Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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I’m recruiting!

I have a couple of productions coming up for Grande Prairie Live Theatre and I need people for the make-up/hair crew.  These are volunteer roles, but great for learning about theatre and make-up/face painting.

The first production is “The House at Pooh Corner” which will be at Second Street Theatre and runs Jan 16 to Feb 1.  Dress rehearsals are usually the Mon/Tues of opening week so that would be Jan 12/13 but needs to be confirmed.  The make-up for this show will be face painting.  There are two shows on Saturdays and one show on Sunday, as well as Friday evening.  On Saturdays we usually do full application for the first show and then one person sticks around to touch-up for the second show.

I am also recruiting make-up crew for “Les Miserables” which will be running at the College theatre Feb 5-21 (Thur/Fri/Sat evenings), with rehearsal and timing test for crew on Jan 18, and dress rehearsals on Feb 2 & 3. It is a huge cast, with lots of changes (beards, moustaches, wigs, and multiple role playing). Call time is to be determined based on the Jan 18 timing test – estimate at this point it could be 5 p.m.

If you are interested contact me by comment or via Facebook ShannonFennell.MakeUp

Feel free to share if you know people who might be interested. No professional experience or training is required (but it is helpful!) just an interest and good attitude.


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Lots of ideas and inspiration

As Halloween nears lots of people are searching for ideas for make-up and costumes.  I know my Halloween clients send me images they’ve found on the internet of what they want me to paint on them.  Many are actually the work of artists I know!  Once… they actually sent me a photo of my own work!!!

We all know you can search the internet for anything – and end up spending hours going through thousands of images to find something that appeals to you.

If you are looking for make-up or face painting ideas I highly recommend the Snazaroo USA Photo pages.  These collections of images are a compilation of well over a decade of contest submissions from artists from all over the world… all sorted and categorized by subject and themes!!

There are quite a few photos of my work included as I have been sending entries in since 2002.

There are pages for Zombies, Skulls, Classic Monsters,  Pumpkins & Haunts, Clowns, Monsters & Demons, Pirates, and lots more!!  The Photo Index Page lists all the galleries.

If you are looking for ideas check it out!!

Halloween Ideas - Past and Present

Halloween Ideas – Past and Present


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Canada Day at the Park

We had a good day at Muskoseepi Park on Monday.  It was scorching hot… 34C.  Really hot for us here (I know some of you are scoffing!) and very unusual for this time of year.  A lot of people did not come down for the free activities, concerts, etc.  Usually the line for face painting at events there are hours long and take up the whole path… this time it went around the side of our tent, and then folded back on itself but never got long enough to reach up to the path.  Very steady for the three of us painting, but it ended naturally at closing time.  We closed the line and I only turned away three or so kids after that, so it worked out well.

We did my usual Canada Day routine of only offering red, white and black designs.  I had at least five signs up explaining it.  Also signs listing word choices/suggestions of designs – first time I’ve tried this.  I can’t really say it was a raving success but it did make things a little easier for my assistants as there was no expectation of the design result looking like a photo of some thing I had painted.  Parents were reading it to the little kids and obviously the word “superhero” is too vague – I got several older boys asking for Ironman and Wolverine.  We had to explain often that we were only using red and white, even with all the signs up and only those colours on the table.

Lots of Spidermen, Hello Kitties, Zombies (many on cute little girls), Butterflies, Flags, Cats, Tigers, a Lightening McQueen, some Wolves, etc.  One of my crew, Devon, was doing cats running across foreheads farting “rainbows” and glitter by request which was hilarious.

A local photographer pre-arranged to come down to take photos.  She wanted to add to her portfolio.  She was at the Swan Festival in April and had taken some great shots of my paintings.  I really love the shots she got that she’s shared with me.  Her wildlife photography is amazing – check out her work Chipabirdee Images and her name is Marilyn Grubb.  Here are photos she took and shared with me (and everyone as they are on Facebook too!)

Bat July 1 2013

Bat 2 July 1 2013

Canada Tiger July 1 2013

Canada Tiger 2 July 1 2013

Cat July 1 2013

Flag July  1 2013

Kitty July 1 2013

Tools July 1 2013


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Some pictures to share

I was recently sent some photos taken of my crew while we worked at the Easter Eggstravaganza back in April at Muskoseepi Park.   The photographer took working photos and then had us pose for him for some shots after we shut down for the day.

