Author Topic: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan  (Read 7888 times)

Graham Lee

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Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« on: October 27, 2008, 09:01:42 PM »
I met Shonna at one of the first Millennium jams & we seemed to hit it off together straight away. She's a very nice lady even though she has a few annoying habits  :D & has a very talented twisting son, Dustin.
I was hoping to chat with Shonna next week at TMJ about how she makes the un-inflated balloon dresses but she may not be able to make it due to a member of her family falling of there stilts & breaking a few bones. Here's hoping things work out for them.
Just sorting out a date for the interview which will probably have to be when we get back from TMJ so around the second week of November.
To see some of Shonna's creations you can have a look at the portfolio page;

http://simplyshonna.balloonhq.com/

or their website pages;

http://adventureinfun.com/

Shonna has a DVD out on the Sempertex odd shapes called B.O.S.S ***

*** I'm pretty sure thats the title although I've misplaced mine at the moment , when I find it I'll give you an update.

Quick update B.O.S.S stands for Bold Outstanding Specialty Shapes
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 12:10:30 PM by Graham Lee »
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Graham Lee

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, TBA
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2009, 12:10:01 PM »
Have been in touch with Shonna & we have got a date finalized for her balloon chat interview which will be 19/25th Jan

Graham Lee
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
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Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 10:08:46 PM »
First, I would like to apologize for not responding sooner with this interview.   My husband and I have been celebrating our 21st wedding Anniversary which is today Tuesday January 20.
For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to share a little about myself and my family Company.   In 2004 I started an Entertainment company Adventure In Fun in Gettysburg, PA.  My three children, Dustin--14; Alayna-- 13; and Alysa—8 at that time, all started helping me.   In the beginning we only offered balloon twisting, face painting, and educational magic, but now we are a full-time full service entertainment company.  We spend a lot of time going to conventions to learn more from other talented entertainers.   TMJ 04 was my first introduction to the world of entertainment and balloons.   Since then we have all learned and improved our skills.  TMJ 04 was the best thing that could have helped my business
For now I am just going to answer the questions Graham sent me, but please feel free to ask me anything else pertaining to balloons.

1. What road led you into balloon modelling?
I first started “playing with balloons when I was 19 years old.    My mother owned a costume shop which carried some general supplies for entertainers including basic magic tricks, balloons, and face paints.  One day when the shop wasn’t busy, I picked up one of the books by Ralph Dewey that we carried and decided to try and make a few.  Before that I had already started doing balloon deliveries.  I quit doing balloons for a short time from 1990 when Dustin was born to 1997 when Dustin told his school that I was a magician and a balloon maker.
2. When did you get started with balloons?
I started doing balloons full-time in 2004 when my husband quit his job and told me it was my turn to support our family. I had actually started earlier though in 1985 when I started doing costumed balloon deliveries.  It was a blast to dress up and perform for people since normally I was very shy.
3. What is your best twisting experience?
My best twisting experience was while working in Shanghai China in 2007.  All of the people over there were so happy with anything we made and were very friendly and kind to us.   Another really memorable experience was while doing balloons for children in the orphanages in Bosnia.

4. What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during a ballooning/entertaining session?
 I was doing an educational show in Sembach, Germany and I hadn’t judged the stage properly.   The space I had to perform in was smaller than usual.  I was doing by skit with my balloon bike talking about accidents happening when I fell of the stage and hurt my back.   Even though I was in extreme pain, I continued the show and did two more for the day.   As soon as I was done, I went right to the emergency room and found out I had slipped a disc.  I still had two more shows to do the next day so they gave me lots of pain medication.   My husband had to drive 6 hours to come help me since I couldn’t drive while medicated.   Because I was so foggy from the drugs, I started to cry when I talked about accidents.  It was really embarrassing…..
5. What do you most enjoy about twisting & why?  
I most enjoy coming up with new ideas and getting to met new people.   I love traveling and getting to see different parts of the world.   I never thought that just “playing with balloons” would bring me so much success and allow me to travel more than my husband's past career.I will try up-loading some photos very soon.[attachment=0:2y67cp72]ice for Balloon Chat.jpg[/attachment:2y67cp72]
« Last Edit: January 21, 2009, 03:04:09 AM by Simply Shonna »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2009, 12:39:34 AM »
One of the best things about un-inflated dresses is they can be washed and worn again and again....[attachment=1:204w0uao]n511760028_5476927_8894.jpg[/attachment:204w0uao]
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2009, 01:03:15 AM »
I am really not good at this computer stuff!  I keep trying to add more photos to the previous posts, but I can't quite do it...
I am glad that balloons are easier to work with than computers!LOL

