All About Ella’s Face Painting Business

Last year, Ella requested a face painting kit for her birthday and over the last year, she’s been practicing tons on her sisters and the many little kids in our neighborhood.

As summer approached, she decided she wanted to start a little face painting business as a way to make money while she was out of school.

It’s been so fun to see her work so hard on it.

She bought herself a foam core poster board and then took pictures of her sisters and the neighborhood kids (with their parents’ permission) with their faces painted and had those printed off at CVS and used my Cricut machine to cut the letters and numbers out for the top of her board.

She designed business cards in Canva and had those printed at the FedEx store.

And then she created a Google form where people could request her face painting services for parties and events.

She’s booked a few events for the summer and often goes to local events like the Utah Valley Marathon finish line or Fourth of July events to see if she can drum up any business (and she has! She usually makes somewhere around $30-60 in an hour or two).

When I mentioned her face painting business on Instagram, here are some of the questions that came in!

All About Ella’s Face Painting Business

How old is she?
She’s almost 13!

Is she artistic in other ways? Did she just teach herself?
She has taken art classes (private and through school) off and on for the past six years, so she’s had a lot of art practice. Mostly, she just loves to draw and paint, though, and spends hours practicing on her own, whether it’s nail art or face painting or sketching in a notebook.

Did she take any books out of the library to teach her/watch any videos you recommend?
She mostly just Googled photos of face painting and copied those.

How fast does she do one person’s face paint?
Usually 3-5 minutes per child.

What supplies does she use?
This is the face painting kit we gave her last year, and she also has added this paint set, this stencil set, these blenders, this mirror, this set of brushes, this misting bottle, this shimmer powder, and this eyeliner pencil.

Do you fund start up costs or does she?
She had her original set of face paints that we bought her as a gift, but she’s purchased all her own supplies since then. We’ve had a lot of good discussions about what to buy immediately and when to wait and see what the business justifies spending money on – my favorite thing about entrepreneurship is all the skills and life lessons you learn as you go!

How is her business set up? Bank/ Venmo, etc.
She accepts cash, checks, and Venmo (she just uses my Venmo account) and has a spreadsheet where she tracks how much she makes and her expenses.

Is she still doing the cookie dough business too?
No – she stopped that sometime last year. She’s found face painting more lucrative and more fun. (Details about her cookie dough business here).

How did she figure out how much to charge for events and for things like the neighborhood party?
It’s kind of a guessing game and there’s no single correct answer (just like the grocery store sells a dozen doughnuts for $6-7 and a fancy bakery sells a dozen doughnuts for $25-30). She’s played around with anywhere from $3-5 per child and settled on $3 as the one that currently is the most successful and a flat hourly rate for events of $40-50.

What kind of events has she done? How big were they?
Birthday parties (around 20 kids), a charity event with around 250

As a minor does she need a permit or license of some sort?
Utah passed a bill a while back that forbids cities or counties from requiring permits for young entrepreneurs running an occasional business (it’s Senate Bill 81, if you’re curious, and you can read more about it here). But we did find out that in order to do it in a public/city park, she’d need a permit from the city for that.

Does she need a permit to paint at official events? Like a farmers market?
At an event like that, the organizer usually charges for a booth or space. So it’s not so much about a permit as much as cost.

Do you have any guidelines on ideas you help go all in on vs. ideas not encouraged as much?
I think a huge part of the entrepreneurial process is thinking through a business. It might sound fun to rent out bounce houses at first glance but a bit of conversation will quickly help kids realize you’ll need money to buy them upfront, places to store them, transportation, set up, clean up, and probably a bunch of other things that make it not a great business for a kid to run. I try to let them figure those things out for themselves by asking a lot of questions to help them think through the whole process and helping them come to their own conclusions about whether or not it’s worth the time and investment and work to them.

Do you or Bart stay with her during the events?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Just depends on the event, time of day, etc. Often her sisters will go along with her too.

How does she find events to book?
She’s had a few people reach out after I mentioned it on Instagram and she also passes out business cards any time she does face paint and people have reached out because of those.

How much of your time does it take?
Not much – a bit of driving her to and from events, but it hasn’t felt like an imposition.

How did you encourage her and help her learn the business skills she needed?
This is really all Ella – she is super entrepreneurial and she’s the one who drives this! And then as things come up, we’re happy to help in any way we can.

What other questions do you have about her face painting business?


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