20 March 2020

Self-isolation soul soothing projects: Part 2

Hello everyone,

I am in the midst of letting you know ideas how to keep yourself distracted during the Coronavirus self-isolation days. This is Part 2 - if you missed Part 1, click here!


Projects if you’re in isolation at home 


And straight back into it. These projects are ones you can achieve with 120ml pots of Chalk Paint® which conceivably you may have lying around, or even opened tins of Chalk Paint®. Tip: if Chalk Paint® is old add some water and give it a really good stir. Keep adding water and it’ll go further! You can create a wash on furniture rather than a thick matt coat.


1) If painting is a good exercise for calming and mindfulness then sanding will help you get out some frustration! Plus, all that practice we’re having washing our hands for 20 seconds at a time has got my wrists up to anything, quite frankly! 

To paint this stool I used Chalk Paint® in Aubusson Blue and Lem Lem. For a two colour distress I like to use contrasting colours for maximum impact (I’m a maximum impact kinda gal) but sympathetic shades work well and are better suited for always-popular romantic or vintage looks. If you only have one Chalk Paint® colour you can still distress; varying the pressure you can reveal finished wood beneath - then with extra force sand right back to fresh wood. It’s a very rustic look. 


2) I have started to lose track of time but my husband loves hot cross buns so I do at least know that Easter is imminent! Maintaining fun family traditions and giving a sense of stability and normalcy is a big concern for parents when our children are going through stressful times. Building an Easter tree is fun and, honestly, is one of quite few crafts you can do with your children that actually always ends up looking quite beautiful! Send them into the garden to forage for branches, then spend the afternoon blowing out eggs and painting the shells to hang from the tree. This one is by my Stockist Deborah Meredith of Tea and Roses in the UK, and with its hopeful suggestion of new life, and indeed, chocolate, I think it would make a timely addition to any home. 

Deborah painted sheets of copy paper in Louis Blue and Antoinette. “Then let them dry. I went on walk and found an old branch in the woods. Great in the current situation when we need to get out if we are isolating! The flowers were the glued on with a hot glue gun. My daughter, aged  12, managed that with supervision. PVA could work just as well. Find easter decorations and hand them on, job done!”

Easter tree created by Deborah Meredith and her daughter with Chalk Paint®

3) Chalk Paint® picture frames! But, you cry, Annie, I don’t have any picture frames! Or I have, but I already painted them and I’m quite happy with them thank you very much. Well, firstly, I’m very happy for you and secondly, DON’T WORRY I THOUGHT OF THAT. I created these painterly picture frames on the walls and then blue tacked the pictures to the wall beneath. I think they’re witty and charming and they always make me smile. 


4) Painting plant pots is a no-brainer and because they’re cheap it’s a good activity to get the children going. This really is a doddle, and because Chalk Paint® goes on anything; plastic Ikea pots, terracotta, metal, you name it. Continue reaping the therapeutic benefits of wholesome home making during your quarantine by planting seeds in your new pots. Truly no greater joy then watching a plant grow and all you need is a sunny spot in your home or on your windowsill. 

Plant pot painted with Chalk Paint® in Lem Lem by Hayley Stuart

5) A potentially novel but very easy way to use Chalk Paint® is as a dye. This is a good option if you only have a little paint, though of course the end result won’t be as bold. Dip dye t-shirts, tea towels, and cushion covers with the children then leave to dry before machine washing on a hot setting and ironing to seal in the paint. 

Shibori cushions dyed by duo Abigail & Ryan Bell

6) Terrazzo is a very fashionable material consisting of chips of marble or granite set in concrete and polished to give a smooth surface. I’m suggesting this project because you can do a terrazzo effect over unpainted furniture or something previously painted, and you only use a little bit of each colour. There’s a link to my son Felix giving a demo – click here. Adding detail to something previously painted – whether by stencilling, or outlining the shape of a piece using a small paint brush, or adding a pop of colour inside - uses less paint but still gives the feeling of a refreshed furniture and home! Terrazzo is good because even if you only have teeny tiny increments of various colours left over…you’ve probably got enough to try this. 


