Gary, How did you get into this?


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I get asked all the time how I ever got into Face Painting and Ruby Red Paints, Inc.. I figured, I would write up a FAQ biography on myself and how I got involved in this crazy world of face painting. If I took the time to write this up I could refer to it rather than telling the story over and over. So here is a relatively quick bio on my professional life or my evolution to face paints. It really was something that evolved, rather than strategically planned.

I was born in New Mexico, lived one year in Arizona and moved to Texas when I was about ten. I was raised by two great parents in a very modest income family. Since there was no money for college, I moved away from home when I was 18 and worked two years at a paint factory that made home and industrial paints. I jumped from there to working in the factory for Mary Kay Cosmetics making cosmetics for a whopping $2.90 per hour. I literally started out there mixing cosmetics from foundation to mascara to lotions. I worked over thirteen years for Mary Kay. They had a college tuition program where they would pay for your schooling if you made an A or a B. So I went to school at nights forever, working on my Computer Science degree. During that period I left for two years to serve as a missionary in the state of Nevada for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mary Kay was a good opportunity for me. I learned a lot about cosmetics and the ingredients in cosmetics and got promoted five times during my tenure. I worked for them during a period of great growth in the company. Because of their hire-from-within policy I had lots of opportunity. I got promoted a lot not necessarily because I was an over achiever but often I was in the right place at the right time and I was willing to take some growth risk. I learned lots of manufacturing skills from scheduling, to inventory control to purchasing. I finished up at Mary Kay, the last 5+ years, in the job I aspired to and that was purchasing. I loved that job and in all reality that is my natural talent. Finding where to buy things and negotiating contracts were my strengths.

I enjoyed the purchasing job but it did not take long to realize that the money was on the other side of the desk. The salesmen were the ones making the money. I made the leap, left Mary Kay and changed my carrier path to sales. Over the next ten to fifteen years I worked for two organizations that provided lots of personal growth opportunity. During that time I traveled extensively all over the Pacific Rim sourcing goods to sell to the cream of crop in the cosmetic industry from Revlon to BeautiControl. During this period, I ran two companies and had the opportunity to hone my marketing and managerial skills. While at Nature Product Company I was Director of Joint Venture Operations.  During the course of these positions I visited factories all over Asia and some in Europe to qualify them for production or for problem resolution in the areas of quality, volume of work or procedural issues.

SNAZAROO in the United Kingdom in the mid-ninety's was wanting to expand their sales into North America. Paul Station the owner, and one of the original founders (with his wife Lauren) approached the company I was working for at the time and asked that we do the marketing and sales for SNAZAROO in North America. I was the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing. At that time, we were selling the artist brushes to SNAZAROO in the UK. I went to Minehead and visited the factory and met with the key employees. Where we saw the potential of the product, we really were not interested in doing the sales and marketing as it would dilute our current efforts. They upped the offer, saying that we could buy the exclusive rights to manufacturing, sales and distributions in a partnership.  Even then, I knew SNAZAROO would be a big hit in the USA if marketed properly.

It started out with Paul owning ten percent and then four U.S. partners (including me) each owning twenty-two and a half percent. Several years later, after Paul's untimely death, lots of changes were happening in the UK. About that time there was a reorganization where the ownership changed from the current situation, to two UK partners and myself. Then in March of 2000 I bought out all of the partners and owned exclusively, the manufacturing, sales and distribution rights to Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Snazaroo USA Inc. was formed and I ran that operation as owner for over twenty years. Since that time SNAZAROO in the United Kingdom has changed ownership two times and I retained the rights to sales in North America.  Until August of 2014 I retailed ownership of Snazaroo USA Inc. as the sole owner.

