Business

Teenage hobby becomes full-time business, C.R. Face Painting

C.R. Face Painting builds up to a variety of clients

Brady Shaw, 3, of Cedar Rapids reacts to seeing his dragon eye face paint by Lizzy Dvorsky for her business, CR Face Painting, during customer appreciation night at the MAC Extreme in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. Dvorsky started face painting as a hobby when she was 15 years old, and it grew into a business over time. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Brady Shaw, 3, of Cedar Rapids reacts to seeing his dragon eye face paint by Lizzy Dvorsky for her business, CR Face Painting, during customer appreciation night at the MAC Extreme in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. Dvorsky started face painting as a hobby when she was 15 years old, and it grew into a business over time. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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Lizzie Dvorsky began painting children’s faces as a hobby, providing her service and talent at farmers markets.

Today, the 25-year-old Cedar Rapids native has turned her hobby into C.R. Face Painting. Her full-time business has clients ranging from corporations such as John Deere and Rockwell Collins to churches and not-for-profit organizations.

“I began face painting when I was 15,” Dvorsky said. ”I had sold handmade jewelry at farmers markets when I was 11.

“I added face painting to my booth as something fun to do for the kids. I never charged for it.”

Dvorsky’s mother enjoyed painting and that influenced her daughter.

“We always brought crayons and color markers to restaurants. She encouraged me to color, draw and paint,” Dvorsky said. “She was willing to buy me art supplies, which enabled me to pursue painting quite easily.”

Dvorsky admits that her early face painting “was not very good” — primarily painting hearts and smiley faces on children. With practice, her art improved to the point she received her first paid booking for a birthday party.

“That’s when I realized it could become a side job,” Dvorsky said. “I bought a little better paints and brushes and continued to practice doing birthday parties.

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“I had some business cards printed with my phone number and left them at businesses around the community. I also continued to do face paint for free at my friends’ and relatives’ birthday parties.

“If they wanted to tip me, that was great, but they didn’t have to pay me. I did that for about three years to gain a following, and I bought a better face-painting kit.”

When she was 21, Dvorsky went into business briefly with her sister, Melissa, as C.R. Sisters Face Painting. She also began working part time as a server at Red Lobster to supplement her income.

“I stopped working at Red Lobster when I felt that face painting had become my primary income,” Dvorsky said. “I own a condominium in Hiawatha, which I paid off this summer.

“I was able to pay it off because of how successful my face-painting business has become. I’ve also been able to save a little extra each month and pay off my car to become debt free.”

During a recent Family Experience night at New Covenant Bible Church in Robins, she painted children’s faces — and those of some parents — for two hours. Her subjects looked at a poster showing children sporting various designs and made their choices.

“I charge a flat fee per hour, regardless of how many faces I paint,” she said. “I have painted children’s faces on Tuesday nights at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery on Collins Road near Lindale Mall and I recently painted faces at Lowe Park in Marion during the Swamp Fox Festival.

“I am insanely busy during the spring and summer months with corporate events like customer appreciation days, employee picnics and family fun days. I slow down somewhat in the fall and winter months, but I have indoor bookings during that time of year.”

Dvorsky buys professional grade face paint that is non-toxic, FDA compliant and hypoallergenic.

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“You can remove it with soap and water, coconut oil or makeup remover,” she said. “I am careful what I use because children’s faces can be sensitive.”

Looking to her future, Dvorsky is considering taking her face painting business on the road beyond Eastern Iowa to large events such as the four-day Lollapalooza outdoor music festival each August in Chicago.

“It takes a lot of planning and a three-day vendor pass at Lollapalooza is $4,000,” she said. “I would need to paint a lot of faces just to cover my admission. I also would have to make more than $4,000 to cover my personal expenses.”

Dvorsky also is considering becoming a face painting instructor to teach others her trade.

“I may develop a couple of face painting classes just to try it out,” she said. “There are face painting classes in other states and I feel we need someone teaching it in Iowa.”

“Garage Band” is an occasional look at how businesses in the Corridor are working their way through the early days, from concept to start-up. If you know an early stage business we should highlight, let us know at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

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