What started as volunteer gig turned into a bustling business for Ellington native Jenna Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is now Jenna Rodriguez the Face Painting Mama and does face and body paint, UGG etching, and window painting.
In 2009, Rodriguez volunteered to do face painting at a family fun day being put on by the Ellington Parks and Recreation Department at Brookside Park. She said that she painted for about eight hours and everybody kept asking for her business card – which she obviously didn’t have.
“Everybody was very receptive,” she said.
Rodriguez, who has two sons, was a stay at home mom at the time but because everybody was so receptive to her, she kept practicing all summer and landed her first professional job that fall. She said that Plaza Azteca hired her to come do face painting for a few Friday nights and she made and brought business cards.
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“Pretty much after that, I kept getting more jobs and it just grew,” she said.
Rodriguez said that she is insured and uses all FDA compliant, professional products. For the first nine months that she painted, she was self-taught. After that, she got some professional training.
“I attended a convention so I could learn from some renowned face and body painters from around the world,” she said.
According to Rodriguez, she has many different types of clients. She said she does birthday and special occasion parties – for both kids and adults, Safe Grad for Ellington High School, school PTO outings, business functions – such as events at Kloter Farms, and town events like National Night Out in Vernon.
Rodriguez has also expanded into UGG etching and window painting. She was hired by UGG Australia and Nordstrom’s as a guest artist at the store this season. This winter, she also had the idea to start window painting.
“I really feel like it’s helped me grow as an artist and I feel like it’s made me more versatile,” Rodriguez said.
She said that she asked a friend – a business owner – if she could paint the windows at the business. Rodriguez said that she was honest that she had never done it before and didn’t know how it would turn out. She said she assured her friend that if it looked bad, they would scrape it off.
It worked out well and once she had her confidence, she started approaching businesses about painting their windows. She said people were very receptive to the idea and she’s been busy for the last few weeks.
Rodriguez feels that window painting is kind of a lost art that people don’t really do very much. She also noted that many people only think of it in the winter, but that she’s available to do it at any time.
Rodriguez is a UConn graduate who has degrees in sociology and psychology and a certificate in criminal justice. She says that she has always been crafty, enjoying making all kinds of things, but didn’t see herself ending up in art.
“If you had told me that this is what I would do to make a living at art, I don’t think I would have believed you,” she said.
The job has worked well around her schedule and that of her children.
“I can schedule it around my kids,” she said. “That was always a big part of it for me. It’s been so good to have a family with. That’s one of the things I love about it too. It is fun, but it also really works with my family. Even though I feel like I’m still a stay at home mom, I get to do something that’s my own. I get to create.”
While she didn’t expect to end up here, she’s happy that she did.
“I love my job, there is no doubt about it,” Rodriguez said. “I really can’t imagine doing anything else. I just feel blessed everyday that I get to do something that I love. I feel like it really helps me. I joke that it’s my therapy.”