It’s been almost two months since my last video. You may have been wondering what happened and heard rumors that DIY Paint had been discontinued.
To quote Mark Twain,
“Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
I am not only alive and well but have lots of exciting news and a brand new beautiful website designed by Dawn Alderman.
But speaking of quotes, one of my retailers sent me a link to this quote today,
For the last few months this has been my life. Oh boy, no exaggeration either. Have you ever had one of those dreams that you know is not just a dream but a holy message from above? A few years back I had a dream like that. This is how it went down… I was on the top floor of a sky scraper in the middle of the ocean. I looked over at a mother bird pushing her babies out the window. I gasped in outrage and ran over, leaned out the window, wondering why the mama bird would send her babies plummeting down to die! The mother bird and I watched as the babies fell toward the sea. Just before they hit the water they took flight… just in the nick of time! I was so relieved to see the baby birds escape death without a second to spare. The mother bird literally danced with jubilee as she watched her babies soar and flap their wings!
Although it was years ago, I will never forget this dream.
Today I feel very much like those babies. And I can hardly believe the crazy things that have happened leading up to this day. God has given me a flight certificate and some last minute wings.I never asked for these particular wings and certainly not the scary adventure that came with getting them. But none the less, this is my story. ( FYI, the names have been changed to protect the innocent).
About five years ago, a friend handed me a quart of Chalk Paint, ( I can use the words “chalk paint” without fear of getting sued because this was indeed the brand that holds the trademark for the term “chalk paint”). “I’d like you to try this Debi. I think you will love it and you may want to consider selling it in your store”
Me – “Ok, sure. Thanks so much Jan!” Thinking silently to myself, “What is this chalk paint? Sounds like a crock, and who in their right mind would pay almost $40 per quart?
A. I loath painting furniture,
and B. I can buy oops paint at home depot for $5 a gallon.
I’ll try this fancy pants paint but I’ll never put this in my store. I’m not a paint store, I sell handmade art and vintage.”
Then I dipped my brush in the can, and everything changed. Like some kind of junkie, I began to obsess about how I would get more. This paint made my furniture look good. Like I was actually talented and it was a lot less work.I worked a deal with my friend Jan to sell paint, thinking nobody would buy it, but at least I’d get a better price. When the paint arrived, I put it all in the garden shed outside my shop because I didn’t want to lose valuable square footage inside my store. “Debi, the inventor of this chalk paint is coming to America and she wants to do a demo at your store!” said my friend Jan.
Me – “Ok. Sure!” Inside my head I was thinking… “hmm, how can I get my customers to show up for this paint personality, much less pay $38. per quart?”
Come to find out, the fancy paint sold really well and the lady behind it was kind of a big deal 🙂
Fast forward 6 months. I’m selling paint and painting up a storm until I received a contract from the chalk paint admins. I was instructed to sign the agreement or relinquish my rights to sell the beloved paint.
This contract was not something I could sign.
I called my friend Jan in a panic… “Hello Jan. This contract is freaking me out! I can’t sign it, but I can’t give up the paint!!!!”
“Debi, don’t worry. I’m working for a new paint company now. Their paint is even better and you can sell it without worry!”
I waited anxiously for the new paint samples hoping and praying that they would be just as good…. My friend told the truth. Actually, I liked this paint even more!
The next few years were a paint whirlwind. I sold the liquid gold like crazy. I painted the front of my shop with 1 quart! I met all kinds of like-minded creative entrepreneurs and I started making videos about the paint!
My paint sales became my livelihood. It was out selling everything else in my shop by a landslide. In the midst of the hype there were paint rumors and rumors of rumors. One day, I arranged to meet a fellow paint vendor in the parking lot of the Dollar Store to swap some colors and she whispered to me that there was a new paint in town…. I gasped! “What are you saying?”
Not only was she right, but a few weeks later, half of my paint family up-and-left to go with the new brand!
I was outraged and torn as some of my painting friends now worked on a new team. I slowly processed the split and realized that I could still be friends with them even if they sold another label. It was kind of like how I felt about my ex-boyfriend who is liberal and I’m conservative, yet we still figured out how to remain friends. Surely, if we could do that, I could figure this out too. As I type I do realize how silly this sounds now. But no joke, this is how it is with paint retailers sometimes.Life went on happily for a while and then more drama. This time it effected my business. Over night, my paint sales came to a flat stop. I will spare you the cold hard details and just say that it had to do with territory. And I almost lost my store. To save my business, I started looking at other paint brands to sell even though I didn’t want to. In the midst of all this, the paint I loved changed it’s formula and my decision became a lot clearer.
