it. From there, they can start demanding ransom to give the account back to you, or start spreading spam and all kinds of malicious content using your hijacked account….

It is easy to understand why people might believe that the message is genuine. First, the fraudulent account uses the official Instagram company logo.The tone and layout of the message make it sound formal and serious.

To defend yourself against this type of attack sequence, Instagram users should protect their accounts with a strong password and enable two-factor authentication. They should also take the extra precaution of familiarising themselves with some of the most common types of scams that plagues users on social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

This is what Instagram recommends:

Security Tips

Here are some things you can do to help keep your account safe:

Pick a strong password. Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters and punctuation marks (like ! and &). It should be different from other passwords you use elsewhere on the internet.

Change your password regularly, especially if you see a message from Instagram asking you to do so. During automated security checks, Instagram sometimes recovers login information that was stolen from other sites. If Instagram detects that your password may have been stolen, changing your password on Instagram and other sites helps to keep your account secure and prevent you from being hacked in the future.

Never give your password to someone you don't know and trust.

Turn on two-factor authentication for additional account security.

Make sure your email account is secure. Anyone who can read your email can probably also access your Instagram account. Change the passwords for all of your email accounts and make sure that no two are the same.

Log out of Instagram when you use a computer or phone you share with other people. Don't check the "Remember Me" box when logging in from a public computer, as this will keep you logged in even after you close the browser window.

Think before you authorize any third-party app.

My recommendation is if you receive any sort of violation notice on your social media accounts is firstly not to panic and definitely do not click on anything. Do a little research to see if what you have received could be a hoax, there is plenty of great information on the internet. To my knowledge, if you have breached or violated a rule, Instagram will tell you what you have done wrong and give you the opportunity to appeal through their help centre and not through a link button.

Keep those social media accounts safe and happy ballooning! 


Follow me @suebowler

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New Year's 2020 - A few Ideas for a Lockdown Party
Nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like Northstar Balloons! 

As with most of 2020, New Years Eve is going to be a little different this year, dependent of course on what country you are in, and the COVID restrictions that you have in place. However, from what I have read in the UK, restaurants and hotels are working hard to create socially distanced ways to ensure that their customers enjoy this annual festivity, even if it is a little different from the usual celebrations! 

It is a certainty that people will want to celebrate the end of this turbulent year, even if they plan to stay at home.  This means that decor will play a very important role in the occasion. Let's face it, it wouldn't be New Year's Eve without a glittery decoration or two! Adding the festive touch with fabulous 2021 balloons and balloon decor is an absolute must! Not only will balloons add a sense of fun and excitement, they will also be a perfect backdrop for those New Year's Eve pics!

Here are a few design ideas and products that you can offer to your customers!
Gold Bottle Design
 by Sue Bowler

"Let the Bubbles Flow" with this creative design using the Qualatex™ Golden Bubbly Wine Bottle and Gold Confetti Dots Decor Bubble - complimented with Chrome Gold Balloons!

Don't forget that both the bottle and Bubble Balloons are perfect for personalising, which will add greater value to the design.

Tinsel Fringe Curtains with Organic Garlands

These "curtains" of tinsel totally transform a wall. Even better, adding an organic balloon garland and takes it to a whole new level! It makes the perfect New Years Eve photo backdrop!
Elegant New Years Centrepiece
by Sue Bowler

How about an elegant centrepiece design? Adding beautiful paper fans in a centrepiece really compliments the "New Year Black & Gold Fans" Microfoil™ balloon. 

Is it really New Year's without the obligatory hats and headbands? These beautiful hairbands were created by Cam Woody and Eve Antonello. These were part of their Happy Hour class when they showed a range of designs using the Qualatex Animal print balloons, but they work really well for New Year's too, as do the other designs featured in the video below!
Beautiful Balloon Hairbands by Eve Antonello and Cam Woody

Hello 2020 New Year Party Arch

Wave goodbye to 2020 and say "Hello" to a New Year with this simple yet show-stopping party arch! QuickLink™ balloons make this arch quick to construct while creating elegant decor for any New Year's Eve party! Whether celebrating at home or in a large venue, you can adapt the size to suit your occasion. They are so great for photo opportunities, or to frame a buffet table or dance floor. Get ready to party the night away with balloons!

Designer name: Louise Hedges, CBA, Pioneer® Europe Ltd, UK

Helium-Filled Ceiling Balloons

Make New Years Eve even more special with a ceiling filled with beautiful latex balloons - make sure to tell your customers not to release them!

And finally, bring a little sparkle to the party with beautiful Confetti-Filled Balloons! Learn how to make these confetti-filled Deco Bubbles with Tina Giunta of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Australia. 

There will definitely be a demand for New Year's decor and Party Accessories this year! Make sure that you show your customers all the fabulous products and decor ideas that you have... early marketing will be essential to capture those sales, we don't want them going to one of the big online companies when we can offer them something better! 

Happy Ballooning! 

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