7) Finally, this side table was painted with just a Mini Project Pack. So that’s 1 x project pot of Antoinette, 1 x project pot of Old White, 1 x 120ml White Chalk Paint® Wax and 1 x 120ml Clear Chalk Paint® Wax. And a brush! It’s fun to do and you can adjust the geometric shape to something else, or paint one drawer white, or paint the top, or mix the colours together for a lighter Antoinette. The world is your oyster, and the afternoon will fly by. Just know that you are going to be texting all of your friends with pictures of your upcycled piece and they may find this tiring (if this is likely may I suggest posting on Instagram or Facebook so I can see your work! I won’t get tired of seeing your projects ever).


I hope there’s something here for everyone, let me know in the comments of any crafty projects you’ve been involved in – Chalk Paint® or otherwise! Let’s make this page a bookmark of things for us to do whilst in quarantine, with stuff we have around the house already.

Sending much love to everyone.

Yours, 


Annie.

Self-isolation soul soothing projects: Part 1

Greetings, Chalk Paint® community! Tidings from self-isolation, Day 4, Oxford, UK. I have been umm-ing and aah-ing about writing this blog – I know that I am in a privileged position and that whilst for many of us the Coronavirus pandemic represents inconvenience and discomfort, for others it is a matter of life and death.

So I’m here today with suggestions for those who find Chalk Paint® relaxing, who enjoy creative pursuits as an outlet for stress, and who want to remain busy during their quarantine. The purpose is not to capitalise at a time of tragedy – I am not suggesting anybody stock pile Chalk Paint® - my Stockists, however, are among the vulnerable group whose future now feels very uncertain. All small independent business owners are suddenly faced with a landscape completely unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. If you can, please give them your support. Find your local Stockist here and ring ahead to check what measurements they have in place to protect you, themselves and their staff, and the wider community at this difficult time. Many are offering curb-side paint collection, phone payments and even deliveries. Perhaps you can pick up Chalk Paint® for yourself and a neighbour! It’s a time to think of one another  and to stay in touch with those around us, especially the elderly, the less mobile, and oh my goodness all of you with children to entertain.

So! What I’m saying is, Chalk Paint® might not be the first thing on your agenda, but it is my area of expertise, it does help people to relax and unwind, and colour really can spread joy. So this blog is a compilation of projects you might be able to do – the first projects are ones you might need to nip out and get paint for. The next blog I am publishing (click here) requires very little paint and are for those of you who are staying at home, desperately searching the internet for ways to entertain yourself, your children, and your anxious mind during these unprecedented times. If you have some old Chalk Paint® lying around, perhaps you can manage one or more of these projects… 


Projects if you can still get to the shop


If you’re still able to get to your local Stockist, perhaps pick up some supplies for projects you can complete if lockdown commences. Prepare for working from home, undertake a larger-scale project, or repaint your walls. 

1) Paint your desk! This is a fun project in terms of being fairly bitesize, not at all complex, and gives a real sense of place to your work from home environment. Choose blues to encourage deep concentration and focus; yellows for sunny optimism and energy; or greens to enable creative problem solving. Use Clear Chalk Paint® Wax to protect. 


2) Paint your office chair! Or your dining chairs. You’ll be surprised once you paint one how many chairs there are in your home which could benefit from a lick of Chalk Paint®. I used Napoleonic Blue on this beauty, then masking taped the bottom of the legs and applied Warm Gold Gilding Wax so the whole thing looked like it had been dipped in molten gold!  


3) Paint the wall behind your new work-station so it’s fresh for video conference calls. Go for a plain backdrop - or if you’re feeling more adventurous and could use the extra help remaining on top of a lot of moving parts, this wall organiser by Hester van Overbeek is a great idea and a fun project to spend an afternoon on. See more on how Hester created this wall planner here


4) Have you got some furniture at home which is looking a little tired? Painting the outside one colour – Chalk Paint® in Antibes Green on the outside in this instance, with Florence on the inside gives extra cheer. These colours give a lovely fresh, botanical feel. Tamsyn Morgans painted this piece with a flat brush to create a less textured finish as she wanted the vivid colours to be the stars of the show. Bring some nature inside when you can’t get out! The blues and greens of open skies and verdant flora. Good for the soul! 



