How did I find my passion for face painting?
After agreeing to help an acquaintance face paint at the bustling Los Altos farmer’s market, it ignited a passion in me that nourishes my soul to this day.
How did my face painting business get started? While attending a business meeting at the Hotel Sofitel, I started a conversation with an older gentleman sitting in the lounge area. We became fast friends and he mentored me through a few business challenges over the months. I soon learned he was a gold and diamond investor. “I notice your face lights up each time you talk about face painting,” he said. Why don’t you get started in that?” He then reached into his pocket to pull out some cash. I immediately said, “Please don’t hand me money in a hotel.” We both laughed.
Did I get angel funding? Yes, by mere coincidence without even asking. With the investment money, I bought safe non-toxic paints, quality sable brushes, worked diligently on my images, and gained permission to paint at the local farmer’s market. I’m thrilled to report that my investor received a return on his investment in six weeks. That was in 1992 and the angel investor passed away in 2009. I’d like to acknowledge his kindness which changed my life forever.
What Mistakes Did I Make?I made a lot of mistakes. I drew dinosaurs that looked more like a snake swallowing a cow, kids wiggle constantly and the expression on my wide-eyed dolphins squiggled into killer porpoises. Round lady bugs looked like shriveled raisins and Geckos needed liposuction. My spider webs were more recognizable as inverted umbrellas. My brushes were too thick, and the wrong paints slowed me down as the thick waxy paint caked. Parents were waiting in long lines, I didn’t know how to control the proportion of water to paint resulting in smiley faces ‘crying’ from dripping eyes, and I had limited images.
I learned to practice, practice, practice and today I’m happy with the images in my gallery which I’m constantly updating and improving. I applied my business background in developing this passion into a fun fulfilling hobby.
I learned that happy kids mean happy parents. Unbeknownst to me at the time, little kids are big influencers and parents are the decision makers in this business. Whether it be at festivals or farmers markets, when a child is happy, parents are more inclined to stay longer to mingle, shop, browse, drink and eat. Thus, a little face painting goes a long way for keeping the peace while out and about with young children. I learned, too, that parents and teenagers secretly enjoy face painting. A number of images were developed for teenagers and parents – including painting pregnant mommies.
My focus has always been on customer satisfaction. Since 2000, estimating that I painted over 26,000 kids, I offered 2 full refunds and 3 partial refunds. One 5-year old child chose a scary skeleton full face painting. After finishing the details of scars, blood, bruises, and a cracked skull, he looked at himself in the mirror, got scared, and started crying. I refunded the money even though his mom didn’t want it.
Children’s smiles are priceless.