Here is a shot of all of us at work… the line was in the hallway to the right on the other side of that door.  People were really good about waiting for us to call “next” so didn’t crowd into the room, so we’ve only got the parents of the kids being painted in there which was nice.  I prefer not to see how many are waiting!

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This is Alex:

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This is Candi:

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This is Devon:

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This is Mom and Brandt – they were the cleaning and sanitizing crew.  Brandt was amazing – he took immediate control and kept us all supplied with clean and sanitized brushes all day.  He collected the used brushes from each of us, washed them, passed them to Mom for sanitizing and then returned them to us when she was done, as well as emptying the buckets, getting clean water, etc.  I hope he’s available next year as they want two more painters which would bring it up to eight plus cleaning crew!

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And this is the whole crew.  Back row: Devon, Candi, me, Amy, Alex.  Front row: Brandt, Mom and Shelly.

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It was a busy day and the Park booked again for next year when they gave me the cheque.


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February wrap-up

Well… CATS is history.  Closing night was last Saturday.  Every single performance received a standing ovation…  many nights the audience cheered and “whoooo’d” individual numbers too.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch any of the actual performances.  I was able to watch the last run through before the first dress rehearsal which is when we did the make-up, wig and costume checks.  It was excellent… but the atmosphere of a real performance with a full house is so different.  I am sad to have missed that but we were working right through intermission in the make-up room getting the second act performers ready.

This is an excerpt from Tuesday’s paper – it is from a letter to the editor:

“Grande Prairie Live Theatre’s production of Cats – which I saw Saturday, Feb. 16 – was probably one of the best musicals produced over the past 50 to 60 years in my humble opinion. I’ve been involved in theatre here over the years, and yet was in awe of the level of professionalism exhibited in all aspects from costumes and makeup (spectacular) to the ‘cat’ eyes intro (wow!), to the orchestra (splendid, just right), movements and dance (exciting and energetic – I was breathless before the first number ended), character interpretations (intriguing), lights and sound (just the best), and singing (I’m a singing teacher) was beyond excellent.”  Kaye Donovan, Grande Prairie [bold and italics are mine]

And the director sent me this:

“Shannon, you were the only one that could have pulled off this feat. Your talent and dedication drove this show. We always forgot about you ladies working down in the basement. Your hard work is so unsung , thank you so much, again.” Monty Haughian

I’ve had people come up to me at the day-job and when I am out face painting to compliment me on the make-up.  It was so much fun to do this show, tiring and hard work, but FUN!

My crew ended up totaling nine – one of whom was exclusively applying the wigs; one who only applied base colours; and the rest doing full applications to finishing details.  The last week several of the Cats were doing their own bases and some even their whole application and I have to say I was really impressed with how well they did!  It freed up the crew to concentrate on the rest as we had a few nights short staffed.  I’d like to thank Cazzie, Devon, Naomi, Marg, Julia, Robin, Gail, and Amy…  And thank you to the cast members who stepped up and helped out/did their own!

I had done make-up tests on each actor back in January and then used the photos to create charts to use.  Once we did the run through and we could see the effect the lighting had I changed the base colours – the white was to be for muzzles and under the eyes only (except for the two set of twins which stayed white.)  We used Ben Nye creams and base colours were Death Straw, Death Grey, Vampire, and Lite Auguste.  Then the colours and markings of the individual costumes and wigs were replicated to shade and contour – we used many shades of brown, dark grey and grey, yellow, orange, goldenrod, Dark Tech, Sunburn Stipple, Dark Sunburn, Desert Tan, Ultra Lite, and, of course, white and black…. tons of black.  Oh… and blue on Grizabella (except for closing night when she requested green.)  After the initial run through I also changed the eye designs to make the white area larger under the eyes to make them more visible to the audience.  I took all the charts I had printed and using pencil crayons made modifications to the eye lines and colours right on the photos which was way easier than trying to get new photos or draw new charts.

