Saturday, April 21, 2018

Did You Know that There Are Elves At The World Balloon Convention?

There are so many "Wow!" moments at WBC, and of course, one of those is the incredible decor designed by a line-up of extremely talented balloon artists from around the world! WBC 2018 was no exception, and I can honestly say that there were many "Wow!" moments.

Welcome Event Decor
Designer Stuart Davies, CBA.
Photograph by Nicci Rene.

I would like to start by acknowledging the designers who created all the fabulous decor.
Lobby Decor Designer - Lily Tan, Singapore.
Welcome Event Decor Designer - Stuart Davies, CBA, UK.
Costume Party Event Decor Designer -Federico Onida, CBA, Italy.
Grand Gala Event Decor Designer - Olga Baranova, CBA, Russia.
Grand Gala After Party Event Decor Designer - Chris Adamo, CBA, Australia.

You might be surprised to learn that this post is not about the designers. It is about the amazing crew of people who tirelessly work to make sure that each of the designer's dreams are realised, and that the decor looks as fabulous as it should.

As I have mentioned before, there are many reasons why people attend WBC, and one of those is to be part of the awesome production team — for me, the "Elves of WBC!"  One of my favourite childhood books was a very old story called, "The Elves and the Shoemaker." This story is about a poor shoemaker who receives much-needed help from elves, hence the reason I have given this wonderful group of people the name "elves"! 

The Production Crew Team. 

First-Time WBC Production Crew Members:

Sara and Mike Harris, both CBAs of For Every Occasion in Rhyl, UK., have attended every WBC in varying capacities: as delegates, competitors, and also as a sponsor. This would be the first time that they worked as part of the production crew.

Mike Harris, CBA.
The production crew are all unsung heroes, the elves of WBC who make dreams reality. Do you agree with that statement? 
"Absolutely, 100%. I knew from the other events I had attended that the amazing event decor had to be built, but until this year, I did not realise who did it or how much hard work was involved. Most days started for the team at either 7 or 7:30 a.m. and would go on until up to midnight. One day we worked until 3:00 a.m. 
It was great to work as part of this fantastic team who all have their own strengths and specialities. They accepted us straight into the team from day one, and I know I have made some great friends for life," Sara added "I always knew these ‘elves’ worked hard, but can honestly say I really had no idea just how hard! The hours they put in are immense."

Sara Harris, CBA.

What do you think you gained from being part of the crew?

"Apart from a great bunch of new friends, I think the experience of working as part of a large crew on gigantic projects. It was also reassuring to see that other artists work in the same way that we do on projects. Not only from a design point of view, but also the way the team worked on the designs." Sara also felt that they gained more experience working on big decor.

What were your WBC 2018 highlights?
"Working with a hard-working, great fun team. Seeing each of the designs come to life and the final night awards dinner when we knew we had finished and could finally relax." For Sara, "I loved the beach party, but my highlight was the welcome decor - absolutely loved it!"

Was there anything that you did not enjoy about your role?  "There was nothing that we did not enjoy. It is hard work, long hours, but very rewarding to see the results. In conclusion, WBC 2018 was a whirlwind of thousands of balloons, more than I have ever worked with on one project. We worked hard. We didn’t have time to play hard, but we made some great friends for life. I only hope we get to do it all again sometime in the future. I would like to say a big thank you to LaDonna Belcher and her team for welcoming us in, and trusting us as part of this first-class crew." 

Barry Revell, CBA, of Lightitup Balloons in Perth, Australia, also joined the production crew for the first time this year.

Barry Revell, CBA.
Barry's first WBC was in 2016 in New Orleans, and although a delegate, he found himself volunteering to help the production crew with inflating balloons and knew that this would be the perfect WBC role for him.

The production crew are all unsung heroes, the elves of WBC who make dreams reality. Do you agree with that statement?  
"100%, yes! Without the production crews help, it would be so hard for the designers to achieve their designs and the mass numbers of balloons that the decor requires."