5) You may even think this is the time to try a really big project: painting kitchens, painting floors, and painting stairs are all big jobs which will make a huge difference in your home and will keep you busy for hours. That sense of creative satisfaction could be just the ticket as the days become weeks. 




I’ve collated these projects for those who are able to get to their local Stockist, however I know not everybody is able to do so. CLICK HERE if local guidelines recommend you don't leave the house – I’ve come up with some projects you can hopefully achieve utilising just Chalk Paint® remnants you have around the house.  

Yours, 


Annie. 

14 March 2020

Mother's Day Gift Inspiration

Mother’s Day can be a difficult time of year, for those of us who have lost our mothers or for those whose relationship has been strained, it can be a reminder of what we’re missing. For those of us lucky enough to have happy relationships - be they with our biological mothers, representative figures, or our own children – it’s a good time to reflect on how lucky we are and to show those people how special they are to us.

As a mother myself, I think the best thing your children can give you – especially the grown up ones, with their own busy lives, is some quality time and their attention. Thoughtful gifts that recognise mothers as individuals, creatives, and personalities all of their own with dreams and style and talents that go beyond the nurturing or domestic are touching to receive. With this in mind I’ve compiled a list of suitable presents for the mother, or mother figure, in your life.

Charleston




My Charleston gift sets are inspired by the Bloomsbury Set and their creative retreat, Charleston Farmhouse. They’re a fabulous, fun, time-saving present for your mother which include everything one needs to complete a mini-makeover (for example a chair or a bedside cabinet). Inside each set you’ll find paint, wax and inspiration booklets to get your mum off on the right foot with her creative endeavours. The only thing she’ll have to worry about is where to display her proudly completed upcycling project when she’s finished!


Mini Project Pack



Similarly to the Charleston gift sets, these Mini Project Packs have all you need to transform a small piece of furniture – but rather than letting Virginia Woolf and her cohorts dictate the colour scheme, you can choose the colours inside yourself to suit your mother’s taste and style. I recommend choosing one neutral and one joy-bringing colour, perhaps a spring-like pastel. Your mum can have a pleasant afternoon painting and waxing and perhaps will rediscover a nascent love for painting, interior design, or DIY! The pride she’ll take in showing you her completed project will be a poignant reversal of the times you proudly showed her your own creative accomplishments as a child.

The Colourist 



The Colourist is a Bookazine which recognises that women don’t necessarily want to read diet fads and relationship advice. Packed with colourful inspiration, travel tips and home tours, this glossy coffee table time will have one’s creative juices flowing and imagination running wild – all from the comfort of one’s own sofa. And there’s no washing up of brushes to do afterwards! Perfect for the mum who doesn’t like to get messy, and who deserves a quiet half hour or two to herself with some stimulating reading material. Perhaps consider some chocolates too!


Detail Brushes


My Detail Brushes are a fabulous gift for the more experienced painters. If your mother has already painted a few pieces, she may be looking at extending her repertoire. These brushes have been specifically designed with tips that dictate four different patterns. Mark-making can be as simple as dipping brush to paint and applying to furniture (as demonstrated by my own son, Felix). More confident artists can paint freehand designs – such as this stunning piece by Maisie’s House

Workshops



My favourite suggestion for a Mother’s Day gift is to contact your mum's local Annie Sloan Stockist and book her on to an Annie Sloan Techniques Workshop. Here, she’ll learn all the most popular Chalk Paint® tips, tricks, and effects to build her confidence and inspire her to get stuck in. Bonus points if you book a place for yourself, too, and spend some quality bonding time over a Chalk Paint® tin.

I hope there’s enough ideas here for you to give a gift that is thoughtful and will make Mothering Sunday, birthday, anniversary, or any day, a really special day for you and yours! 

Annie.