Marketing the Snazaroo product in the United States initially was not easy. I clearly recall, when we made sales calls they would simply say, "call me back when I'm doing my Halloween purchases", and then they would hang up on us. There was very little faces being painted in the United States except at Halloween. There was some face painting going on, but the majority of people were using acrylic or tempra paints and most of it was cheek art. We did a tremendous amount of marketing and literally introduced the European full-face, face painting to the North American. We also had the battle to educate the public about safety issues and face paints. With a lot of work, an excellent product and a bit of good luck, SNAZAROO in North America took hold. The world headquarters remained in the United Kingdom. SNAZAROO USA Inc. is an independent sub-set (due the lack of a better term) of the SNAZAROO UK office.  As time went on I became frustrated with my arrangements with Snazaroo. Part of that was because Snazaroo was sold in the UK twice and each time they would change the agreement. It no longer was the win/win it once was and because of my background I always knew not only could I make my own brand of face paints but I could do it better and do it in the United States. My contract with Snazaroo in the UK did not allow me to sell a competing brand so when I decided to develop my own brand, I notified the folks at Snazaroo and we parted ways and wished each other the best. It was an amicable separation. When I made the decision to part ways with Snazaroo, I looked at what I liked about Snazaroo and what I did not like. I got together with some PHD cosmetic scientists and made a better brand. We started out getting the lanolin out of the formulation as we wanted to be able to make a vegan claim on the product. This means we had no animal or animal by-products in the formulation. We also do not test the products on animals. Also out of the ingredients in Snazaroo, lanolin was one of the ingredients that poses a slight chance of an allergic reaction. The next battle was to remove all paraben products from the ingredients. This is a movement that has been going on in the USA and the European union since 1990 as parabens have been linked to serious health issues in women. It still is quite controversial but Snazaroo chose to do nothing about it. We did. This is discussed more at but the short message is we replaced all paraben preservatives to a preservative system widely used in the USA by L'Oreal and Estee Lauder. As a general rule we increased the colored pigment content 20-30% to make bolder colors, we increased our color range to one hundred colors and now offer more face painting colors than any other brand. One thing fairly unique to Ruby Red Paints, other than the fact we are U.S. made is we pantone match to colors and we will private label (see ). We feel we have the safest brand in the world by our formulation and the fact we are vegan, free from lanolin, parabens, fragrance, gluten, latex and nut products. We avoid any ingredient that can increase the chance for an allergic reaction. Not only are our paints manufactured in the United States (near Dallas Texas) but our ingredients are sourced and manufactured in the United States as well as our packaging. When you buy from Ruby Red Paints you are putting an American to work. Read even more about this at While we sell the Ruby Red brand all over the world, our face paints are also private labeled for more companies than we can count. In other words it is our face paint in the package of the customer. It appears in their stores under their artwork and their name or brand on the package. Major top tier art/craft stores are actually selling our product. Internet sales like Amazon do extreemly well with our face paints branded under their private label. We offer private label with low minimums far lower than any of our competitors.

It should also be known that around 1996 I got tired of spending my weekends doing product demos at retail stores doing face painting. I trained a couple of high school students how to face paint to take over this task. They started getting lots of requests for private parties to face paint. We were charging at the time $40 per hour and a light went off in my head understanding the potential. We were getting a lot of bookings with very little effort. I decided at that time to incorporate a new company to separate the product side of the business with the service side of face painting. Party Faces Inc. was formed. I put money into marketing and this business took off. See  So not only do I as the owner of the company understand the product side of the business but I understand the service side of the business as a face painter and service business owner. Even now I get out and face paint from time to time as I enjoy the process. I can be seen at the high exposure events of the large festivals we face paint at. Our face painting service business is managed by my wife who does a fantastic job on the phones and securing the bookings.

