When you are a kid, your party should be magical. You are going to gorge on cake and ice cream, all your friends are going to be there, but what about your favorite superhero or Disney character, wouldn’t you want them there too? What if you could transform into a beautiful butterfly, or at least wear one on your face–with sparkles? With my special entertainment options, I am thrilled to bring big smiles to many celebrations throughout the East Bay. I enjoy being more than just an artist, but something closer to a fairy godmother that waves a wand and watches eyes sparkle with excitement.
My family-friendly and fun business started innocently enough as just something I wanted to do for my son’s third birthday party. I have always been crafty, creating things like tutus and hair accessories for my daughter. I thought I’d try my hand at face painting, so went ahead and bought some professional face paint. At the birthday party, I took time to create fanciful designs for each of the attendees. All the moms were stunned by the results. They said, “You know people would pay good money to have this at their party for their kids?” That got me thinking, maybe I could do some weekend work.
During the past few years, I have had face painting booths at Antioch’s Fourth of July Celebration, Antioch Food Truck events, Heart of Oakley Festival, City of Antioch Bug Day, movie nights, Antioch Police Department’s Halloween event, and Brentwood PAL’s Tamale Festival. I have also donated my time to the Tunnel of Love in Brentwood for two years in a row. All the donations I take in during that event go back to the individual they are raising funds for that year. It feels good to give back. Along with sponsoring East County Little League, I also offer one event per month free to any school or church that requests my service. While I grow my business, I never want to lose sight of the reason I do this–it’s making kids happy.
It’s easy to spot me at local events. I show up ready to please as a Disney princess, or in a brightly colored cheery outfit with a big bow and sparkly shoes. I bring a tall director’s chair decked out with boas, for kids to sit on while they are being transformed. Sitting up high like that feels special–all eyes are on them as they are being drawn on. They love it; it’s their moment to shine. They get to choose designs from a board, and I get to make them come alive on their face. Another embellishment I offer is glitter tattoos. I notice they make the young kids feel more grownup and they are quick to show them off right away. Another part of the experience is playing games. We include the parents, music, lights, dancing, and lots of giggles, followed by picking a prize out of a treasure box.
Part of my business expansion is providing characters for parties. Recently I was asked to play Uma from the Descendants. Uma is a dark-skinned Native American and I really wanted to recreate her look so that the birthday girl would recognize who I was right away. I was nervous about pulling it off, but with a little makeup wizardry, I am proud to say I left that child in awe that her favorite character made it to her party to celebrate her special day! I will transform into any character requested. I even send my husband in as either a prince or Batman, he has put his foot down about dressing in tights. I will be attending a local job fair to hire actors to bring even more characters on board as we are getting busier. Magicians and balloon benders are also available! All the people I will send to do parties will be screened and Life Scan certified. Soon, I will be adding jumpers for rent as an additional entertainment option.
Full-service party fun is what I am looking to package. From the looks of my calendar, I’d say this is a service that families really crave. I get booked up quickly, running to about three parties each Saturday and Sunday. I stay for about two hours at each stop, schedule enough time to get to the next one, and keep the party going all day long.
I am a stay-at-home mom to my nine-year-old daughter, Kylie, and my six-year-old son, Macen. They are very active in East County Little League, as well as soccer and Jiu-Jitsu. In the evening, I volunteer as a soccer coach. My husband is my number one supporter and works full time as a flooring supply company manager. During the weekdays, I have the honor of volunteering at my kids’ school and babysitting my 14-month-old sister. There is an incredible 30-year age difference between us. I also work in time to shuttle my 16-year-old brother to his basketball practices and tournaments. Finding time to start up a new company has been challenging, but it’s all coming together quickly. Fortunately, I can bring my kids to most of the big events and they can share in the fun too. I tell everyone I have the best job ever. Seeing kids jump up and down and squeal with delight as they view their freshly painted face is a magic all its own.
Photos by Melissa Van Ruiten