13 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020: interview with Sophie Robinson



Question 1)
Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your name and your business? 

I’m Sophie Robinson and I’m an interior designer and broadcaster. I left university in the late 1990’s and got my first job on an interiors magazine in 2000. I went freelance in 2005 and have since worked as a stylist across all the top interiors magazines. I was Head Judge on BBC Two’s The Great Interior Design Challenge from 2014-2017 and regularly help the DIYSOS team with interior design for the Bafta award winning TV show on BBC ONE. I now host a podcast The Great Indoors (Annie appeared on Episode 1 of the current series!) and run my popular blog and Instagram account @sophierobinsoninteriors. I publish online courses and host workshops to help people understand how to decorate their homes with lashings of colour!

Question 2)
How did you come to create this business?

My career has been very organic and going freelance in 2005 was the best decision. It’s allowed me to grab opportunities and grow my business in a way that suits me and now suits my life as a working mother. My son was born in 2011 and I stepped back from my career for a couple of years while he was very small. Filming TV was a strain as it meant being away from home through the summer, so I’m glad it was for just three years. I now work from home and manage my business around the school day. I use social media now to share my love of design and market my courses and workshops, as well as work with brands spreading my love of colour and interior design. No two days are ever the same!

Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career?

My industry is wildly supportive and I’ve found everyone to be hugely helpful on my way to success - especially the community on social media. My fellow colleagues inspire me in business, holding positions of influence and change in this ever-changing digital media. Kate Watson-Smyth, my podcast co-host is an exceptional interiors author, having just published her third book in as many years. I get such a buzz working with her. I admire all the female magazine editors who I have worked for over my career who have created great content for their readers and now I find myself admiring women like Zoe Ball and Claudia Winkleman, who are showing us that women over 45 can still have a dazzling career in the media spotlight!


Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you've had in business?

I was completely blown away to be invited to be the judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge. It felt such a huge privilege to pass judgement on the contestants’ talent and hard work. I’m thrilled to be part of BBC Two’s new follow-on show Interior Design Masters, which continues the great work of bringing interior design to the masses and showing people that (almost) anyone can do it!

Question 5)
What advice do you have to anyone starting out?

You’ve got to love it! If you can discover your passion in life and run with it then you’ll have a better chance of enjoying every day. We spend most of our life at work so better make it fun and if you are pursuing something you care about you are more likely to succeed as you’ll put the energy required into it. And don’t be afraid to quit if it’s not working out and take chances too!

Question 6)
And finally if you were a Chalk Paint colour, what colour would you be and why?

English Yellow because I’m eternally smiling and optimistic!


11 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020: interview with Chloe Kempster


Question 1)
Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your name and your business? 

My name is Chloe Kempster and I started Maisie’s House at the age of 26, shortly after having my second child. Like Annie, I am a qualified artist and professional furniture upcycler. I embrace colour and creativity on a daily basis and create one of a kind pieces from my workshop in South Leicestershire, I like to think of each piece as functional art.

Question 2)
How did you come to create this business?

For so many reasons, Maisie’s House is a perfect fit for me, it enables me to do everything I love doing alongside the people I love! I had completed a Fine Art Degree previously and had worked in retail as a Visual Merchandiser. Interior Design was also another passion and when furnishing our first family home on a tight budget, a necessity. After starting my family, I knew straight away that being around for the kids was something I really wanted, so I took the leap leaving my job in retail at the time and began working from home. Yes, it was a risk and financially it has been difficult at times, but I wouldn’t give up spending the early years with the children for anything.

Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career?

I am thankful to my mum for surrounding me with creativity as a child, for always providing a good supply of art materials and her eternally positive spirit, not to mention she has a brilliant eye for interior décor! We have just always had so much in common and  I am so grateful that I have someone I can relate to who is a great source of encouragement, she is the first one I call when I have finished a new piece to ask her opinion, love her to bits! Like her I have always encouraged my own children to believe the future is in their hands and I feel like Maisie’s House is a good example of that, I hope to be a positive role model to them like my mum was to me!


Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you've had in business?

There are a few, I think one of them definitely has to be my role as an Artisan on the BBC1 show Money for Nothing. Television isn’t something that I had thought about before and working on the show has taken me completely out of my comfort zone and also inspired me to push my boundaries creatively. And of course being asked to be Annie Sloan’s Painter in Residence was beyond my imagination, what a privilege, I am so honoured to be a source of inspiration to other people in the industry, I love to encourage people to think outside the box and in particular be brave with colour, this is what really makes me smile.


Question 5)
What advice do you have to anyone starting out?

Stay true to what you are passionate about, It is so important that your work really represents you and the things you love and believe in, if you believe in what you are doing, then other people will, and of course a bit of hard work and determination also helps!

Question 6)
And finally if you were a Chalk Paint colour, what colour would you be and why?

If I was a Chalk Paint® colour, I would definitely be Florence. Not only is this my favourite Annie Sloan shade, I feel it can take on different personalities and represents my eclectic taste! It can be fun and bright, yet also sophisticated and mysterious!!



9 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020: interview with Anne Maij


Question 1)
Tell us a bit about yourself – what is your name and your business? 

My name is Anne Maij, and together with my husband Menno I am the owner of Auberge de Rêves (translated to English this means Inn of Dreams). We design and create handmade furniture for our own label; we have a lovely small gift & interior shop in Leerdam (in the centre of the Netherlands); and we are extremely proud Annie Sloan Stockists (and have been for over 5 and a half years now).

The real beginning of the Auberge was in summer 2007, when I was 36. We had a kind of pop-up business during the summer for which Menno made all sorts of garden furniture, and I painted them. Afterwards we went on a holiday for a week and that was that, but the next summer we started all over again. This is where it all began.

Question 2)
How did you come to create this business?

When the business was starting, I was also working as a nurse. Nursing was great, but it was very intensive, and I first discovered painting as something to do on the side to clear my head. Being creative was exactly what I needed. I remembered that I used to love all sorts of creative things when I was a child, but when I grew older I totally forgot about that part of myself. Then I discovered Annie Sloan Paint, and suddenly all my creativity came back, just like that. This has been my fulltime job for almost 5 years, so I am one of the lucky people who are able to earn a living with their hobby, and I still enjoy my work every day!



Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career? 

I feel inspired by many women! For example Edith Piaf, Coco Chanel, Meryl Streep, but also painters like Charley Toorop and Else Berg, a Jewish painter who created the most beautiful paintings, and tragically died in Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of 65. My favourite of her paintings is Mystical Pond.

I also felt - and feel - very inspired by Annie Sloan herself! She is not only a very gifted artist, but also a great teacher and coach, an enormously inspiring businesswoman and a very kind and lovely person too. I’m especially inspired when I consider all she means to so many people (and especially to so many small businesswomen and customers) throughout the whole world who gained self-confidence just by working with her paint.

Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you’ve had in business?

Well, I actually find it quite difficult to be really proud of what I am doing, because like a lot of a women I can be quite a perfectionist (which can sometimes be quite tiring). But if I need to pick one, it would be the moment I realised myself that I can really do this job, and that I am able to earn my own living by doing what I love the most.

Question 5)
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?

Just start! If you have a dream and a (kind of a) plan, don’t let other people or yourself stop you by all sorts of irrelevant objections. Just get on and do it. Over time you will grow, and find out what does and does not work for you. And most of all: enjoy the journey and stay true to yourself!

Question 6)
And finally, if you were a Chalk Paint colour, which would you be and why?

Although my favourite colours are Aubusson Blue, Olive and Duck Egg Blue, I think I have to choose Primer Red for myself. It’s a warm, earthly colour, but still a red tone, which is also a fiery colour.

I can be very sensible and ‘down-to-earth’ and people describe me often as empathetic, but inside there is always a fire burning too, which can flare up in case of injustice, dishonesty or any kind of abuse to people, animals or nature. But luckily most of the time the practical ‘down-to-earth’-part is in charge, what is best for me and my environment 😉 .



