Interview with Industry Veteran: Chris Horne – BMTV 131


This week on BMTV we welcome in Chris Horne from Amscan. Chris is the International Creative Projects Manager at Amscan and his role involves any sort of creative design work from designing new projects or decorations for their storeroom and also does a lot of training for Amscan. We’ve known Chris for a while now but it was nice to sit down and have a chat with him to really get to know him. So, let’s get to it:

How did you get into the industry?

Chris got started as a florist working out of his parents garage, he grew the business step by step and ended up with 3 shops. He heard about the growing trend for balloons at weddings and things like that and decided to expand his business into the balloon sector. And the balloons took over his business entirely! Chris reduced the shops down and started to work from home again with the rise of the internet.

Did you find working at home detrimental to what you were offering?

It was in the early days as customers would have to come and see you in a shop and they didn’t feel comfortable walking into someone’s house. Chris got around this initially by always meeting his clients at their venue. Chris says that it now makes no difference where you’re based now as everyone buys on the internet.

What do you think about balloon retail customers competing on price with supermarkets?

Chris sees a problem in the industry with people getting worried about mass-market outlets selling balloons less than them. He thinks that these smaller businesses shouldn’t worry about the large chains, they only have a small portion of the market whereas an independent outlet has the whole rest of the market to go after. Don’t try and make your designs 20p cheaper than the competition, make yours 50p more valuable by adding personal touches that a supermarket would never do!

Some people have said that Amscan selling direct is hurting the industry

Amscan doesn’t sell direct to the public, they sell to wholesale custoemrs like Balloon Market and sometimes they will sell direct to businesses. That business will have to meet minimum order quantities and buy bulk items. Chris says that he doesn’t believe this is hurting the industry as that type of customer is very small and not a major part of what they do.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the balloon industry

Chris says that these people should look online for advice on how to get started, talk to people in the industry and listen to what those people have to say. Amscan and many other manufacturers will give training on their products and how to price creations so you’ve just got to ask! Also spend a few hundred pounds on getting the right equipment straight away and invest in your future.

fantasy dinner party

Chris would invite artistic people, one would be the sculpture Anish Kapoor, Chris would love to talk to him about some of the stuff he has come up with. The other would also be a sculpture called Chihuly who makes fantastic sculptures from blown glass.

Something interesting about you that people don’t know

Chris once had an audience of a group of Japanese schoolchildren that he wasn’t aware of in a coffee shop in Hiroshima. Chris was lucky enough to do some training and demos in Japan. One of the customs in a peace park they have there is to create paper cranes and hang them in the trees. Chris is never idle and he was absentmindedly making these origami cranes in the peace park and these school children broke out in applause then he finished. He says it was a funny moment but also a moving moment as well.

Quick fire questions

Dog or cat:
Cat – he’s got 3
Favourite flavour of ice cream:
If you could be any food what would you be?
Does dairy milk chocolate count? YES!
What’s your favourite balloon?
Curves and crescents were Chris’s concept originally so he has a definite attachment to them, but apart from that he is a big fan of Orbz.



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