Sherrill Church is the business manager of Mimicks Face Painting that she runs in partnership with her daughter Ashlea Henson. Over the past two decades her primary focus was to build a face painting company like no other, introducing a variety of additional creative make-up lines to compliment the popular face painting service, and traveling the width and breadth of the UK attending some of the largest shows and festivals in the Country.
These days Sherrill's passion is to pass on her extensive knowledge in the industry and as a make-up instructor she again travels far and wide to train like-minded individuals on how to set up a face painting service using the Mimicks module.
Sherrill has been in business with a portfolio of companies since the early 1980's, combined with bringing up her two children, she has encountered many experiences including the highs and the lows, the profitable ventures to those that didn't even get off the starting block - and all those unforgettable missed opportunities!
An Early Starter
Her entrepreneurial streak appeared from a very early age, and she was only 8 years old when she took her first step into business. Clearing out her wardrobe and toy box she ventured to plan for a garage sale and let all her friends in the neighbourhood know that it was taking place.
A little healthy profit on all the old toys that sold was made ~ and it was with that jar full of money that she decided that she was going to do this as often as she could. Her first taste of success.
At the age of 14 she started to make soft toys after school, rag dolls, teddy bears, glove puppets and the like. Her mum and her friend would spend every Thursday in Eastleigh and sell her wares on the market there. This lasted a couple of years as did making designer clothes that she copied from catalogues and sold to her friends, cheaper than they could buy in the boutiques. It was the late seventies.
After a stint working in a holiday camp, next came working full-time in a clothes shop. She still needed to venture out in business so she placed adverts in newspapers and started making bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses and christening robes to customers own specific requirements. This was all spurned on due to her impending wedding. She was 19 years old, with a couple of businesses under her belt already.
The Romantic Eighties
In the early eighties along came her next business venture with her family ~ a retail Bridal Shop in High Street, Eastleigh called The Strelli Collection where they manufactured and sold bridal attire to local customers and to other shops throughout the United Kingdom.
At one time Sherrill had 40 dressmakers working for her and a very busy schedule indeed in quality control. She could be found burning the midnight oil most evenings of the week in her spare bedroom making wedding dresses and could usually turn out about 5 of them a week. This was the norm, as was bringing up her two children who were both under 5 years old at that time, in the late eighties.
Towards the end of running The Strelli Collection she set up Country Furnishings (which ran for a couple of years) and set about making Austrian blinds and curtains for customers on the brand new Valley Park estate. At one time there were only 2000 houses on the estate and 750 of them were Sherrill's customers that had used her curtain service.
Next came Natural Nails, a nail extension business. She worked on it for 3 months in her brothers hair and beauty salon but gave it up pretty prompt as it was having a stressful consequence on her eyesight.
A Great Opportunity
With The Strelli Collection now closed and Country Furnishings coming to an end Sherrill started Mimicks Face Painting in 1990 is still going strong to this date. Ashlea and Asa were very young children when Mimicks started and she would take them to her Face Painting events whenever she could. Sherrill could see from an early age that Ashlea became incredibly interested to learn her skills and by the time she was only 11 years old she was on the payroll (well sort of) and a very competent face painter indeed. Ashlea is now a partner alongside Sherrill in the business.
It was in 1996 that Sherrill had her Face Painting book published 'The Complete Book of Face Painting, by Mimicks'. A few years later it was re-published by an American company as 'Fantastic Fun Face Painting'.
Published by Random House, London and Sterling Press, New York, it sold very well in Europe, the United States and Canada and can still be purchased today through Amazon. Click here for details >>>
. . . those who can, Teach
Between 1996 and 2001 she worked first part-time and then full time at Eastleigh College teaching The International Theatrical and Media Make-up Diploma along with other allied Beauty Therapy courses. It was here that she gained her teaching, assessing and internal verifying qualifications.
During this time Mimicks Face Painting was still on an upward spiral of success, and between 1998 and 2005 the company was at it's peak. Sherrill and her team, along with her husband, were traveling the whole of the country in their motor home attending shows and festivals, corporate events and birthday parties. Sherrill and Roger also had a manufacturing company making the popular novelty toy 'The Wiggley Worm' which they sold to market traders and showmen across the UK and on their own face painting stall.
Fairytale Party Venue
After a year in the planning, in 2003 Once Upon A Party was born. Sherrill and Ashlea started providing location fairytale themed birthday parties and in 2006 they moved the business into a spectacular custom built Fairytale Venue in their home-town of Eastleigh, Hampshire. Together they hosted 15 different types of party themes ranging from Princess and Pirate, Fairy and Wizard to High School Musical and Spa Soiree events. In the Summer of 2010 Sherrill sold Once Upon A Party which freed up more time to spend on Mimicks Face Painting - which had taken a bit of a back-seat during those 4 years.
. . . and The Rest is History!
In 2009 Sherrill once again returned back to teach part-time hours at Eastleigh College in Cosmetic, Fashion and Photographic Make-up along with the Make-up Artistry (Media Make-up) Diploma. She is now a member of The Institute for Learning, a professional body for teachers, trainers and tutors in the Further Education sector.
Her area of training has now become quite extensive as in 2011 she became a training provider for Capital Hair and Beauty and her courses take place across the country from Southampton to Glasgow. Last year she also started to provide continued professional development (CPD) courses for lecturers in colleges across the UK, teaching them how to deliver the face painting unit by City & Guilds in their own colleges. She also runs her own Mimicks module training courses for small groups of people in her home-town, or travels specifically to their location to provide tuition.
With teaching, training and assessing playing a very important part in her life, Sherrill is now writing a couple of business books which focus on how to start and run a successful face painting venture which includes all the need-to-know information that anyone could possibly want in order to become part of this exciting and rewarding creative make-up industry.
"If you're a single mum running a business and bringing up a family - I do hope that my business history has been an inspiration to you. It is difficult and it's very time consuming, and you always feel guilty about neglecting the children. Ashlea and Asa are all grown up now and when I look at them today I know I made the right choices back then and I feel very proud about the adults that they have become, especially as I was a single mum in business for most of their childhood"