My Fire and Ice dresses have gotten a lot of use.   They were both first made for Alayna and her friend just to wear to the Fashion Show at Balloon Camp.   Later they were featured in the Fashion Show in Shanghai produced by Guido Verhoef.   Alayna then brought them to TMJ 08 for people to see how they were made at Graham's request.
Their last use was in Orlando for a Face and Body Painting Convention in Orlando, Florida.   Now I am retiring them for awhile.   I have a lot of new dresses I want to show, but I am waiting for the proper venue.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2009, 01:17:23 AM »
These are the dresses I made while there in Orlando.  I am not very good with inflated weaving.   When asked about one of my worst twisting experiences, I should have told about making Alysa's dress.

For some reason my figure nails kept splitting at this convention and by the time I started on Alysa's dress, I had a handfull of split ragged nails.   I kept popping the dress as I was making it.   I felt like quitting and just crying, but I needed to make Alysa a dress to wear.   Now I need to make her a new dress to make up for the mess I made of this one!LOL.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2009, 01:34:03 AM »
The first dress I made was for the Fashion Show in Shanghai produced by Paul Bellanger.   I really wasn't prepared to do it and didn't want to make one, but I think it turned out pretty good.  My original plan was to bring it home for Alayna as a present, but the Chinese government wanted to keep it.  At least it got me a TV interview....
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2009, 02:34:18 AM »
My second dress making experience was with "Just Marie" Dadow in Miami, Florida for the Sabado Gigante show.   Dustin and Alayna went with us.   It was a sur-real experience being on TV and being treated so well while we were there.  I would have to count that as one of my "top ten" balloon experiences.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2009, 05:00:12 AM »
6. What is your favourite age to entertain?
If I am making balloon sculptures, my favorite age is 8 and older because they can appreciate the different things I am making and have more patience.   When I am doing a show, I like the kids to be between 3 and 12 because the say the funniest things that make me laugh.  