6 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020: interview with Annie Sloan



Question 1)

Tell us a bit about yourself – what is your name and your business?

My name’s Annie Sloan and the name of my business is Annie Sloan Interiors (you can see what I did there) and I am known for inventing Chalk Paint® in 1990, when I was 40. Which is interesting I think, as I started my business when I was a little older. I had been doing other things, writing books and working in furniture restoration and running a small independent business, but 1990 was when it really took off. My children were small, all under five years of age, and that was a huge motivating factor. I couldn’t continue working the hours I had been and missing them growing up.

Question 2)

How did you come to create this business?

I did it because I wanted to stay at home more for my children. Inventing Chalk Paint®, which can be painted in the morning, left to dry, then waxed and returned to its place in the home before the boys came back to school gave me and so many others the flexibility that we needed. It democratized the process of furniture restoration and of interior design so that rather than me doing everything for people they could do it themselves. Teach a person to fish and all that. Once people saw how easy, and how enjoyable it was, there was no going back.

Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career?

The people that inspire me or gave me strength are other creative women. Virginia Woolf and the other women from the Bloomsbury Set. I also devoured Germaine Greer’s theories when they first came out, the idea of conditioning and that a woman can do anything a man can do, she has simply been conditioned to believe that she couldn’t was a liberating concept. It’s also something Victoria Woolf explored in Orlando. I’m also lucky to have had a very sensible father, who although born in 1909 was staunch in his belief that women can do anything.

Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you’ve had in business?

My proudest moment…it is difficult to highlight just one. Starting our own factory felt like a real arrival at something. Chalk Paint® is now made inhouse at my factory in Oxford, in a building where I also have my studio and the Annie Sloan Interiors offices. We’ve built a brilliant team who I’m also incredibly proud to come to work with every day.



Question 5)
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?

The thing that I have to constantly remind myself is “no one else is going to do it”. You have to do it yourself. That’s very difficult, but it’s true. You know your business better than anybody. I also think it’s important to be kind to everybody; there’s this fallacy that to success in business you have to be tough and hard and horrible but in my experience it’s been the opposite.

Question 6)
And finally, if you were a Chalk Paint colour, which would you be and why?

Florence is the first colour which came into my head. Because it’s vibrant and unusual and not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s warm and it’s cool just like me!





International Women's Day 2020: interview with Rachel Hardage


Question 1)
Tell us a bit about yourself – what is your name and your business?

Rachel Hardage Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of Country Living (U.S./Canada Edition)

Since those early days of Scholastic book fairs and Shel Silverstein poems, I’ve always loved words and writing. An elementary school teacher named Mrs. Ivy recognized that in me and instilled confidence on that front. I went on to be editor of my high school newspaper (shout-out to The Trojan Torch!) and major in English Literature. After college in Tennessee, I moved to New York City, where I didn’t know a soul, to pursue a magazine career. After a short stint in marketing, I landed a dream job at Glamour, where I worked for several years in my early- to mid-20s before moving to Real Simple, Southern Living, and, finally, Country Living—a job I applied for while on maternity leave with my first child. By the time I landed the position, I was pregnant with my second!

Question 2)

How did you come to work for this business?

When I was working at Glamour, I was called into Hearst (Country Living’s parent company) for an “informational interview.” Basically, the talent recruiter used these as an opportunity to get to know people within the industry. He gave me a sheet of paper with all of the Hearst titles on it—Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar…—and asked me where I’d have interest in working someday. I think he was surprised when I bypassed the women’s fashion titles and pointed at Country Living. I had long been a fan of the magazine—even more so living in New York City, because it connected me to my Tennessee upbringing. Many years later, when I was working in Alabama at Southern Living, he reached out about the EIC opportunity at Country Living.


Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career? 

From Close-Up:
I’ve been fortunate to work with extremely creative, passionate—and kind—editors throughout my career, including Cindi Leive (longtime editor of Glamour), Kristin van Ogtrop (at both Glamour and Real Simple), and, now, Kate Lewis, the Chief Content Officer at Hearst. In an industry that is sometimes stereotyped as cutthroat, they all foster women-supporting-women work environments. I didn’t have children during my Glamour/Real Simple era, but my mentors did, and I feel confident they would have respected my need to duck out early for a dance recital.

