MERIDEN — With Halloween right around the corner, Face Candy Art and Entertainment owner Jenna Morin of Meriden is gearing up to introduce sister witches into her cast of 40 different princesses, superheroes and mascots.
The Record-Journal recently sat down with Morin, a former make-up artist for AMC’s The Walking Dead, to talk about the characters, actors, costumes and the future of her business.
Q: How did Face Candy begin seven years ago?
Morin: Face Candy started as just a face painting company. I didn’t want to do the office job anymore, I was about to have my first kid and I wanted to try something else. I had been working at the Trail of Terror in Wallingford for about ten years at that point and I started to do make-up the last couple years and I really fell in love with it. So I just quit my job (in customer service IT) and decided to be a face painter. It was the biggest leap of faith ever.
Q: How has the business changed in that time?
Morin: There’s a lot more competition now. Seven years, it doesn’t seem like a long time but there wasn’t a ton of competition. There was a decent amount of face painting companies but there was still room for more.
Character companies seven years ago, there were maybe two decent ones in the state. It was nothing, but now everybody has kind of jumped on that bandwagon. I was lucky to get into it when I did.
Q: What characters will you be introducing soon?
Morin: This year is the (25th) anniversary since “Hocus Pocus” (the Sanderson witches) came out and it’s being pushed a lot. Channels like Freeform are running marathons. Two years ago kids weren’t so savvy on “Hocus Pocus” but now it’s being run so much and it’s so commercial that they know.
We’re booked almost completely all the way through October for all three Sanderson sisters. Those are our new characters and finally I get to play one. I’ve never played a character for my company before. I’m playing Winnie. We do their song from the movie.
Q: Why did you decide to incorporate characters into your initial face painting only business?
Morin: I have been doing theater in Connecticut for 20 years now, I do community theater. I had a mom call me one day after she booked a face painting party and she said ‘do you guys by chance do princesses?’ I said no, but I think I can. So I have these amazing beautiful, talented friends that I do theater with and they’re all professional singers, they’re all trained.
We had our first two princesses, one of them is still with me six years later, they debuted with the snow queen and the snow princess (Elsa and Anna from the movie Frozen). It just took off. We averaged about 100 events that summer.
Q: What are the character events like?
Morin: They put on a full show. We don’t just take photos. They sing all the songs from the movies live. If you have the mermaid princess she’s going to sing “Part of Your World,” if you have the snow queen she’s going to sing “Let It Go.”
Q: Where do you find actors to play the characters?
Morin: Most of them are my friends and even my family. Most of them are people that I’ve done shows with and I’ve seen firsthand how talented they are.
When the wayfinder princess came out (inspired by Moana of the movie Moana) we did a cast search for her because she is a specific ethnicity so we wanted to make sure that we were faithful to that. We found this amazing girl who is half Puerto Rican and half Polynesian and she sings.
Q: What is your most popular character right now?
Morin: Right now it is the wayfinder princess. Tessa who plays her is pretty much working every single weekend.
Q: How many characters do you use?
Morin: I think we are up to close to 40 now. We do all the princesses, all of the popular superheroes and any of the popular mascot cartoons right now.
Q: What is your most requested character(s) since you started the business?
Morin: The snow queen and the snow princess. They will always rank supreme.
Q: Where do the costumes come from?
Morin: I have three Etsy sellers that I have a really good relationship with who make everything for me because I’ve been doing it for so long. So they’ll make the costume how I want it, so now it’s all custom ordered.
Q: What’s the reaction from kids when you do these character parties and show up at events?
Morin: That’s the best part. I think even on my most stress filled week I walk into a party, because we will escort them in, and even the parents’ faces are priceless. A lot of these kids, whatever the instances, they’ve never been to Disney World/Land. Maybe that family can’t afford Disney at this point, it’s a way for me to bring it to them. It’s just this great magical moment.
Q: What do you see as the future of Face Candy?
Morin: I think the next step for me is probably going to be some sort of store front where people can actually hold their birthday parties at a facility that I open.
That’s years down the road but I think that’s probably my next big step.