7. Do you have the same act but vary the presentation for all ages or do you have set acts for different ages?
I have different acts for different ages and themes.   I do not like to do the same thing at parties because usually I have already been seen by the same children just a couple of weeks prior.   I like to change what I do all the time.   I mean my same “simple” style is there, but I try to only make balloons that match the theme of the party I am doing and only make each balloon once.  That is why it is important to be able to make a butterfly, or any design, several ways.  :)   I also change my magic tricks if possible.   I don’t want the kids to get tired or bored of seeing the same thing.
8. What is your favourite thing to make at the moment?
I love to make balloons out of specialty shape balloons.  You can do the coolest designs really quick and since they are larger balloons, they tend to last longer.   I love to go to parties and hear the parents say that their children still have my balloon from 3 weeks ago and it still looks good.   Betallatex/Sepertex, is a great balloon.
9. What is the most asked for model?
That really depends on the theme of the party.   In all honesty I try not to repeat the same balloon at any event unless I am doing line work.   If I am doing line work, I would have to say kids ask for a flower or sword the most.   Once they see the specialty shape designs though, they start asking for only those.
10. What do you tend to do more of if stuck in the 'balloon production line' model?
I make a lot of Rabbits, Bears, Mice, Dolls, Butterflies, Snails, and Aliens.   They are the designs on my DVD.   I think my DVD has been discontinued.  At least I hope it has.  I never received any compensation for them and I was told by the producer of them that he never sold any,(Strange thing is, people tell me all the time that they have my DVD and loved it.) so I now have put all my designs on a CD.   Dustin and I have worked together to make about 15 different CD’s now.  For each Specialty Shape we have included at least 10 proven and useable designs.   We have also made CD’s for different Holidays and Themes.  I would also like to suggest to any of you if you are going to make a DVD with someone, please get every thing you agree upon in a contract, even if you are really good friends with the person making it for you.  Remember marriages end all the time; the same goes for friendships.  :cry:  
11. Who is your market aimed at?
My main market is for people who want to have FUN!  I prefer to do High End Birthday Parties were I only need to make 5 to 10 balloons per hour.   Actually right now we are aiming for promotional work and corporate work.  I will always want to do parties and school shows though because kids are truthful and funny.   If you suck they tell you, if they like you they tell you.   If you get an applause, you know it is real and you have done your job.  :D  Chilren are the most precious gifts there are.  I hope I always am fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speed time with children, mine and others. ;)
12. What kind of work do you do mostly - parties? Corporate? Etc
Currently we do a lot of corporate parties or Promotional Events.   Birthdays are big for us too.  I do not feel like I am good at marketing, so I just take what comes and I am happy when something big lands at my feet.   I need to learn how to market us better.  One day I hope to be doing shows with my whole family.  Most of you don't know my husband, but he is really funny.  When we get a show together, I will be the straight guy and he will the funny one.   I really want to be able to perform with my children.  I want to keep them as close to me as possible for as long as I can. ;)
13. What is your favourite/ideal gig to do?
I would love to be asked to make dresses for my own fashion show.   I am beginning to get the hang of the inflated dresses.  (Never try to make them with split nails!)  I also like using balloons like fabric.  Being part of the different Fashion Shows has been a real pleasure and blessing.  I feel very honored to have been able to work along side artist like Debbie Stevens, Sofie VanDewyer, Just Marie, Colin, Rie, Ken Stillman, Micha DeHan, and my own son Dustin on different projects.  The friendships I have gained from these experiences has been priceless. ;)
14. What irritates you most at a gig?
I hate when wealthy people treat us like we are servants and less than them.   I know that a lot of the people I work for are millionaires, but I don’t believe that just because a person has money he has the right to treat people poorly.   I can’t stand mothers who try to insist I give their child a second balloon or that I stay to do “just one more”.   I would rather never go back to some of these clients than pamper and spoil there child more.  RUDE is RUDE no matter how much money someone has. :x
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Professor T Wist

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2009, 09:33:28 PM »
Hi, hope you had a good wedding anniversary.

My question is who would yoummost like to make a balloon model, or dress for and why? What would yu make them ?
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Thelma Levett

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 10:29:38 PM »
Hi Shonna
Thank you for taking the time to give such detailed answers to the questions.  It has been very nice to read everything and to see your creations.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2009, 03:11:17 AM »
Hi Professor Twist,

Actually, I have been thinking it would be very cool to make a balloon caricature of the Obama girls, Sasha and Malia.  Ever since Obama won, the little girls at my restaurants ask me to make them Sasha and Malia Princesses, so it just became a thought that it would be cool to make a balloon for them.  If it could be a dress, that would be even better. :D

Also, Just Marie and I are working on another idea which is more likely to happen.  I don't really care much about movie stars or famous people, except they get you noticed.  What we would really like to do is a fashion show to promote Breast Cancer Awareness.  We would like to make lots of different "Pink" dresses and "Wow" wouldn't it be great to get some celebrities to model them?  I would be happy though just having survivors wearing them.   Right now I have pitched the idea to a few women who give a lot to charities for tax deductions.   I am hoping one of them will like my idea and help us out.  It is probably just a pipe dream, but what are we without our dreams??? ;)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2009, 05:11:15 AM »
Hi Thelma,
Thanks for the compliment on my interview.   I am really nervous being here.   I hadn't really visited Balloon Chat before, so I didn't know what to expect.   When I saw the list of names that had been interviewed before me, I was really scared to do this.  I can't believe that Graham would think that highly of me. :? Maybe I will have to stop calling him Richard. :P