I strung up a rope in the make-up room with 3M hooks and used fold back clips to attach all the charts to the rope.  Then the actors would remove their chart when they arrived and went to get their bases on.  Then they would give the chart to the make-up artist who would finish their make-up.  We would then keep the charts until the end of the night.  Then when the stage manager or other backstage cat-herder came to check how far along we were they could just look at the charts on the wall to know who wasn’t yet started.  This worked excellently!  I could also then know how many cats I did at the end of the night.  I was doing 13-14 of them myself most nights.  You can see the charts in the background of this photo of me doing McCavity’s make-up.

Me and McCavity

Five characters were face painted – Rumpus Cat, Fire Frore Fiddle, McCavity, and two kittens (who appeared after the bows with their “mom” who presented them to Rum Tum Tugger who ran away with them chasing after him!)  The impact of the face paint was bolder and it was faster to do for the actors who were only on stage for minutes and not working up a sweat.

I took some photos of my applications that I was particularly pleased with during the run.  And I did Rum Tum Tugger every night and took photos to see how I changed the design each time.  One of the reasons I love theatre make-up so much is that I can play around with a design and alter it to improve it, or fix something that doesn’t work, or just try something different just to see how it will work.  I tend to stick to a plan, but details can change without causing the character to alter.  And when I like how it looks I will keep that element and play around with other parts.

Last Saturday I also face painted at the Maple Sugar Festival put on by the ACFA (local Francophone association).  This is a very popular annual event and this was the first time they hired me to face paint.

Cabane a Sucre 2013

I was swamped!  I don`t know how many I painted but I was doing under two minutes a face most of the day.  And an interesting note:  First time that I have ever had the health inspector come and check out my set-up… passed with flying colours of course!  When I arrived I was handed a copy of the Alberta Health Regulation for Face Painting by the event organizer with was the first time an event has actually been enforcing the regulations, let alone even known about them.  I was impressed and happy to be in compliance.

On Sunday I face painted with two crew members at the annual Timbits Jamboree which is an Under 8/Under 4 soccer tournament sponsored by Tim Hortons.  We were painting steady without any breaks for five hours, as usual.  Mom was washing all of our brushes as we worked.

Had a rather nasty woman at the end of the day – I had my signs up and they stated that the people in the chair at 5:55 p.m. were the last being painted.  This woman came over about 5:54 (we were all in the middle of painting children) and asked if we were painting the last ones in the chair, I said yes, these children in the chairs now are the last ones (as they were going to still be there at 5:55.)  She went away… I thought.  (I know the time exactly as we were in an arena with the big clock up on the scoreboard.)

Then when I finished the face I was painting, I stood up to see that she was still over at the bench by the sign which was the line-up location.  I said, Sorry, we’re done.  She got really angry and said all sorts of nasty things… I was tired so was not in any mood to try to be nice about it.  We think she thought that the ‘chair’ was referring to the bench used as a line indicator not the actual chairs we were using for the kids to get painted in.  Although I have no idea what her reasoning could have been.  Painting was done at 6 p.m., the event was OVER at 6 p.m., they were removing things from the arena in order to play soccer.  We weren’t able to continue in any case.  I pointed out the sign that clearly stated the times (and I’d also been making announcements for the last 4o minutes about how much longer we had.)  She said the line was long and she couldn’t see if from way back there… um, lady you’ve been pretty close to it for sometime now, obviously.  She told me I had a lousy business model. I can’t figure that one out as she was lining up for FREE face painting sponsored by Tim Hortons, not sure how us closing the line before she got her turn is a bad business model? I told her to speak to the organizer if she felt that way as we were following instructions – she said she was going to.  The organizer said she hadn’t heard from her when she came over to give me the cheque… and said she is going to try to get more budget for next year for four painters.

I rarely get really nasty people… this would be, I think, the third that has been really belligerent.  One of them was a woman with a child in a stroller who got really mad because she had got in line and waited, only for me to refuse to paint her baby… the sign, again, clearly stated that I did not paint children under three years but she complained that the sign wasn’t visible because the line was so long…???? So… once you get close enough to read it you stayed in line? Really?  What is it with people and lining up for FREE face painting and not bothering to read any of the notices?  And am I supposed to hire someone to wear my a-frame sign and walk up and down the line using a megaphone?

