Hello everyone! By now I’m sure you are all in full swing preparing for the Halloween madness to begin. I know that Halloween is a crazy time of year for the girls in the shop too and that they are all working flat out to get orders out to you all! For those of you who don’t know, The Face Painting shop and Eleven 16 is the brainchild of Nathalie Farmer, and this week, I have interviewed Nathalie about the journey so far, plans for the future and everything in between.
So Nathalie… where did it all start? Were you a jobbing face painter in your past life?
“Well, it all really started back at college when I was 17. I was a media makeup student, and when I finished my course, I started body painting and doing special effects work. I quickly realised that there was good money in face painting, so I added that into the mix too.
Do you still paint?
“Yes! Not as much as I probably should though. I mainly paint when I’m teaching, and at Halloween. I tend to do more SFX work now.”
When did you decide to start the shop?
“Two words…. BAD BACK! I was doing so much face painting work that my back started to give me big problems, so I needed to reduce the work and therefore find something to boost my income. It started as an online shop, which quickly grew into a monster… all from my dining room at home! We were running online for around 18 months before I decided to open the shop in Essex.”
Was that a scary step for you?
“Not me! Everyone else thought I was crazy and 99% of people tried to talk me out of it. Luckily, I’m very stubborn so I didn’t actually listen to any of them!”
So what was your vision when you first started out? Did you ever imagine that the business would grow the way it has?
“That’s a hard one! Honestly, I never really looked too far into the future. I took every day as it came, but it was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think my main vision was a one stop shop… I didn’t take into consideration how much work that involved and what that actually meant all that time ago.”
What are your goals for the business in the next 5 years? Any new ventures up your sleeve?
“Oooh… goals… YES! Ventures… YES! And that’s as much as you are getting from me on that one!”
2018 has been a big year for you with the launch of your new company, Eleven16, providing studio space and top quality training for face, body and hair artists… How has that been going?
“Great guns! We have been so busy in the studio. We had Heather Green teaching there last week, her first time in the new studios! We also have plans for more international instructors for 2019 so watch this space. The next plan for the studio is AirCon… it was seriously hot up there all summer!”
Where did the name for the studio come from?
“It’s my son’s birthday, reversed!”
Do you have any plans to open some new branches or will you always be an Essex shop? (Hint, hint…ahem NORTHERNIRELAND…ahem)
“I have been asked this question so many times! Being a bit of a control freak, it would be really hard for me to have another shop that I couldn’t give 100% as I do with the shop now. Having said that, I would love to open another in the future one… Maybe Northern Ireland!?”
The Face Painting shop has won a lot of awards. What do you attribute that to?
“I think that the awards come when they can see our dedication and passion.”
So what do you love most about your job?
“Oooh, definitely working with my team. I have an amazing team around me and that is crucial to our success.”
Would you change anything about it if you could?
“Haha.. Should I answer that honestly? The one thing I would change would be having an outgoing email only. No incoming emails!”
I get that! I think that’s part of why the business has been so successful though. You are very ‘present’ and active on social media
“Absolutely. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. There have been times when it’s driven me to tears, and other times where it has made me laugh until I cried. It is a ’must’ in business though, so I have to suck up the back times and move on. I think it is very important for me to be involved at all levels. I even unblocked the toilet this morning!
How many hours do you work in an average week?
“Around 55, including working at home and in the shop or studio.”
So what do you think makes a successful painter?
“A successful painter needs to be memorable, and have a great website. I always say that a client will remember you, more than the perfect butterfly you painted with all the extras. It’s about more than just the standard of your painting.”
What are the 3 top selling products from The Face Painting Shop’s range?
“The Face Painting Shop pink tip brushes, DFX white 90g and Global one stroke Palettes!”
This is a hard one, given that you know every colour of every brand of paint out there, but black and white aside, what is your single favourite colour of paint?
“Global Dark Blue! It’s got me out of some scrapes before!”
In your opinion, what would you say is the best brand for bases / sponging, and the best brand for line work?
“I have two! Superstar for metallic, and Global for flat colours, and for line work!”
Ok, some quick-fire random questions for you! What is your biggest fear?
Your most useless talent?
“I actually have no idea!”
Your biggest pet peeve?
“Definitely bad manners… I hate bad manners!”
Any annoying habits?
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?
“Ooooh this is a hard one. I’d love to live in a tropical country near the sea so I could go diving every day!”
I loved your recent diving photos! Is diving something you have always done?
“Yes! I love it. I feel at peace when I’m diving. My love for the ocean has always been huge.”
What else do you like to do in your spare time?
“I don’t have much! I love to take my son, Ronnie, clay pigeon shooting. It’s something he really loves to do. On occasions… go down the pub and get more than drunk!”
You and Ronnie seem to have a great relationship!
“Oh we are very tight. We always have been! I think it helps that he is super laid back”
What was the last thing that you googled?
What was the last photo that you took on your phone?
“A unicorn cup! Not mine… unfortunately!”
(At this point in the interview, my 9 year old joined me and asked some questions of her own!)
If you opened a themed hotel, what would the theme be and what would the rooms look like?
“Good question Ruby! It would have to be a mermaid hotel… Everywhere would look like it does under the ocean!”
Describe yourself in 5 words…
“Driven, passionate, Eccentric, Loyal, and eatstoomanycarbs lol!
What’s the best joke you know?
“Hahahah… I’m actually really crap at jokes! I don’t know any!”
What were you like as a child, and what did you want to be when you grew up?
“Angelic obviously… actually I was very stubborn and defiant. I wanted to be a vet but quickly realised that I didn’t have the brain power! (Bad DNA!)”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Carry on doing what you are doing! I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’ve made some crappy choices in my life so far, but that’s all part of who I am today.”
“What’s your favourite food?
And your tipple of choice?
“Pink Gin, Brandy or Pernod!”
What charity do you most support?
“This is an easy one for me… Kidney Research. My son Ronnie only has one kidney, and that is in his pelvis. I also support Macmillan.”
What is your current favourite TV show?
“Keeping up with the Kardashians!”
And one final question… What single piece of advice do you think that beginners and seasoned pros alike can benefit from?
“Get a great website! I often see painters saying that they are struggling to find work yet they don’t have a website and are relying on Facebook for jobs. Sometimes the best painters in the world are actually terrible business people. It’s a hard balance to find!”
That’s all from Nathalie, but I have some more interviews, with more industry big names coming up soon, so stay tuned! Thanks for reading and good luck for the Halloween Madness!