Also, I just wanted to tell you how much I always enjoy seeing you at TMJ when I get to go.  You are amazingly fun and funny, not to mention creative and talented.   I loved your bikini at TMJ 07, especially when Bibo wore it.  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:   I still laugh every time I think about it. ;)
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Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2009, 05:20:50 AM »
13. What is your favourite/ideal gig to do?
Actually what I like best to do with balloons is go to places where kids don’t usually get a chance to get great balloons.  I know that some people don’t like the idea of others volunteering their time because they think it is taking a paying job from them but I really don’t think that a lot of the people I make balloons for would ever be able to pay for what I do.   I started doing balloons because I love to make children happy and see people smile.   Sometimes after I have been around a lot of bratty kids, I just want to see kids that really do appreciate someone just being nice to them and getting the chance to get their face painted or see a magic trick.   The pressure to “earn my pay” is gone and I just get to be “Simply Shonna” and remember why I really love my job.  :D  
Okay, I love the jobs like Dustin and I are doing tomorrow also.  :P  We will have 2 hours each to make balloons for about a total of 25 kids.  They only expect us to make one balloon per child, so that will allow us 10 to 15 minutes per design.   That is nice.  We can actually create and come up with ideas on the spot.  The parents are paying our top rate and they will most likely ignore us and leave their children and nannies with us until the end when they pay us and tell us how great we are.   I hope that they will take the time to look at the presentation Dustin and I are putting together on balloon dresses and costumes because they are the ones who give tens of thousands away at one time for charity.   I keep praying that one day, one of them just really thinks we are the bomb and does sponsor a big project for us….again, it doesn’t hurt to dream.
;)

14. What irritates you most at a gig?
One of the things that irritates me the most is when I am in a line-work situation and an employee comes up and tells me what balloons they would like me to make them in my spare time.   “What spare time, @#$, I have a long line.”   Okay I don’t answer like that, but I think it. ;)  
Also it bothers me at parties when most the parents are complimentary but you get that one who can’t stop themselves from complaining about how long it takes to get a balloon. :roll:
Or there is the parent who waits until you have closed your line(que) off and comes up at the end and says they had been waiting all day until you weren’t busy and there wasn’t a line.  “Ah, yeah dummy, there isn’t a line because I am finished for the day!”
:x
15. How do you book yourself?
I pray for the phone to ring.  ;)   I stare at it all day wishing and thinking happy thoughts, you know like the secret.  :lol:   Okay, I am being a little sarcastic tonight; I am not sure why, but sometimes that happens. :?
Anyway, I am not really good at bookings.   I prefer for agents to book me.   We don’t get enough jobs through them though, so I am thinking of hiring someone to work in my office.   I hate selling myself on the phone.   I hate people trying to talk me down in price because the other person they called was less.   I have a hard time not telling them to just book the other person then because you get what you pay for especially when they insist they want Dustin or I because they have seen us before and know we are “the best” but they just can’t seem to understand that being “the best” means you are worth more than “Joe Shmoe”. ;)


16. What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever made?
I was fortunate to be able to work on the first Balloon Manor and this last Balloon Manor.   I didn’t make anything big for them by myself, but I helped out with a lot of the different rooms.  It is an awesome experience.   Rob, Dustin and I have also helped Steve Jones with most of his Balloon Town USA projects.  I learned a lot from working with Steve.   The first years were the best and he was a great host when it was a small group.   When you start involving a lot of people and go larger with a project, the larger the stress on the producers and promoters is.  It was great to be involved with these things though.   The friendships and connections you make are well worth the endless hours of volunteer work and lack of sleep.   It is great to see the final project. :D
The largest thing I have ever made on my own is a Brian Asman style couch.  I have made a few for IKEA and different furniture stores here.   I love to see the peoples reaction when they sit on the couch.  It is very cool.
:D
17. What has been your proudest achievement in our wonderful world of twisted latex?
My proudest achievement so far would have to be being able to get my children involved in the business too.  Whenever Dustin comes up with something new, I am like “WOW! That talented kid is my son.”   I have been trying hard not to constantly talk about him anymore though because it embarrasses him and makes some balloon people really angry at me.   He doesn’t like me to tell our customers how great he is and he also feels really shy about me telling other balloon people he is great because he thinks so many others are so much better than him and he still has a lot to learn. ;)
   Alayna and Alysa make me really proud too because they are very independent for their age. :)    Okay, they don’t always make great choices, but they love balloons and they love people and they volunteer a lot for the less fortunate.   When I see how much all three of them put into the balloon community and the promotion of balloons as art, I almost start to cry sometimes.   :oops:  (Yes I am a sappy stage mom!) :oops:  :oops:
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Simply Shonna

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Re: Shonna Flanigan Interview, 19/25th Jan
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2009, 04:50:19 AM »
Here are a few dresses from the Shanghai Fashion Show AEMI 08
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »