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How do you manage a business whose main customers are kids?
BRETT WINTER LEMON | Special to The Roanoke Times
Theresa Hill: “You’ve got to be upbeat. Especially in front of the kids, you can’t mope. … Kids can kind of sense it when you have an off day or whatever, and it kind of brings them down a little bit."
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Owner/face painter/balloon animal creator, Ziggy’s Entertainment
From a kid’s perspective, Theresa Hill has it all. Clowns, magicians, bounce houses, cotton candy — a one-stop shop for planning the birthday party of the century.
Hill and her husband, Jamie, bought Ziggy’s Entertainment in October. They provide entertainment for everything from company picnics to casino parties for sororities at Virginia Tech. Most of their events, however, involve entertaining children.
As a mother of three, Hill knows what it’s like to be around kids. Since learning how to paint faces and make animal balloons, she’s found that entertaining children can also be a fun job. But just how do you manage a business whose main customers are kids?
“With a lot of patience. … Everybody that works with us and with the company, we love kids. That’s the biggest thing. You have to love kids.
“The best part of it is you get to see how happy they are. Whether it’s something as simple as cheek art or a puppy dog balloon or just getting to bounce in the bounce house, they have that spark and the joy they find in something so simple. I guess the worst of it is when sometimes the parents can get a little over the top. Like if their kid is being a little rough in the bounce house and we might say, ‘Hey you need to come out for a little bit,’ parents sometimes can get a little offended. For the most part parents are really good. … Really there are not a whole lot of downsides to it. It’s got a positive side to it because the kids enjoy it so much. You can just take the facepaint brush and flick it on their face. They’re really easy to make happy.
“You’ve got to be upbeat. Especially in front of the kids, you can’t mope. … Kids can kind of sense it when you have an off day or whatever, and it kind of brings them down a little bit. You’ve got to have that positive attitude no matter what’s going on. You might have kids acting like brats at a party, but you’ve got to keep that smile on your face and keep going with it. Just have patience with them.
“Just remember they’re kids. They don’t see things the way adults do. I’m sure I was just as bad when I was a kid. You want your turn. Sometimes you get ones that are impatient. We have a face painter every Tuesday at Macado’s. I just did it for my first time last Tuesday. It’s amazing the patience the kids have, to wait in line. There’s no cutting in line, they’re not pushing and shoving. They’re very patient because they know they will get their turn.
“If you’re learning to do face paint, a lot of it’s just practice. I started learning last year when my husband started working for the company. … It helps if you have some artistic flair. Me, I can’t draw. But with the face painting it’s not really about drawing, it’s just putting colors together. It helps if you have an artistic talent, but it’s not necessary. YouTube is your best friend. It will teach you a lot about balloons, it will teach you the face painting. The only time when you really have to have that talent is when you’re doing the caricature.
“Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged with it. Kids are not as judgmental. They don’t care if it’s crooked or doesn’t quite look exactly right or really fancy. They just like having paint on their face and watching you twist this long skinny balloon into something as simple as a dog.
“I have a lot of fun doing the entertaining. I wasn’t sure when I first started; I was really nervous doing the face painting at the first big jobs and things like that. But it’s really fun. The kids will get to talking to you while you’re painting their face or doing the balloons, and you’ll hear their stories. The weird things they come up with — I had a kid ask me to paint a ferret on her arm. Kids have that wonderful imagination. I think the thing I like the best is working with the kids, which was unusual because I was always a behind-the-scenes person. I did office paperwork and stuff like that at other jobs. Then I got into this and I got more into the entertaining and it was a lot of fun.
“My kids like being my test subjects because I practice everything. They’ll sit there and I’ll say, ‘I’m done with you, go wash your face. You, come here.’ It’s really made a difference with their birthdays and stuff because they know they’re going to get something weird.
“We also teach kids now how to do this stuff. Right now at Cave Spring Elementary School we’re doing six-week classes, one hour after school. The first three weeks we’re teaching them simple magic tricks, and then I’m going to teach them how to twist balloons. They get the kits and they get to take their magic tricks home. They get 100 balloons and a pump, and I’m going to teach them something simple — do a dog, do a flower — where they can still go home and practice with it. … We’re just trying to get in as many different places as we can. The kids really enjoy it.”
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