The line at the Maple Sugar Festival ended easily – the organizer put my sign out front a little less than an hour before the end time and put a “closed” sign on it.  No problem there.  I think I’ll have to start putting a “Line Closed” sign up – might make it easier.  Generally the times being posted works well enough.  Just is annoying to have someone attack me after a long tiring day.  I mean… none of us even got a chance to go to the restroom!

I’ve got a new crew member, Cazzie, who worked with me on Cats.  I had put out a call for volunteers to work on Cats and Cazzie contacted me – she’s also a graduate of Blanche Macdonald which is where I got my make-up diploma!  She did great on Cats and I was needing a third painter for Sunday’s job… so we made her face paint the kittens at the closing performance of CATS and she did great so “you’re hired!”… She did fantastic face painting from my photo sheets – was able to copy them and her speed was great for a beginning face painter!  Mom was very impressed as she was watching her all day.

I’ll post more of my photos from Cats later this weekend… I need to crop and edit them first.   But here’s one of Naomi starting McCavity’s make-up…

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Even more CATS

The show is going wonderfully.  Every performance has had a standing ovation and the cast are nailing it!  I neglected to mention that it is a live orchestra as well which makes it that much more impressive.

Last night the cast and crew went out after the show to In The Zone which is a sports themed restaurant across the highway from the theatre – they kept the place open and staff on hand just for us. Just to get an idea of how big the entire crew is… there were people I knew there who I did NOT know were working the show!  We are isolated in the dressing rooms which are in the dungeon of the complex under the stage… the make-up and hair crew are down there at 4 p.m. to start and we don’t generally get out of the room until 9 p.m. at the earliest.  Curtain is 7:30 so we don’t see the technical and stage crew at all.  So it was nice to see so many more of them last night.

I don’t often get a chance to go to the social things but mom’s aide was able to stay last night.  So once we got the make-up room cleared up most of the make-up crew headed over before the show finished – we got good parking and got to choose where to sit.

I’m having to do laundry pretty much every night – the capes and towels are getting completely coated in powder and are a mess.  The key to a good solid make-up that doesn’t smudge or lift with sweating is to POWDER it heavily.  My make-ups are holding up excellently even on the actors who sweat so bad that it actually rains off their wigs – every strand of hair is dripping.

The designs have been modified a bit more as well – along with darkening all the base colours which I mentioned before, I have altered the eye design to make them more visible.  The catch is that each artist is interpreting this a bit differently but I think we’ve all now got it happening consistently.  And the rest of the make-up crew has had a chance to see their work on stage and are noticing details themselves – like the muzzles needing to be whiter.

These photos are mine which I took at the tech rehearsal and run-through.

Posed photo by the entire cast – they were posing for the photographer who was in the balcony and I took this from the main level.


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Cats lounging about…

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Near the end of Mr. Mistofelees number…

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Addressing of Cats…

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Coricopat and Tantomile aka “the twins” (the brown on their faces is now matching the costume rather than the wigs.) The make-up here was done by another artist on the crew…

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Quaxo aka Mr. Mistofelees…

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Grizabella… I like this shot – the empty theatre seats make her look so alone…

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Rum Tum Tugger… early version… and I am tweaking it every night (I am the only one who is doing his make-up.)  I’m taking photos of him each time to show the progression of the design which I will share when the show is over.

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Tugger and his “mate” Etcetera…

DSC08343Tugger and the kittens…

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Did I mention that Tugger is about 6’5″ or more?  Tugger, Demeter and one of the kittens (the kittens are face painted) …

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This show is the most exhausting of any of the 80+ productions I’ve worked on… and I love every minute of it!


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Brushes – a new find

We face painters are always on the hunt for a better brush.  I have my favourites and will tend to grab the same brush over and over when I am working.  I always have several of the particular size (#4) and shape (round) and fibre (natural sable) that I like the best out on my table.

Whenever I am in Michael’s, no matter why I actually went there, I buy more brushes.  The least expensive small liners are around $4.95 each and I usually only get a month or two out of them before they splay too much and won’t go back to a point.

Brushes wear out, that’s a fact.  And I am not going to fiddle around trying to reshape one that has given up on me.  I just toss them and grab another.  It is a cost of doing business.

So… when someone mentioned that they had seen in use and then bought a set of Wilton brushes – for cake decorating – at Michael’s and that they loved them, I made a mental note to check them out next time I was there.

