Donna’s Face Painting: Turning a hobby into a thriving business

For the past 13 years, Donna Godfrey has been painting the nation’s faces. From fun festivals, through to corporate events and small birthday parties, her work has taken her across the UK.

Donna’s journey into the world of face painting was unexpected. It started when her daughter, who loved having her face painted, often had to queue for hours at events. When Donna also saw the poor quality of some creations people were paying for, she began thinking about learning the techniques herself.

Armed with a set of paints, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, she began painting her daughter’s face.

“I discovered that I loved face painting, but still never expected it to become a business. I would share pictures of my creations on social media. Then, one day, a local princess company in Doncaster got in touch to ask if I wanted to work with them.”

Donna began working for the company, launching her own business – Donna’s Face Painting – soon after. It’s grown steadily over the years, offering everything from glitter bars to walk-about face painting. She’s also worked with companies like ASOS and Virgin Media, doing face painting for staff and family events. Her diary of bookings is so large that she now has a team of freelance face painters working alongside her.

“We go to all kinds of events, from hen parties and weddings, through to kids’ parties and festivals. We also have bookings for corporate work such as themed events at Trinity Walk in Wakefield.”

How dummies became the stars of face painting workshops

Around eight years ago, another face painter asked Donna to train her in some techniques. Donna asked around and managed to pull together a group of around six people for a training session. In that first course, participants learned by painting on each other in pairs.

Talking about the workshops, Donna says it’s interesting to see how far they’ve evolved. She now trains groups of 20, using a workbook and painting on dummies heads. It means everyone can take part from start to finish. Her beginners’ classes are in-person events, enabling people to learn techniques. The workshops have proven to be so popular that Donna now offers a Level 2 online course too

“The Level 2 course teaches designs for those already versed in basic brush strokes and terminology. My courses attract a mix of people, from professional face painters to mum’s simply wanting a play. I also ran a workshop for a group of ladies looking for a fun day away from the kids. The classes take place all over the UK. Around 80% of people learn about them from social media advertising which then plants a seed.”

Because Donna is keen to help others get started in the industry, the workshops also include information on running a business. She then offers a free Facebook group for anyone completing one of her courses. People there share examples of their work and can ask specific questions about technique. Donna also adds extra training videos and shares business tips.

“I’ve trained over 600 people in face painting so far. Many of my students stay in touch, and often work for me afterwards as freelance face painters.”

Finding a home and family at The Business Village

In February 2024, Donna found a new home for her business at The Business Village. Before then, she’d been working in a shed from home, with a separate unit to store all her kit. It took four years on the waiting list for the right space to become available but, now she’s here, Donna says it’s perfect.

“Having a dedicated space where I can store all my kit, film videos, or do private 1-1 training sessions has made a world of difference. I can get parcels delivered to reception and get more work done than I ever did at home. My online training set up is always ready to go, meaning I can quickly plug in my phone and start filming.”

Donna also says the 24/7 access is a huge bonus too. She often comes into the office late at night to collect paints and kits for events and says it always feels safe. She also loves the support and community in The Business Village.

“You can tell there’s a family vibe here, with everyone wanting to improve their business and grow. I feel comfortable asking for business recommendations, knowing it will be with people I can trust.”

Looking ahead, Donna is hoping to secure funding so she can offer free face painting training for children aged 13-19 years. She believes this age group, who were particularly affected by the challenges of the pandemic, will find it beneficial. The idea came to her after adult course participants said they’d seen a positive change in their mental health. Learning face painting will give the children something different to focus on, whilst having fun and being creative.

Donna is also determined to make a lasting impact on the face painting industry.

“Face painting is a strain on the body, and I realise I can’t do it forever. But I can’t imagine stepping away completely, so plan to continue supporting newcomers. The industry has more respect nowadays, but it’s taken a lot of work to get here. I’m keen to carry on our legacy by sharing videos and podcasts on subjects such as health and safety. This kind of education will mean new face painters can keep on elevating the perception of face painting as a respected art form.”


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