I began testing every paint I could find. In the middle of my search I was presented with a rare opportunity to create my own brand.
I had the chance to design my labels, file a trademark, select colors, pick color names and recruit retailers. I worked my heart out building the DIY brand and more importantly building relationships with my retailers. In less than a year, with help and support from many resources, DIY Paint was a very strong business. I learned a lot about branding and working with others who have a different vision.
This last year has been wonderful and difficult, challenging and remarkable.
In late September a friend made a suggestion.
“Debi, have you ever thought about talking to other paint manufacturers? I know of one I can put you in touch with.”
I replied, “Kathy, thats crazy! I’m super picky about paint and very few companies will work with me to provide the terms that I have promised my retailers. Besides, this would cause more drama. We all have had enough of that, it’s just too hard”
“Well” said Kathy, “I can put you in touch if you change your mind.”
I thought about it for a day and decided it was a good idea to explore other options, and have a back up plan just in case.
I typed an email to the contact Kathy had provided…
It wasn’t long before I received a response and was presented with a new opportunity to sell a premium paint with a lot more freedom, flexibility and room for growth. This new deal was on the table because the strength and fast growth of the DIY brand combined with the size of my loyal YouTube followers. This was an exciting possibility. But I still wasn’t sure if this was the right direction. I had more than just myself to consider, as there were approximately 100 retail locations selling a lot of DIY paint across the country.
As October approached, negotiations for my contract renewal with the company who distributed DIY Paint began and ended very quickly.
I soon discovered that a contract for DIY Paint was not going to be renewed and a new label would be introduced in it’s place.
This is where the story might have ended.
This is where the baby bird gets pushed out the window.
On Sept 30th when the announcement was publicly made that DIY Paint’s contract was ending, our private Facebook group became a flurry of questions and comments. I had few hours notice to write a response and try to explain to my retailers what had happened.
I wanted to tell them about my new opportunity and to give them a choice to continue selling DIY Paint with me or move in a different direction.
I had already been down this road with my previous paint company. I didn’t want there to be a divide between those who decided to sell this, that or any other flavor of paint.
I wanted to be respectful of the decisions each retailer was facing and acknowledge that what is right for one may not be right for everyone.
I was so touched by the overwhelming support of the DIY retailers. They have given me the courage and strength to lead.
Looking back on that day when I skeptically dipped my brush in a can of chalk paint for the very first time, I have to say I never set out to be a leader. I have seen the paint world from the inside and the responsibility is huge. Many things can go wrong… frozen paint, mistinted paint, paint that explodes in shipping, drama over territories, paint espionage, even law suits over trademarks.
In spite of all these things, I’m excited about my new found leadership role because I have the privilege to work with people I love and respect and now I have been given the chance to create a company that empowers and inspires small businesses to succeed.
I have a team of amazing retailers and crew behind me, starting with Kathy Frampton of White Swan who literally saved DIY Paint from extinction, Dawn Alderman who created this beautiful new website in record time and my new crew who I’ll tell you more about soon!
I have so many dreams and ideas for DIY paint. It’s a long list of things like new paint colors coming in January, a blog team headed up by Beth Tidwell of Farm Fresh Vintage Finds and an magnificent education program for retailers that goes beyond paint into social media and video training,
One big dream already became a reality last month as we launched our first DIY Paint Bootcamp!Photo credit hipointphotography.com
I will close this long post with some advice from my acting coach.
He said if you want to be an olympic gymnast you don’t learn how by reading about it or watching gymnastics on TV.
You have to take action.
You may have dreams that will only be made real by taking that scary leap, and building your wings on the way down.
Life is a mixed blessing sometimes the flight is bumpy and sometimes it is the most magnificent ride you can imagine.
Last week I flew to New Mexico for business, I was greeted at the airport by Kathy, Sarah my retailers and their sister Ruth. They gave me a place to sleep, fed me, drove me around and treated me to a big surprise!
A ride in a hot air balloon!Just like the wings I never thought I wanted. I’ve seen countless balloons fly over my neighborhood but never considered going up in one.
This was one of the most magnificent, peaceful and serene experiences I have ever had. There’s a calming quiet and probably the closest one will ever get to knowing what it is to fly like a bird.
At the bottom of this post is a short video I took from my phone.
DIY paint retailers, earn fun charms for milestones like teaching classes, starting a blog, creating videos and more. I have a new charm to add, a pair of wings! Please let me know in the comments what milestone the wings should stand for!Thanks for reading this post ( it was a long one!)
Stay tuned the videos are coming back along with a lot more surprises!