So… I was there last week, I went looking.  And there were three sets on the hook of the Wilton Deluxe Brush Set.  They had purple handles (apparently there are other colour handles, but not here.)

purple-deluxe-brush-set-by-wilton

It is a carded set of seven different brushes for $8.95.  That is a really good price, if they work.

And… they work!  As a matter of fact, I love them!  Well, I love the two rounds I’ve used so far…the centre large round and the next to the right in the photo.  They are great – hold their point, rinse out really fast and completely, make great lines and points, and are holding up well to the alcohol I rinse them in while working.  I’ve only used them this weekend so far but will update later in the month after all the parties are over and I can tell how they will hold up to constant use.

But, for the price, it is a better deal than what I have been doing.  I’ll be popping into Michael’s with a coupon each week to get another set to add to my stockpile!


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Playing catch-up

Sorry I’ve not posted as often as usual this month.  This has to be the longest gap I’ve had from post to post.  It has been quite a hectic month with lots of change, stress and time commitments.

First off was finding a new aide for mom.  The great one we hired in September to replace Amy had to quit due to medical reasons without notice, so there was a scramble to find a new full-time aide.  Luckily we found one and she is great!  She started on the 13th.  Our casual aide stepped in to cover some days and extra time while we got that all sorted out.

Secondly, my last day the old day-job was October 30th (the owner died in August and the heirs decided to shut down and turn over the property management to a management company) and I had to find another as, unfortunately, my market isn’t big enough to support my make-up business full-time and we have developed a fondness for groceries and heat.  I hadn’t secured a job as of the end of October so I was, as they say, “between jobs” for two weeks.  I’ve been  sending out resumes since we first found out about the company closing in early October.  I’ve had half a dozen interviews from about 35 resumes sent out.  And… only two of the places I interviewed at (to-date) have bothered to contact me post interview – one to say they chose someone else, the other to offer me a job…

I have several different skill sets and will work where there is work so… I am at Wal-Mart in Household Chemicals (that is paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.)  I was hired as part-time but will be working full-time hours starting next week.  Talk about busy!  Whew.  The Zellers here closed permanently on November 12th, and Target won’t be open until next Spring, so all those shoppers are now at Wal-Mart.

Thirdly, I’ve had lots of gigs this month.  I taught a full-day workshop for cosmetology teachers for their professional development day on November 12th.  It was a demonstration of theatrical, sfx and face painting and based on the returned class survey forms they all really enjoyed it.  I was also hired to paint “auction girls” for the local Festival of Trees gala.  There was a company Christmas party last Saturday with a crew of three painters which went very well, and the usual collection of birthday parties interspersed.  And a make-up test for CATS.

I took photos at the rehearsal of CATS – I painted one with face paint and one with cream make-up.  The cream make-up won the sweat test (which was expected) and the face paint failed big time.  There may be SOME cast that we can use face paint but I am not inclined to use it as it will look different and I want to have consistency to the look of the make-up.  Here are some shots of the rehearsal – you can see the make-up on two of the cast (face paint on the big guy and cream on the gal).

Fourthly, trying to get my Christmas baking done and get gifts packed up and shipped out!  I’m in some gift exchanges as well as the usual family stuff so have to get things out.  OMG… I just realized I missed the international deadline… D*MN.  The US deadline is December 10th which is what I was worrying about… but I completely forgot about the UK deadline.  [sigh] Well, it isn’t like the parcels get there by Christmas anyway… one year it didn’t get there until March 16th.

When I got in the car on Sunday to head out to a birthday I noticed a milestone on the odometer… I don’t often notice when I hit round numbers!  LOL  Oh and this was still in my HEATED garage… outside was more along the lines of MINUS 14C.

I painted myself up for the corporate Christmas party last weekend.  I used Grimas as the base and Wolfe white… the yellow wasn’t so obvious in person!

This snake I did really fast, maybe two minutes?  It was at the Christmas party and the boy had one of the other painters do a dragon on his other arm and wanted “something” that could fight the dragon… he was naming creatures from Harry Potter so I thought of big snakes… so I did this.  He was very happy.

