August 24, 2022

Glitter Glamper (Season 4 Episode 33)

The Glitter Glamper is owned and operated by Gretchen Fleener from Paintertainment, LLC, an artistic entertainment agency that has served happy clients in the Twin Cities for over 25 years. The Glitter Glamper delivers temporary body bling ( think glitter beards, glitter tattoos, festival face glitter and even 3-dimensional unicorn horns ) to the Twin Cities metro area by way of Gretchen’s mobile studio on sweet, retro wheels: a 1963 Shasta travel trailer! 

Look for the Glitter Glamper at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.

Glitter Glamper Podcast Trascript

Stephanie Hansen 0:12
Hello, everybody and welcome to the makers of Minnesota podcast where we talk to cool people doing cool things. And today we are talking to Gretchen Fleener. She is a artist who does painter attainment and has a few business names painter attainment is one of them. But I ran across her because I saw something called the glitter glamper. And I was so excited about it because it can bind a camper, and glitter and paint activations and fun things to do on site. So Gretchen, welcome to the program.

Gretchen Fleener 0:47
Hello, thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here.

Stephanie Hansen 0:50
So you’re a painter Taner. Tell me what that means.

Gretchen Fleener 0:55
Yes, no. So I provide all sorts of artistic entertainment for events. I started out with face painting 27 years ago, and since then, I’ve taken up balloon twisting, and Hannah and glitter tattoos. So any kind of really artistic way to entertain party guests is what I do.

Stephanie Hansen 1:21
So tell me about how that morphed into the glitter glamper.

Gretchen Fleener 1:27
Yeah, so I think everybody I think in Minnesota knows it’s really tough to get into the Minnesota State Fair. And that that was kind of like the ultimate goal. I think for a face painter. The the big one, the big fair, and I had been trying to get in there with face painting for years. And they’ve said, you know, we have one little booth already at the fair, and we’re not looking for more face painting. So I was, I was actually laying in my camper bed one weekend, with my family. We love to go camping out at William O’Brien and State Park. That was the fall of 2018. I was just kind of, you know, drifting away when to sleep, that’s when those ideas tend to pop in your head. And I thought what if I combine camping with glamping and glitter I do glitter in my face pain and the the glitter glamper idea kind of came to mind just melding together. So many things. I love camping and I love vintage retro style and 50s stuff and all things glitters. So they kind of this idea started brewing as I laid there. And I decided to put together a proposal for the fair or something, something more than face painting something a little different, that could be aimed at adults as well and teens and involve more of the bling side. That whole face painting. Industry has really exploded in the last 10 years with new products and people are starting to like attach actual gems to faces with Princess crowns and things like that. So I kind of went in that direction, I put together a packet of photos of what I could do, including glitter beard, which was a really fun new thing. Bless my husband’s heart. He let me experiment on his beard sure know that I could get a photo of one to send them. And so my proposal included a Photoshop rendering of a vintage camper was kind of my pie in the sky name. I thought this is what I would do. If you gave me a spot at the fair I would then I would go invest in in a camper, but they have to see what your idea is first. So I luckily had some photoshop skills. I dropped my idea, send it off and that well it’s out of my hands and went through one winter and the following spring. They called me up in me and had a spot for me. So once I had that spot, of course I I kind of went into full gear, making this whole idea into a reality. So where is your spot at the fair? So actually, just this is breaking news. As of I think last week, they decided to move us I started out in the West End, which is just a super fun place was shopping and music and I’ve now moved over to this will be the first year in Baldwin Park. So it’s like a family family area over there. Right across the street from the four H building. And kind of between four h and the big big ferris wheel so

Stephanie Hansen 4:50
very close to the my talk 107 booth. Oh, one of my day jobs so I’ll pop on by so What kind of camper Did you buy? And do you? Is it more of a backdrop? Or do you literally invite people into the camper to do their glint glitter treatment?

