Young Entrepreneur Paints Pretty Picture
AT first glance, one might be easily led to think that Allister Phillip is clowning around. But beneath the clown outfit she wears during a face painting gig is a young woman who is passionately serious about making her mark in the business of fun.
The 24-year-old Bagatelle, Castries resident is a past student of St. Joseph’s Convent where she studied and wrote Visual Arts for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). It was at SJC, she says, that her love for everything artistic took root.
“I love anything that has to do with creativity and expressing myself,” Phillip says. “At St. Joseph’s Convent, I was privileged to have everything creative surround me and become a part of me. So right now I’m just trying to make my clients happy.”
Phillip currently runs Ali Cratfz Face Painting, a small business she set up in 2013. The professional face painter specializes in bringing to life the creations she has developed as well as those she sees through life experiences by painting them onto the faces of children.
Phillip first made an impression at face painting at a parish fair in Marchand in 2013. Before then, she would dabble with the art form by painting her cousins’ faces. She says that while it was a thrill for her cousins, it was always her vision to work progressively on her skills in order to attract clients.
She made her first major public outing at Mindoo Phillip Park at the official launch of Carnival last year. That was also the first time she put on her colourful clown costume in public. Not just for show, but as a key prop.
“I’ve been telling myself that children will be drawn to it. It’s part of the package. They see the face-painting clown and they automatically come to my booth. So it’s both part of the package and marketing strategy,” Phillip explains.
Before getting into business, Phillip had the foresight to hone her skills as a small businesswoman. From 2011 to 2012, she did a small business management course with SEDU, from which she emerged the top performer.
She currently works full-time at another job but does face painting as a second job to complement her income. However, she envisages transitioning into face painting full-time as her clientele builds up. For now, though, she uses part of the income she gets from her full-time job to finance her face painting business.
As colourful and fun as her business seems, Phillip admits that it’s not smooth sailing. She still faces challenges sourcing the financial aid needed to propel her small business into something major. Nevertheless, she has found an ally in a local agency which has given her much courage to press on.
“I have sought out assistance from the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU). They’re very helpful with training. They would usually call to invite me to the new workshops they’re planning. There’s also an advisor at that agency who assists me with my business. Basically, they’ve been there every step of the way,” Phillip says.
Despite SEDU’s assistance, Phillip says she hopes that a system is put in place whereby entrepreneurs can bid for financial grants after participating in the training courses run by that agency — based on SEDU’s assessment of the entrepreneurs’ business plans, of course.
So far, Phillip’s face painting skills have added colour and life to fundraisers, parish fairs, birthday parties as well as Carnival launch. She’s hoping to attract some business from the corporate sector whenever Christmas, staff parties, launches, and other events are held.
Prospective clients can check out her Facebook page, Ali Craftz Face Painting for glimpses into her work. For bookings, you can contact her at email address, [email protected], or by calling 520 4882 or 384 9254.
Phillip says the paints she uses are safe and can be easily removed with just water and soap. For children who have qualms about having their faces painted, they have the choice of having their hands painted, she says.
As colourful as her costume, paints and personality are, Phillip is proving that tapping into one’s talents can be transformational, financially-rewarding and – most of all – fun. At the end of each day, she says, the reward of doing something she loves is what’s really priceless.
“The reaction to the finished product when I’m done face painting my clients is what pleases me most. That moment when you give them the mirror and they see the transformation is priceless. As some parents tell me, some of the children even go to bed with the paintings on their faces.”