One of the birthday parties I worked had a Madagascar 3 theme – only two of the girls asked for characters.  I had printed off some images to take for reference as I haven’t seen any of the movies, so I did have something to refer to – although the characters all had extreme expressions in the pictures I printed and I had to try to figure out things a bit.  I was pretty happy with how they turned out.

I was also very impressed with the cake – the mom had made cupcake “hamburgers” and sugar cookie “fries” which were absolutely perfect!  I took a couple of photos before I started painting… they really are the cutest and most realistic I’ve seen!

And here is the birthday lion with her burgers!

So that was my November.  I’ll try to stay on top of things in December… things should be a bit more normal and routine now that things have settled down.


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Halloween Part Deux

Today I had a few appointments…

First one was a big SFX job… my regular customer, Chris (who won best costume on Saturday at The Shark Club with face paint) had purchased four foam pieces that he wanted me to apply and finish.

We had originally scheduled the appointment for 6 a.m. but since neither of us had to go to work we changed it to 8 a.m.

The job took about three and a half hours.  His plan was to roam around town scaring people and then go to a club that was having their costume contest tonight… It is early yet and I haven’t heard if he won again.

This afternoon I had an appointment for a person who was going to be part of a haunted house in a town north of here… said to be scary and dead.  So this is what I painted for her… she’s wearing a veil (she’s a mourner at a haunted funeral home).

And another regular stopped by for me to apply a wig and a bit of styling.

Now I am sitting here watching for trick or treaters… so far 25.  They like the full size KitKats.


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Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #1 – The Business Plan

In 2012 I will be posting excerpts from my e-book The Business of Face Painting once a month.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Since this is a start of a new year I thought it would be appropriate to discuss The Business Plan.  I just updated mine again and it is a great tool for focussing on the coming year’s goals.  I update my plan every three to five years and review it annually – if there have been big changes over the current year I will update, if things are ticking along as anticipated I just review.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Three of  The Business of Face Painting.

THE BUSINESS PLAN

If you are starting a business, no matter how small-scale, you need to have a plan.  Obviously, planning to start a business is a plan but formalizing it into a document is a very important step and the process will cause you to think about all the aspects and risks of starting your own business.

Writing a business plan sounds daunting to many people but it is not.  The process of writing it and pulling all the information together can really help you to gain an understanding of your business and what is needed to make it the success that it is meant to be.  Being a professional face painter is really no different, from a business point of view, than being a plumber.

There are many tools available to assist you with drafting your first business plan: on the internet, from your bank or financial service advisor, from your local small business association or Chamber of Commerce.  I have provided a template at the end of this chapter which is the one that I used for my business plan and this was loosely based on one in a booklet from the bank I was dealing with at the time.  Once you take the time and effort to do it the first time all you have to do is periodically review and update it to reflect your current business operations and goals.

The business plan is just that – a plan.  It is not written in stone, in fact, it is meant to be updated and changed regularly to keep up with your business and your changing goals.  In many cases businesses write-up a business plan in order to use it to support loan applications and other requests for funding. But, I think that it is a tool that anyone starting a business should take the time to use.

A full business plan covers all areas of a business’ operation – industry analysis, opportunities for work, competition, description of your business, services, target markets, staff, equipment, contingency planning, risk assessment, business goals, marketing plan, sales forecasts, operations, inventory control and management set-up.

Many people start face painting without a real intention of it becoming a fully fledged business, then gradually they start to get paid for doing it, and then realize that they are in business without actually planning to be.  Once you are in business there are lots of things that you need to be aware of and by following the template for a business plan you will cover all the areas that someone starting or assessing their current business needs to consider.

There are different styles of business plans so if you don’t like the template I have included look around to find one that suits you… some are shorter, some are longer… it is all a matter of how much depth you want to get into.

I will go through the template point by point and provide some suggestions as to what sort of information fits with the headings.

–  Description of Industry:   Describe the services available like face painting, body painting, glitter tattoos, etc. the demand locally for the services, where you can sell the services, potential for growth, etc.  Then describe the competition in your area – do some research to find out exactly what there is in your area.  This information is for your eyes only so please be honest and accurate.  Economic factors are things like  recessions or booms – how much money do the locals have to spend?  If you are in a factory town and the plant shuts down then your economy will be slow as people won’t have extra money for face painting.  Social factors are things like religious prohibitions against face painting or lots of demand for henna tattoos for cultural reasons.  Technology and environmental factors are things like new equipment like airbrushes and environmental might be allergens or disposal of solvents.

