published Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Dayton business owner uses artistry to express others' imaginations

  • photo
    Darlene Bruehl, owner of Face Painting by Gran "D," spreads out the colorful array of handmade aprons that she uses for parties and events. Bruehl's apron collection showcases her love for butterflies and hearts, along with her belief that apron-wearing grandmothers still exist.
    enlarge photo

• Name: Face Painting by Gran "D"

• Location: Mobile on-site business, based in Dayton, Tenn.

• Contact: or

• Services: Face painting at birthday parties, reunions, store or restaurant openings and company picnics

• Owner: Darlene Bruehl, 58; her husband, Jeff, helps as her assistant

• Inspiration behind the name: Bruehl said that she'd wanted her grandchildren to reference her with a more unique name, preferably not Nana or Mamaw. Her daughter assisted with the "grandmother" persona, she said. Bruehl's German grandmother, who wore an apron daily while performing household chores, inspired her to create the six seasonal or event-inspired aprons she uses at parties.

• Startup investment: Bruehl said she spent $1,000 for the initial cosmetics for her facial artistry

• Prices: $10 nonrefundable deposit for events; $55 for two-hour parties with up to 15 guests; special events and travel rates pricing varies.

• Target market: All ages, except for children under 3

• Challenges: For Bruehl, the "fun part and hardest part is painting on a child," due to their constant movement, and the challenge to entertain in a technological society.

• Lesson learned: As a professional artist, she's learned the value of impacting a child's life through the colorful designs she paints, which helps them to explore their imaginative self-expression.

• Five-year goal: Bruehl plans to detail her experiences and showcase her design techniques in a book, once she's acquired her face painting credentials. She said that she's "not looking for something to take up all (of her and husband Jeff's) time," as retirement draws closer.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at

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