What do you think that you gained from being part of the crew? 
"I learned many new skills from working on the large scale decor projects. I also enjoyed working together with others crew members. It was great that we were able to combine our skills. I also gained many more balloon artist friends from around the world."

What were your WBC 2018 highlights?
"There were many highlights. Seeing how the designers became overcome with emotion once their event decor had been turned from a design on paper into reality. Also, working alongside nineteen other amazing and talented balloon artists."

What did you least enjoy about your role? "That the whole experience finished too quickly."

LaDonna Belcher, CBA with Barry Revell and
Olga Samoilova, CBA.

This year's fabulous production team members were:
Greg Arrigoni, Garrett Gruberman, Mark Toomey, Sue Boone, Ines Lambert, Cheryl Skoric, Alexandra Ventura, Bonnie Fisher, Lisa Talip, Chase Nelson, Evan Nelson, Tara Silva, Debi Leidel, Cindy Rasmusson, Ray Wilson, Mike Harris, Sara Harris, Barry Revell, Sandy Pressley, Fathi Boheme, and JR (Huvaldo) Magnia. 
This amazing team was led by the fabulous LaDonna Belcher, CBA, who was awarded the Golden Light Award at this years WBC in honour of the wonderful late Linda Bruce. LaDonna had this to say about her team. "They work with a pure heart as if each event was their very own, and we are all in one accord to help the designer achieve their dream."  

A huge thank you to Mike, Sara, and Barry for sharing their WBC first-time experience working on the production crew team!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Would You Consider Entering A Competition At The World Balloon Convention — First Time Competitors Connie Iden-Monds and Samuel Stamp - Dod, CBA, Share Their Amazing Journeys

Being a first-timer at anything can be pretty exciting, challenging, and sometimes very daunting!
I thought that it would be really interesting to hear from several of our World Balloon Convention first-timers in their WBC roles! 

There are many different reasons why someone attends WBC, many as delegates, some as instructors and, of course, we have competitors. There are also the wonderful production team, the education staff, plus many other amazing people behind the scenes who make WBC the fabulous event that it is. In this first post, have focused on first-time WBC competitors, Connie Iden-Monds and Samuel Stamp-Dod.

Connie Iden-Monds, CBA, with her fabulous Team U.S.A.Design Leads: Connie Iden-Monds, Jack Mattson, Scott Nichols
Team: Chris Fuentes, Kelly Cheatle, Larry Moss, Elizabeth Nichols, Stacy Wheeler
Teri Stokes, Shonna Flanigan, Jenny Henry, Darren Saari, Anthony Lena, Randall Carter
and Barbara Carter.

First-Time WBC Competitors

I am really passionate about competitions and all the amazing balloon art that competitors create. As a former competitor myself, I appreciate all the many hours, days, weeks, and even months of work that can go into creating competition-standard designs. At WBC, we have a fabulous competition team coordinated by Dale Moore who ensures that the competitions run smoothly and that competitors are given the support that they require. Did you know that competitors have twenty-seven hours to build their large sculptures with their teams? It's not easy to work twenty-seven hours straight — I remember it well! 

Connie Iden-Monds

Although Connie Iden-Monds of Party Animals in Nashville, Tennesse, USA, has attended all the World Balloon Conventions to date,  this was the first time that she had competed. 

Connie told me that deciding to compete was pretty last minute. A friend had encouraged and cajoled her, stating that the U.S. needed representation. So from that point, it became all-hands-on-deck!
"There were key decisions made to bring specific talents to the team to make sure we could execute something that was presentable and respectable for this level of competition. There were so many times that I thought it would be easy to quit. I don't think that the sculpture would have happened if it weren’t for each member of the team bringing their magic to the sculpture,
"  Connie said.

Anthony Lena

I asked Connie how she found the experience.
"Honestly, it was exhilarating and grueling at the same time. There was such magic and chemistry with this team that it really pushed me to stay up the 21 hours that it took to complete it. We planned so well that we were done 6 hours prior to end time."