– Description of Business Venture:  Well, what IS your business?  Describe your business in a short paragraph or in point form.  Define your target market (this is covered in detail in Chapter Four.)  Explain your competitive advantage – why will people hire you over the competition. Describe you location and set-up, staff, equipment and supplies, and  a history of the business or your experience in it.

– Business Goals:  Where do you want to be after one year?  Two years?  Five years?  This can be a simple statement or a detailed breakdown year by year.  You can be as detailed as you want – I like detail as it is easier to breakdown into parts and projects that can be completed or scrapped depending on the market.

– Marketing Plan:  How do you plan to sell your service?  List every method you can think of and how you will do it.  That is everything from giving out business cards to buying advertising to direct mail to networking with soccer moms.  Distribution is how are you delivering the services and where, how far will you travel to do so?  Your pricing, promotional plans, any guarantee or warranties (these are mostly those of products,  our services don’t lend themselves to guarantees of any sort other than showing up and doing the work.)  How do you plan to track customers and results of marketing?  Methods of payment – how do you intend to collect your deposits and fees, terms for corporate customers, etc.  The marketing plan will be covered in a lot more depth in Chapter Four.

– Sales Forecast:  This is where you get to make assumptions and predictions.  State the assumptions that you are basing your forecasts on like “The first assumption is that more work will be offered as more work is completed from recommendations, word of mouth, repeat customers, etc.”  The current version of my business plan only has four assumptions.  You can forecast your bookings month-by-month for the current year – confirmed bookings and anticipated bookings from repeat customers, etc.  And   then forecast for the future based on your assumptions.

– Operations:  This is how you supply your business with the material need to conduct business. Where will you get your supplies, terms with vendors, alternative sources for emergencies, and how you will control your inventory of products and equipment?  Where do you store your equipment?

– Management and Structure:   How is your business set-up – are you a registered company or a sole proprietorship?  What is your legal and tax status?  Who are your key personnel?

– Risk Assessment:  What is your competitors’ reaction to your business? Are you friendly and refer work to each other or are they undercutting you?  This is just a statement of fact you don’t have to solve the problems here. List “What ifs…” for external and internal factors.  What if… you spill paint on a customer’s white rug?  What if… your wrist develops carpel tunnel syndrome? Explain how you plan to deal with the risks – insurance, taking care to avoid situations that could cause injury, etc.

– Environmental Statement: Explain how you are meeting environmental regulations, recycle containers, etc.  State any training taken like WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.)

– Action Plan:  The steps to be taken to meet the goals of the Marketing Plan and how the results will be measured – usually would be increased bookings, increased income, etc.

– The Financial Plan is simply statements and numbers.  Attach your financial statements and accounting information if you want to. Forecast your income for the coming year, two years and/or five years.  Remember that this is just a plan and you can change it depending on what actually happens.  Try to assess realistically where you want to be and what you can expect to achieve.

Don’t panic!  It sounds like a lot of areas to cover but once you start to make your notes you will realize that a lot of the information will apply to different areas of the business plan.  I am not saying that it is a quick and easy exercise, but, by taking the time and doing a bit of research to fill in the information in the template you will be giving yourself a fantastic aid to develop a successful business.

It is not a project that you will complete all at once so do not be discouraged if it takes you a few weeks or even months to actually draft the entire document.  But be assured that once you have completed it you will have a firm grasp of the business you are in and be able to go back to it annually to see if you are on track and to make adjustments.  Not to scare you but my current business plan is twenty pages long without the attachments – but all I do now is review it and update where necessary and do a major update every five years.

I updated my five-year plan for the third time a couple of years back and it was really interesting to read over my goals and plans from five and ten years previous… I was a bit surprised with how things had altered and progressed as reading over what I put down on paper for my business goals has changed so much.  It really is an excellent way to keep track of your goals and how they change with time.  Growth will cause changes to your plans, as well as changing interests that you have.

Another benefit to creating and keeping an up-to-date business plan is that it can help you to prove your business intent if you are ever audited.  My accountant highly recommended that I do one when I was first starting out in the make-up industry for this reason.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008