Gretchen Fleener 5:10
Yeah. So I actually found a 1963. Shasta, which is basically it’s exactly what I photoshopped in my rendering. I was very excited when I, I found it from a guy in St. Paul, actually. And I did spend, it was kind of I call it my COVID sanity project, I spent a lot of COVID time outfitting this camper into a glamper. He’s already in pretty good shape. But yeah, my goal was to make it so that I could work out of it, like work actually inside of it with people but also be able to camp in it. So if I went to a festival that was out of town for a weekend, I could theoretically spend the night there, and then open up shop in the morning and blame people out. So I took out the front dinette section, which was like a booth in a table and custom designed a piece that would still hide the water tank, but it would function as both a booth when I’m camping and a workstation when I’m blinging in there. So it’s kind of a it’s like a sparkly transformer. It can be fever, work or play.

Stephanie Hansen 6:28
So this type of business is very solopreneur. Right? Because do you have people that work for you or work with you? Or are you solely it and then like to grow every year, you have to charge more or the economics have to be real clear?

Gretchen Fleener 6:47
Yeah, so nice meeting in general, I think it starts out kind of lonely. Usually most people start just doing parties on their own. And some people get into that competitive mindset where we can’t work with other painters, or they’ll, they’ll take our jobs and but I think when you know, Facebook came around, and all the Facebook groups came out, everybody really started coming together and connecting with other artists. And there, there’s conventions out there for face painters, so many ways to connect since I started face painting, and I actually, I kind of fell into the the agent role as I grew, I will get events that were just way too big for me to handle myself. And connecting with fellow painters around the Twin Cities really helped me build up an awesome team of artists. And well before COVID I would host paint jams at my house every month. Now I’m starting those back up again. So we have a really great tight knit community here that that helps each other out with their, their events and their booths. And so what I we all basically, as an agent, I hire other artists as independent contractors. And so I’ve luckily been able to meet a lot of talented people. Up until now that I could count on for my booth. And yeah,

Stephanie Hansen 8:17
hold on one second. Hold on one second. I have to plug in. So hold on. So you have a team of people that you can call on for these events. Like how much does a good face painter make in an hour? per se?

Gretchen Fleener 8:35
Oh, you know, it? It depends I mean, at at an hourly paid events at parties, it’s obviously more of a stable thing than than an affair. I would say the going rate in the Twin Cities is probably 150 an hour maybe more depending on what they’re offering. And of course that’s I have a blog post about this it’s not necessarily you’re making 150 In an hour there’s a lot of expenses and extra time before and after any event that goes into that so hourly events are our kind of our bread and brother bread and butter throughout the year. And then these these fairs you just never know it’s a big gamble. Yeah, but I don’t think a lot of them but

Stephanie Hansen 9:29
you know weather and you still have to staff regardless of the weather supplies and

Gretchen Fleener 9:38
weather is a big one. That’s That’s one reason I don’t do a lot of these outdoor events unless they’re a good long one like the fair you know, people are going to come at some point. So if you have a bad rainy day, you know you’ll make it up on the nicer day so

Stephanie Hansen 9:55
are you kind of like I get this vibe from you that you’re like the mother of To face painters in the Twin Cities, am I correct?

Gretchen Fleener 10:04
Oh, no, no, that would be, that would be an honor. I was considered the mother of these painters.

Stephanie Hansen 10:10
Were you a traditional artist before? How did you get into this?

Gretchen Fleener 10:14
Yeah, I mean, I’ve been an artist, my whole life, I come from a family of artists, my mom, work with our artists who work from home as well. And so it’s just kind of, in my blood, I went to school actually for industrial design, and worked in the corporate world designing retail displays for best buy for a while. And so I kind of found a career path there that use my art. I mean, I’ve been painting I guess, since I could, could hold the brush. I started face painting in high school, just as a summer job at Valley Fair and hope that is kind of where the face painting started from. But of course, they close in the summer. So I went into Camp Snoopy, when it used to be Camp Snoopy, at Mall of America for work their weekends through college. And, you know, I graduated and worked in the corporate gag, but I still kind of kept that face painting on the side just because it was, it was fun, fun and extra money. And that was part of my negotiations, actually, for my corporate job was that I’d get that week off to do the county fair. So it kind of was a high school thing, and then a side thing. And then when I had kids, it became my my full time job, which has been really awesome.