Would you compete again? "Perhaps. If I could do it with this same team with a subject that I was as passionate about (as I am a Disney fanatic), I would certainly do this again."

What would you do differently in terms of preparation? "I would identify the team a bit sooner. We had lots of talent that joined late in the process. I can only imagine how much more incredible it would have been to have their inputs sooner. Additionally, it is extremely difficult to get a strong US team together to practice for things like this and it’s an important part of the planning, so we’d have to budget for thing like that."

How will you use this experience in your business? "I already apply some of the technology that we used in the piece in my work today. The real beauty of this competition was the strong bond of friendship we have from the experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to call any of them in for a big job. In fact, I’m already looking at opportunities for that! "

Have you used your experience to promote your business?
 "Indeed I have. I also made a template for the team to use for their local press. I am most excited though that CBS Sunday Morning was following us throughout the process and looking forward to their viewpoint of our craft, industry, and competition win."

 " Poor Unfortunate Souls"
3rd place winner: Connie Iden-Monds
Design Leads: Connie Iden-Monds, Jack Mattson, and Scott Nichols
Team: Chris Fuentes, Kelly Cheatle, Larry Moss, Elizabeth Nichols, Stacy Wheeler,
Teri Stokes, Shonna Flanigan, Jenny Henry, Darren Saari, Anthony Lena, Randall Carter
and Barbara Carter

Here are the first and second place winners in the large sculpture category.

1st place winner: Kun Lung Ho from Taiwan. 

2nd place, Vadim Shushkanov, CBA, from the Russian Federation. 

For Samuel Stamp- Dod, CBA, of VIP Balloons in Ipswich, U.K., this was his first WBC.

Samuel Stamp-Dod

"Although I started working in the balloon world in the late 1990s, I didn’t go full time until four years ago. This is when I first became aware of the convention. In 2016 I watched my friends and colleagues post their pictures and stories of the event and decided there and then that I was going to attend WBC 2018."

Mike Hurst, CBA.

Why did you decide to compete this time?
"I spoke with Mike Hurst of Reds, in Brackley, about his time at WBC 2016 and he had two regrets: firstly, he didn’t see enough of the city and secondly, he wished he had entered the competitions. Learning from this I decided that I would enter as many competitions as I could, and secondly, add a few extra days on my trip to see the sights.
In the past, I have competed in balloon competitions and have always learned from others competing as well as stretching myself.  For me, the biggest reason for entering competitions is the publicity that I can get after the event.  Local papers and radio stations are always looking out for good news stories and winning any award is great for them – and in turn, great for me and my business."

Lucy Henessey, CBA.
 How much time did you spend preparing for your competitions prior to arriving in San Diego?
"I was a Boy Scout and was taught to ‘be prepared.'  I booked my space at WBC and entered the competitions on first day available, having looked through all the options available to me.
I then proceeded to work out where my areas of strengths were and come up with some designs.
I entered the maximum of four competitions: two with Mike (Picture Frame and Column), one on my own (Table Centrepiece), and one as a team (Medium Sculpture).  Mike and I met to discuss our two entries, each taking the lead for one of them.  We then looked to form a team with three others for the Medium Sculpture.  We joined with Debbie O'Neil from Wow Balloons in Benfleet, Lucy Hennessey from Balloon Power in Leigh-on-Sea, and Alison Galley from Celebration Balloons of Rothwell.  We spoke online several times before having just one meeting face to face.  In retrospect, I think we should have started much earlier on with this design, but we live and learn!"

Debbie O'Neil, CBA.

