We talk dream briefs + summer trends with Balloon + Floral Event Designer, Francine

We are forever blown away by your instagrammable-asf creations. How did it all begin?

Thank you so much! Surprisingly, inflating thousands of balloons a week wasn’t always something I planned to do, but there is a story…

I have spent my whole career pre-Frank and Fancy in the corporate world, mostly Leadership and Development practice in large organisations such as River Island and Thomas Cook. I loved working with people, facilitating workshops, and coaching professionals to be the best leader they can be to their people. But then, I welcomed my beautiful daughter Lulu into the world in September 2020.

The plan was always to return to my very loved career once Maternity Leave was over however as you can see that didn’t happen! I had previously booked the holy grail of balloon decor, Elari Events for a past event at River Island, and if I’m honest, I didn’t really get the big deal on balloons but they blew me away!

During those many hours doing night feeds I found myself seeing more and more incredible Balloon Designers, it was a huge industry but I just hadn’t seen much of this in Corby, and as busy as I was being a new mum in Lockdown, I also really missed being creative.

Lulu was 5 months old when I decided to give it ago, my niece was turning one and I attempted to make a Peppa Pig design, it was hard, it fell off the wall, and still never are those pictures to see the light of day! A week later, it was coming up for Valentine’s weekend and I had a lot of pink and red balloons leftover from the failed Peppa garland so I thought “OK, one last go, let’s make something for valentines!”

This time it worked! It looked great and I thought this was something I could do! I racked my brain on a name, but it ended up being pretty simple, I get called Frank and my nieces call me ‘Fancy Nancy’ so here Frank & Fancy was born!

What was the initial inspiration to start your own business and sell them to others?

My initial inspiration was to create amazing decor that most people had never seen from balloons before. I thought I would mostly sell small collectible items however I soon found my passion was for the big stuff!

Creating these masterpieces must be so much fun, but also such hard work! What are your top tips to shake the ‘funk’?

To look back, whenever I feel I’m not where I want to be, I pull out that Peppa Pig garland, I scroll down my Instagram and see what some of my earlier designs were like in comparison to now, and I pull out my diary and be thankful for every booking I have remembering I could still be commuting to London every day and missing such precious moments with my daughter.

Running my own business was never something I ever wanted to do, in fact, I would regularly say, “I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to deal with that stress”, and it is stressful at times, hard work, late nights fitting it all in once my daughter goes to bed but, its mine, I created it and I’m so proud of how far its come already.

What would be your dream balloon brief?

There are so many and probably would differ depending on what event was being celebrated. But probably a clear theme with space and trust to run with it myself and of course a good budget as I can get carried away! Also, it’s not just balloons now, props are probably what I spend most of my time sourcing, designing, and creating, I’m very lucky to have a very clever partner and dad who can make pretty much anything I ask!

Are there any brands you would love to design for?

Perhaps not any particular brands as such but if the Kardashian’s Event Planner could hit me up I’d be more than happy to work with them – they throw the most insane parties!

You have recently expanded your creative skills, launching floral event decor. Tell us about that.

Whilst my business started with balloons, my goal has always been to make sh*t look good! So to add floristry into the mix and many other new things that are coming soon felt really natural. In January 2022 I took the leap and booked a week-long course with the infamous McQueen Flower School!

I had little experience with flowers other than artificial which featured lightly in some of my designs so I was pretty nervous to go back to zero on a whole new craft. But I kept reminding myself again of the Peppa Pig garland, if I learned this much in a short time on balloons, I can learn flowers too right?

What are your predicted summer trends for parties and events?

Summer trends I keep seeing and filing away for inspiration are mostly props with florals alone, although I will always try to bring balloons into the mix. The neutral tones are still going strong but a huge wave of bright contrasting summer tones are coming! Australia is really in the lead with this type of thing. To see an example, have a look at the neutral ‘Gigi’ example on my page, I think there’s lots more of this to come! Shout out to my Dad for making me my most popular prop to date!

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Don’t stress – it’s going to work out better than you could ever hope for!

I think I spent many of my early 20s wanting to nail down a career, get my first home and tick all the boxes that meant I had been ‘successful’, and whilst that was all amazing and did lead me to where I am now, I wish I was braver sooner!

Trust the universe, it will always have your back, so maybe that’s it, I should of read the book ‘The universe has your back’ earlier.

Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs at the moment? … and are there any small businesses you would like to say ‘hello’ to?

Immerse yourself in everything available to you.

Follow and learn from those who are leading in your industry.

Build relationships with other small businesses, both similar and also different from yours.

Find what makes you different.

Don’t get caught up on Instagram following.

If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who can teach you!

Trust the process.

Oh, why did you have to ask that, now I’m worried about who I’ll miss out! There are so many but…

@lovebubbleballoons… I couldn’t keep sane without you in this crazy event world,

@lauramillsmarketing… for always supporting and guiding me,

@allthatplatters… thanks for always thinking ‘Let’s do this’ with me,

@_maria_simpson… for keeping me inspired with her very creative Reels,

@illumin8ed_letters… for always being a trusted supplier to work with,

and @ketteringdental… for trusting me with my first ever paid garland!

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