With my learned computer skills, and my marketing, in 1996 we did the programming for the companies I worked for. I was getting overwhelmed with the number of face painting questions directed to the site. Out of self preservation, I started the discussion list for face painters, so that face painters could go to each other to ask face painting questions. This evolved into the photo pages and then the photo contests, then the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section and much more on the web site, thanks to all of those that contribute,  has become THE site for face painters from all over the world. No other site or discussion list can come to offering such a great AND FREE service to the face painting community. The discussion list and photo pages have international members from all over the world and literally every state in the USA. There are now literally thousands of photos posted (well over 9000 last count). There is no site on the internet that has such a good FREE resource for face painters to learn, grow and improve not only their face painting skills but also their marketing and business skills. This is attributed to the hundreds of people involved from all over the world. The group that participates are always willing to help, encourage and teach others. It is a great group. It is amazing the draw this site has to the internet. On the face painters discussion list there are WELL OVER 2800 members. On the photos pages there are now thousands and thousands of photos available to help new face painters get ideas. We receive over 8,000,000 hits per month on the site and in October (for obvious reasons) well over 24,000,000 hits.  That is fabulous for such a unique niche. This continues to grow each year as the internet and face painting grows. These days the public forums have changed quite a bit. For professional face painters the forum has moved over to Facebook. When you get a chance, check out the Ruby Red Paints' Facebook page. We post some of the best photos on that page. I also camp on a small group of professional Facebook forums offering free advice and answering questions.

As part of marketing for Ruby Red Paints. We offer free training for face painters (see ) and through this I have arguably trained more beginner face painters than anyone in the world. I have travel from Hawaii to England teaching classes to thousands of people each year.

On a fun note I have competed in several Guinness World record attempts for speed face painting. Most recently in September of 2007 I traveled to Livingston, Scotland in the United Kingdom and handily broke the previous speed painting record. The previous record was 130 full faces (three colors, recognizable and different) and I came out at that event painting a speedy 217 faces. To put this into perspective a regular professional face painter will typically paint a full face about every three to five minutes. At this event I averaged a full face every 16.6 seconds beating the previous speed of 27.7 seconds. This event was held at a large shopping mall in Scotland. To date, this record has not been beat. Several groups have attempted but none have even come close. Read more about this at

Each year I travel all over Canada, the United States and Mexico teaching people how to face paint. Each year I personally teach hundreds if not thousands of people the basics of face painting. These classes are taught as marketing and a free service to the face painting world. Read more about this at to see how you can get me to come and teach classes in your area for free. I have literally taught many thousands of people how to paint those great three to five minute full face designs. It is easy to learn and fun to do. I do training at a broad range of venues from clown conventions to training staffing at large amusement parks like The Shedd Aquarium (Chicago), the Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawaii), Sea World in (San Diego) and California Disney in (Anaheim). I have been active in the world's largest face painting organization FACE. I was the first official North American member and have served many years as the USA representative ever since (see ).

My growth from cosmetics and then into over the 20 years in the face painting world have been a constant evolution entity. We now offer a series of 56 page how-to books, have high tech lasers to produce high volume stencils, now offer a full line of glitter tattoo supplies all made here in Texas (see ) and offer far more different kits than any other face painting manufacturer. We are proud of where we are now.

So there you have it. Evolution from making house paint to face paint. The future offers all kinds of opportunities. If you would have told me I would make my living off face paints twenty years ago I would have laughed at you. Now, I am in an unusual niche market, with a fun, artistic product. I still occasionally get out and face paint myself because it is a venue for my artistic skills and there is great satisfaction in holding up that mirror and letting the child look at their painted face in the mirror.

I live in Flower Mound a community of about 70,000 about 20 miles north-west of Dallas. I live with my wife of thirty+ years and six children ages 17 to 34 (the two oldest are girls followed by four boys). I enjoy painting, woodcarving, running marathons and doing activities with my family and my church. I have a growing bunch of great grandchildren. I love traveling and I hope to meet you on the road. I'm always open to go out to dinner on the road with my fellow face painters and "talk shop". We attend a number of tradeshow to promote to resellers. These include but are not limited to the CHA Show (craft and hobby association), NAMTA (National Art Material Trade Association), IAAPA (International association of Amusement Parks and Attractions), the Halloween and Party Show, the Nuremburg Toy Fair and more. If you are a reseller come visit us at the show or contact me directly at

Keep painting!!! And see you around the bend!

Gary Cole
President/Owner of Ruby Red Paints, Inc. & Party Faces Inc.

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