How was your experience competing?
"I loved it!  It was very hard work, but so worth it.  We started the Medium Sculpture after taking an eleven-hour flight, changing time zones, and getting barely any sleep, which certainly added to the difficulty.  Despite the lack of time together before we arrived in San Diego, the team worked really well together, each taking sections of the design to build.  We got about six hours into the twelve-hour build and tiredness started to set in, tempers shortened, and fortunately for us, Mike Harris of For Every Occasion in Rhyl (a former competition winner at WBC) came and advised us all to take a break away from the competition room, which we did.
A few hours later the design was completed within time, and despite being completely shattered, we were all very proud of what we had created.  Later in the week, we were rewarded with a Bronze award for the design – very happy!
The following day saw my second competition, the Picture Frame.  Mike and I had worked on creating something similar in the summer of 2017, so we knew the design well and worked together as a well-oiled team.  We were very proud of what we created, but disappointed that the entry wasn’t given an award.
The next day saw the entry for the Column.  This was a design that Mike had come up with based on the Russia World Cup logo.  The design had classic Column elements within the design, which we knew to get the points needed to be spot on.  Sizing was critical to the design, and so this is what we focused on.  This obviously paid off as we picked up our second bronze award of the week.
The same day that we had the Column to build I also had my centrepiece to submit.  By this time my fingers were sore, I was tired, and my spirits were falling.  The entry that I felt would have been the easiest, turned out to be the most difficult.  My foil balloon burst and after inflating my only spare, this leaked.  The design had failed on me, and I had no time to make repairs.  I felt disappointed in myself and, quite rightly, the design wasn’t awarded anything."

Would you compete again at future events?
"Yes!!  I have learned from my experience that competing has its ups and downs, but overall, I loved it."

What would you do differently in terms of preparation?
"If I was to work with a team again, I would call for a face to face meeting much sooner than we did.  I would urge one person to take the lead with the design so decisions could be made easier and I wouldn’t enter four!"

"Finding Dory" Medium Balloon Sculpture
Samuel Stamp-Dod
Mike Hurst, Lucy Hennessey, Debbie O'Neil and Allison Galley.
How will you use this experience in your business?
"Since shouting about WBC 2018 in the press and online, I gained about one hundred more followers on my social media pages in just a week, more visits to my website, and more enquiries for work. The photos of both my work, the showcase designs, other competition pieces, and work from classes have all been used to show potential customers what can be created with balloons.  I have already made use of several of the designs within the huge handbook, which each delegate gets as part of their goody bag, and plan to use many more of theses designs with clients later on this year."

Have you used your experience to promote your business?
"Yes. I had already been on the local radio a couple of times before leaving the U.K. sharing my story with them and as soon as I got back, I was invited back to tell them more.
I sent out a press release a week after returning and within a day I had already had front page exposure in my local paper, further reports within the papers, local magazines, websites, and in the trade press."


I love both of these stories. Entering competitions can become a life-changing experience, and building relationships with fellow balloon artists can last long after the convention ends. To enter a competition takes a great deal of work and effort, and in some cases many, months of preparation and a lot of "blood, sweat and tears" at the event, but they are definitely worth it! I urge anyone attending a convention such as the World Balloon Convention to enter a competition or help someone with theirs. You will certainly add a whole new dimension to your convention experience — and maybe win an award, too! 

I have more fabulous WBC first-time stories to share with you. I will be posting these very soon!

A huge thank you to both Connie and Samuel for sharing their amazing journeys!

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Tips for Promoting Your Business, WBC, and the Balloon Industry.

Writing and releasing a press release can help your business gain valuable PR. But before you put pen to paper, ask yourself, "Is this story newsworthy?"

Anyone who has recently returned from the World Balloon Convention 2018 has the perfect newsworthy story and the opportunity to promote your business!

Here are some tips on promoting balloons in your community and promoting your business through your WBC experience.