Stephanie Hansen 11:33
Yeah, it sounds like a great career to balance like home and fun. And obviously fun is a big part of of face painting. And when you talked about that, there’s been innovations in the materials. Tell me more about that. Like, what kind of things are you excited about that you’ll have out at the fair this year? Oh, yeah.

Gretchen Fleener 11:54
So the whole three dimensional thing is what sets us apart from the other face painting booths, and the gems we attach. So I also have handmade unicorn horns that we put on little girls, we can make you look like a unicorn, we have mermaid tails. So there’s that whole 3d aspect of it, we use like a skin safe medical grade adhesive. And then there’s also just just so many tools, unique brush shapes, and what we call split cakes, which are paint cakes that have multiple colors in them. So you can load up a whole rainbow on one brush. And with one stroke, you can make an entire rainbow. And so there are yeah, there’s just endless things. I run an online face paint store as well. So I’m constantly adding new things. And of course, I have to buy them myself to try them. So I yeah, I have an opinion. So yeah, it’s it’s kind of an it’s an endless stream of fun things that they come up with for face painting.

Stephanie Hansen 12:58
Do you market your store online through a search engine optimization? Because it’s such a specific niche?

Gretchen Fleener 13:04
Yeah, no, I, I wish I knew more about SEO optimization. My sister’s great at that I need to plug her into my business. I think I get a lot of business out of my website, mainly just because it’s been there for so long now. So that’s, that’s something I’d love to learn more about just just to get more traffic. But I do get a lot of people coming to my site, I think through Facebook groups. Now there’s a lot of groups for other artists and I am constantly pumping out free content tutorials and blog posts and things that all eventually point people back to my site. So I helped.

Stephanie Hansen 13:42
And is that why you make all that content?

Gretchen Fleener 13:46
Ah, no, not really necessarily. I just love to teach, I guess maybe that act of the being a mother of face painters. Yeah, exactly. They’re myself, the mother of face painters in here. There’s a lot of wonderful painters out here, but I love to help new painters and just I started school in graphic design, and I liked that graphic side of things. So I’m, I like laying out tutorials and I have a magazine I publish and I love writing as well. So that kind of brings all of those things together I can share, share what I love and help other people get into it as well. I’ve self published a few books for painters and I’ll teach at conventions and so I really just love I love teaching other artists and and just watching when they they get that wow moment when something clicks and and they figure out a time saving amazing trick or something so

Stephanie Hansen 14:44
oh much joy like you. I can just imagine a little kid that you’ve put a unicorn horn, you know and painted her face and she turns around and sees it in the mirror that’s got to be magical.

Gretchen Fleener 14:56
It is we call that the mirror moment for us. It’s like Make our payment for everything we do is just to get those those looks in the mirror and it’s just really fun to be the fun thing at the party. A lot of times I’m the surprise for the birthday child which is, you know, how can you not love that?

Stephanie Hansen 15:15
I love it. Absolutely. Well, it’s a great to talk to you. I can’t wait to see what the fair, the glitter glamper And it’s going to be super fun. And we’ll look for you in the new Baldwin Park family area. And thanks for your time today, a mother of face painters not the mother, like the mother of dragons. You can be a mother of face painters. But it’s really been fun to talk to you.

Gretchen Fleener 15:41
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I hope to see you at the fair.

Stephanie Hansen 15:44
Absolutely. We’ll talk soon. Bye bye

Unknown Speaker 15:46

Transcribed by https://otter.ai