Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, art and the occasional rant!

controlling your face paint shopping impulses

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Okay… so you’re going to convention or a jam and there will be vendors there selling all those lovely things that we all love to buy or maybe you are feeling a little down and cruising the internet looking at all the nice new colours and tools that are now available from your favourite stores.

I am the first to admit that I have a tendency to buy anything shiny and pretty and have a weakness for books and glossy printed paper, but I have been very diligent over the last several years about keeping my purchases at events to a minimum and I don’t buy on the internet at all.

Yes, sure, I did buy something at the last event I attended but I honestly only bought what I had planned to purchase in advance of arriving, well, okay, I did give in on one small thing!

When I was at the Living Canvas Convention in San Jose in September I bought the latest copies of American Face Painter, a couple of books that I wanted to look at before buying, and two small DFX rainbow cakes (these were the ONLY impulse buy – but I had taken Rebecca’s class with the Arty Brush Cakes – and the DFX cakes were less expensive…)

And, while in San Francisco I planned and executed a shopping mission to the Kryolan store – I even emailed my list to Joe in advance so the order would be waiting for me. But I had planned to make this purchase. Although, when I got there they had a sign up “30% off orders over $50”… well, I mean, give me a break… So I picked up several more cakes – but still stayed within my original budget!

In the past I have gone a little crazy in the vendors’ room at conferences and conventions… not as crazy as some, but I would buy colours and brands that looked really pretty only to discover when I got home that I either already had it or something really similar.


Who REALLY needs all this?????

I also would buy products that were very interesting and I admit I was impressed with the pitch or demonstration enough that I though I would have a use for it – I have several storage containers full of special effects products and tools that I am still trying to find uses for.

That’s not to say that purchasing new products or tools at a conference is a bad thing! I’ve made some excellent purchases such as discovering Reel Creations Tattoo Inks at the 2001 Make-Up Artist Trade Show in Pasadena or my first bottle of Fardel Green/Gold at my first UK Convention… those were excellent buys and I would never have seen or purchased them if not for the vendors at those events.

The point of this discourse is to say that you should have a plan when you go into the vendors’ room or decide you need to buy something, know what you need versus what you want or like but don’t really need.

This may seem a little extreme to some of you, but, it does help you focus on what you are spending and why.

The first step is to actually take stock of what you have on hand. It is not a formal inventory you just go through all your supplies, in your kit and everywhere else you store them, to see what you have and what you are short of.

Make a list of items that you are interested in as well – maybe a new brand or colour that was highly recommended by other artists or a particular brush or book.

Then make a list of things you are interested in or need to stock up on. Put everything on it that you think you would like… this is a wish list to start off with and you will weed it out so don’t be afraid to include those dream items. It is helpful to sort this list by brand or supplier as that is how the vendor’s tables will be set-up. If you know the prices of the items you are interested in note those too as you make the list.

Once you have your list read it over. What on the list do you actually need? By need I mean, for example, you are almost out of that colour, your last brush only has three hairs left, you need a specific colour for an upcoming job, etc. Mark these items – you can number them 1 or A, or colour code with a highlighter – to indicate they are your highest priority. Then mark the items you seriously want such as the new book or magazine, the highly recommended colour/brand you don’t have, the new DVD, etc. – use number 2 or B or a different colour highlighter for these items. Then mark the items that would be nice to have by that you really don’t need right now. Anything that is left is obviously not important at the moment and you can disregard them from the rest of the exercise.

Rewrite your list out in priority order based on your sorting. Then consider it carefully. What are the items that you really do need and what is the cost of those going to be? Find out the price of items that you have on your list if you haven’t already noted them. How much money can you comfortably afford to spend? Keeping in mind that if you are attending an event that there will be other costs to cover such as meals, etc, and then figure out how much money you have left.

Check out the event schedule or website to see the list of vendors or exhibitors to see if all the items on your list will be available from them. If some of the products won’t be available take them off your list.

At this point I always end up reorganizing my priorities on the items… I decide that I have an alternate colour to replace one I’m running out of so don’t need to buy more, or that the new book is more important than another pack of those nice sponges. Decide what items on the list are the most important to you right now as the other items can be purchased later on – if they are for sale you can obviously order them from the vendor at a later date.

With me the biggest factor is that everything I buy has to be shipped to me so if I can buy heavier or bulky items in person and carry them home I save on shipping costs. I have to keep in mind, though, that I need to go through customs on my way home so keeping the value of my purchases within my allowable duty free allowance is important… I don’t want to have to pay duty and taxes on my purchases as that will defeat the purpose of buying in person!

I like to see new colours and books in person before I decide to buy them. Vendors often have their whole lines on display at events whereas your local supplier may not carry all of the line so it can be a great opportunity to pick-up those hard to find products. And many vendors offer special conference prices so you can actually spend a little less than planned.

There are always items that appear that you didn’t consider in advance and there is nothing wrong with buying them if you figure you will make use of them. Often vendors will launch new products at conventions that are worth considering too, so allow some flexibility. Leave a little spending room for those unplanned items not on your list. Just consider carefully whether you will actually use the item/product when you get home. What I do is look at it, try it if there are testers then think about it overnight if possible. I take the time check my list and think about what I already have at home and whether this new item will fit in my kit easily or will it end up being one of those items that sits in my office to only be used occasionally.

The last thing is to make your final list and make sure to take it with you. I have a small hard cover coil bound journal that I take with me on every trip and this is where I record my list and I tick off items as I get them. I also get receipts for all purchases and try to keep to my budget.

I have found that once I made the decision to only buy what I REALLY NEEDED as opposed to impulse buying of new, pretty, and interesting products that my business bottom line improved. I was spending WAY too much on supplies – once I stopped the buying for the sake of buying I reduced my spending about 300%… which increased my profit margin; and since this is a business operation that is a very good thing.

I still occasionally make impulse purchases – I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself once in a while, but, remember that if you are making your face painting a business you need to think like a business person and control your inventory and purchasing.

Shannon Fennell©2009


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