1. As soon as possible, write up a press release. Most journalists get hundreds of press releases each week — many of which don’t even get opened. It’s a good idea to label the subject header of your email with the phrase "press release" or "story idea."
Here are some ideas on what could be included in your press release:
  • A catchy, attention-grabbing headline
  • Who attended from your business
  • What WBC is and why you went
  • Where WBC was
  • Specifics about the success of the convention;
    • How many delegates 
    • How many countries were represented at the convention 
    • How many days you attended
    • National media exposure from this newspaper and that TV network
  • Highlights from your WBC experience, including new product finds, new ideas, your competition results, or your volunteer experiences
  • A quote describing your WBC experience, and/or what you plan to do with your newfound knowledge
  • Conclude with a paragraph listing your balloon business specialties, location, and contact information
2. Include a photo taken at the convention and a written caption describing what is happening in the photo. Make sure that you credit the balloon work shown in the photo. If you worked on decor or helped with a sculpture, include that too. Don't send photos as large files; they will ask you for a higher resolution if they need it.

3. Generally, you should send a press release by email. It's wise to make your subject line attention-grabbing. Any press release sent by email should be pasted into the email rather than sent as an attachment — you email may be flagged as spam, otherwise.

Journalists receive a lot of emails, so you may want to follow up with a call to check they've seen it. Make it your mission to find out the name and email address of the person who will be able to make a decision about whether or not to run your story. 

A good press release should take a factual tone and be short and concise, giving the journalist the essence of the story. They will get in touch if they want more information.

Here is a sample press release:

For Immediate Release
April xx, 2018
For more information: Sue Bowler -

BalloonArt by Sue Bowler attends World's largest Balloon Convention

Sue Bowler, CBA, of BalloonArt by Sue Bowler in Henley-on-Thames, UK, attended the World Balloon Convention (WBC) in San Diego, California, last month.
Nearly 900 balloon professionals from 52 countries attended the convention where design, product, and business classes were taught and incredible balloon competitions took place in nine different categories from large sculpture to balloon fashion.

" This was an amazing opportunity to not only learn exciting new techniques and design ideas but to also work alongside some of the best balloon artists in the world. I had the opportunity to work on some of the most stunning and elaborate event parties".

" I can't wait to apply all the new skills that I learned at WBC to my decorating jobs and to my business. I know that my clients will as excited as I am when they see my new design ideas and some fabulous new techniques that I will be introducing over the next few months" Sue said.

BalloonArt by Sue Bowler has been in business since 1990, offering balloons along with other party supplies and gifts, balloon decor, and balloon deliveries. BalloonArt by Sue Bowler is located in Peppard Common, Henley-On-Thames, and can be reached at xxx-xxxx or by visiting

Photo Enclosed - 
Sue Bowler of BalloonArt by Sue Bowler in Henley-On-Thames, Oxon, recently attended the World Balloon Convention in San Diego, CA. She is pictured here with a beautiful balloon and flower wedding Arch.

Extra tips for gaining year-round media exposure:

  • Develop a list of media contacts. Ensure that you have the correct contact names and correct spellings, and for newspapers, find out their deadlines.
  • Send press releases regularly on your big events, awards that you've won, workshops you've attended, or unique sculptures that you have been commissioned to create. Always include a good photo to illustrate the power of balloons.
  • Tie-in press releases to holidays or special commemorative days, if possible.
  • Donate impressive work for community events and invite the media! 
Here are some WBC 2018 facts:

  • WBC 2018, held March 14-17 in San Diego, CA, USA.
  • Hosted by Pioneer® Balloon Company, the event showcased balloon artists and balloon creations from all over the world, with delegates representing 52 countries. 
  • In addition to the top-notch educational curriculum—which featured 55 classes taught by 33 of the industry’s most respected professionals—other activities included nine competitions with 157 entries, a Vendor Showcase, two Deco-Twisting Jams, and a CBA® Exam that resulted in 25 proud new Certified Balloon Artists. Finally, WBC 2018 was also host to 100 children from the Greater San Diego Boys and Girls Club for an hour of balloon entertainment and a personalized tour through the sculpture gallery.  
  • World Balloon Convention Media Coverage: Total Impressions: 859,050
    • Fox 5 San Diego
    • KSON 103.7
    • NBC 7 San Diego
    • The CW San Diego
    • CBS 8 San Diego
Check out these great press releases: Kyrstin Stewart of Stewarts Baskets and Balloons in Alliston, Toronto, Canada, and Samuel Stamp-Dod, CBA, of VIP Balloons in Ipswich, U.K., and their WBC 2018 successes!

