Categorized | Business

Chance encounter leads to Disney-type ending for face-painting artist

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Fancy Face 1 Fancy Face 2 Fancy Faces 3Sometimes work can be an escape from the world.
And at other times your job can bring you face to face with reality. For local businesswoman Diane Thomas a dare  at Disney World blossomed into her new passion Fancy Faces by Diane.
Since March 2010, Fancy Faces by Diane has traveled all over North America painting faces with more than 200 designs.
“I was pretty old when I started doing this,” Thomas said. “The most rewarding thing I’ve done so far, although it was a paid job, it was so rewarding because I was able to be there to witness the whole thing. I was hired by the West Clinic by the ad company to do their Fight On At Home campaign.”
After barbers saved the heads of the survivors on hand, Diane illustrated some of her creations on the newly bald canvas. The painted designs were scheduled to adorn billboards and print ads for the West Clinic.
“I was there all day and I got to hear these amazing, gut wrenching cancer survival stories,” Thomas recalled. “ It was such a blessing to watch these people talk about there stories and how they came through using the West Clinic. That is probably one of my most awarding events I’ve done.
“It was very calm and quiet,” she added. “There were a lot of tears. Usually face painting is used around festive events like birthdays, carnivals and festivals. This was a quiet, calm and emotional day for all of us. Even for me, just the hired help. Being able to take it on the mission field to paint kids who would never have a chance to get painted is a blessing.”
Thomas is sharing the blessing with her business partners/family. Husband Shawn designed Thomas’ The Kit to hold all her paints, brushes and other equipment. Shawn also does the marketing and runs the booth at events.
Her daughter Hailey, 17, has developed her own niche of glitter tattoos and she also assists her mother at events. Son Caleb, 15, works along side Dad making animal balloons.
“We’ve definitely gotten closer working together,” Hailey said. “It’s definitely a good lesson for my brother and me to learn about how to make a living. It’s great to have an occasional source of income. It’s also a good lesson that if you work hard you’ll get something out of it.”
Almost six years of face painting has been rewarding for Diane. It all started February 2010 at Disney World when her niece talked her into getting her face painted.
“I stood at that booth and looked at their menu board with all their designs,” Diane recalled. “I just started thinking, ‘I would like to do that.’
“I set up in that chair and it took that woman about 2 minutes to paint my face,” she continued. “First of all, it was very relaxing. Second of all it’s fun because you know people are looking at you because you have something cool on your face. And I just thought it was fun.”
Thomas had hours and hours of fun researching face painting online. Through the face-painting forums, Thomas learned about techniques, which paints to buy and which products are safest.
Fancy Faces by Diane only uses paints which are cosmetic-grade made with FDA compliant ingredients. She uses brands like Snazaroo, TAG, Wolfe, Diamond FX, Paradise, FAB and Kryvaline.
From the glitter tattoos to the face painting, Fancy Faces by Diane pledges to provide the safest experience for clients.
With her research done, hours of practice on her family and neighbors, Diane started to advertise her new skill on Facebook. Then one of the nursery directors at her church Millington First Baptist asked her to provide the face painting at an event.
“It was actually a very decent rate for somebody just starting out,” Diane recalled. “Then I realized, ‘Hey, if I can make money at doing this instead of just playing around and having a good time, I can make a business out of this.’ That’s how Fancy Faces by Diane was born. I just asked God, ‘You bring me business if You want this to happen.’ I started doing research on different events and festivals. And God has just opened doors. I’ve been able to take this out on the mission field twice.”
Thomas has painted faces in Toronto, Michigan, Mississippi and all over West Tennessee. Fancy Faces by Diane’s primary base is the Millington/South Tipton area participating in events like Memphis Air Show in Millington, Celebrate Munford, Goat Days and Flag City Freedom Celebration.
“At times it’s rocking awesome and I get couple of hundred bucks out of the weekend,” Hailey said. “All my friends are like, ‘Hey can I come and work for your Mom.’ I’m like, ‘No!’”
The family business is growing with Diane executing designs like Spider Man and Wolverine to Frozen based inspirations.
For more information about Fancy Faces by Diane, call 428-3076 or visit

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July 2015
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