Wishing you every success with your press releases!

Happy Ballooning! 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Oh Baby Baby! Fabulous Ideas for Baby Showers and All Things Baby!

There is nothing quite as exciting as the impending arrival of a new baby for both the parents and families alike. A new baby opens the door of opportunities for balloon businesses, starting with baby showers. These have been popular in the US for a number of years, but are a growing trend in other countries, too. Decor for baby showers can have a theme, especially if the gender of the baby is already known. 

Decor by Sue Bowler, CBA

Baby Shower Moon & Stars

I love the "Baby Moon and Stars", and the "Baby Dots" range. Both are simply perfect for creating beautiful decor for baby showers, newborns, and for first birthday's too! 

Baby Girl Dots

Last year, I had the honour to decorate a baby shower for Becca Gaines of Pioneer Balloon Company. This was my first baby shower and I wanted the decor to be fun but elegant, too! 

Choosing a range of balloons to work with helped me to select my colour palette and other balloons to complement the decor that I had designed.

Decor by Sue Bowler, CBA

For the decor, I chose to make two main focal designs: a balloon wall and a small table Arch that sat over the "treats" table. The balloon wall set the scene in the room. It made the perfect backdrop, great for photo opportunities, and it really helped to bring together all the other decor. The table Arch framed the treat table perfectly.

The lovely Becca Gaines
Decor by Sue Bowler, 

Design by Nir and Avital Schechter

It’s going to be a royal year in the U.K. this year, starting with the impending arrival of a new Royal baby in April! Anything to do with the Royal family creates a fabulous marketing opportunity. I hope that retailers don’t miss out and build this and the other Royal events into their seasonal marketing - I am looking forward to seeing some fabulous window displays! 

Design by Nir and Avital Schechter

Design by
Nir and Avital Schechter
Nir and Avital Schechter, CBA’s, of Baloney Nir in Katzrin, Israel, have the magic touch when it comes to baby designs, and have created some truly fabulous decor that would be perfect for any baby Prince or Princess!  

Design by
Nir and Avital Schechter

Design by Dante Longhi

Here are a few more of my favourite baby decor designs. The new Baby Footprints Deco Bubble is such a fabulous balloon. It can be enhanced by adding a message balloon inside or by personalising with vinyl lettering. Dante Longhi, CBA, of Dream Factory Decor in New Jersey, USA, uses a fabulous weave technique to create a stylish column. He re-enforces the "Baby Footprints" by adding cut-out footprints to his design. 

To learn how to create this weave, watch the "How to Make A Sweet Baby Balloon Centrepiece" video clip below.

Design by Tina Giunta

Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Australia, creates this fabulous Welcome Baby arrangement and uses twisted 160Q balloons to spell “BABY” - so simple but so effective. I love it! Below is another of Tina’s adorable creations. I love her use of balloons and textures in this design.

Design by Tina Giunta
Marketing Tips

Plan your Instagram baby campaign. There are some fabulous photographs available on the Qualatex®  website (including all these featured in this post). QBN members can log in to download hi-resolution photographs, perfect for your website and other marketing opportunities.

Plan your window display. Any time is good for a baby window display. However, April might be a good month to create an eye-catching Royal baby theme display. Statistically, more babies are born in September than any other month of the year (work that one out), so again this is always a good month for a baby display.

Update your website. When was the last time you made changes to or updated your website? Google and other search engines are stimulated by changes and therefore website activity is always good.

And, QBN members, don't forget to download this fantastic poster! 

And check out this trending post - 130 Million Opportunities to Grow Your Business Each Year - packed with some great baby information, gender reveal parties, and some fabulous tips from Nir and Avital Schechter.

Happy Ballooning!