From Afar:
There are so many! The joy and whimsy present in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, really resonated with me. We’re so disconnected these days, and her brand of infusing joy into everyday situations is needed now more than ever. (You likely also know her for a moving piece she wrote for the New York Times just before she passed away: “You May Want to Marry My Husband”).

I also still find endless inspiration in the “playful and curious” brand Kate Spade created—the colour, the styling, the voice, the lack of pretension…
As far as design goes, Rita Konig is an all-time favorite. I suspect I was an eccentric Brit in my last life, and I love her effortlessly layered aesthetic. I’m also eager to rent her farmhouse!

And, of course, Annie Sloan! I’ve long admired Annie from afar, but recently had the chance to spend time with Annie and some of her team in Round Top, Texas. Besides being incredibly talented and passionate about their work, they were all absolutely lovely humans. And I love how Annie has protected the integrity and authenticity of her now-massive brand.

Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you’ve had in business?

That’s a hard one! I think seeing Hearst expand its footprint in Birmingham, Alabama has been really rewarding. There’s a lot of creative talent beyond the New York bubble, and I think it’s useful—particularly for a brand like Country Living—to be able to exist outside the island of Manhattan. I realize Alabama does not always get the best press (often deservedly), but I’ve found Birmingham to be a beautiful place to live—and I’m surrounded by open-minded individuals who have moved here from all over and want to change the state for the better.

Question 5)
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?

Be curious. You can teach most things, but nothing rivals a raw enthusiasm for the content, and an eagerness to learn. And you can even convey that enthusiasm on paper. I recently received a resume that came delivered in a hand-painted blue gingham envelope featuring playful hand-lettering and a colour-coordinated mix of blue vintage postage. It was clear—from just an envelope!—that she got the brand and was willing to do the work. (I’m still hoping to hire her.)

Find gold in the grunt work. In my early days as an Editorial Assistant, I spent a huge chunk of time making photocopies of manuscripts. But for every copy I made for a boss (and at the time, I had four of them!), I made another copy for myself and studied all of the edits and scribbles and markings on the stories. Why were they asking for certain changes? Where did the writer need more detail? It’s how I learned how to edit.

Here are two other useful bits of advice that I’ve found helpful;

Remember that sometimes there are multiple right answers. I tend to obsess over making the “right” call in both my career and personal (mostly parenting!) life, but sometimes there isn’t one right answer, and it’s better to choose one and proceed confidently as opposed to wasting too much time in the deliberation.

Stay above the water line. This goes hand-in-hand with the above, to some degree. As editor-in-chief, in addition to getting a magazine out the door, I’m the point person for licensing, books, marketing, sales, subscriptions, events, PR, and, of course, employees and readers. The influx of demands can get to be a lot, so I have to consciously remind myself to keep my head above water as opposed to getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty. A mentor once said to me, “If you can leave the office at the end of the day and know you did one good ‘big picture’ thing for the brand, you can consider it a good day.” I try to remember that.

Question 6)
And finally, if you were a Chalk Paint colour, which would you be and why?

As the editor of Country Living, I think I’ve gotta go with a blue or green—something inspired by the outdoors! I’m torn between Giverny and Florence although the introvert in me says go with the Svenska Blue. But hey, if we’re talking empowerment, let’s go with something bolder, like Giverny.



2 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020: interview with Elsa Koppasi


Question 1)
Tell us a bit about yourself – what is your name and your business?

My name is Elsa Koppasi , I am Greek and my business is called Woodpicker and is located in the centre of Athens. I was 50 by the time I started working with Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. At the time I was practising as a psychotherapist - I still do three days a week - and as my kids had all grown out of the house I thought, “what a good idea to open a small shop and paint”. One thing led to another and I soon became a distributor along with my eldest son. Now we have a network of almost 50 stockists in Greece and the Balkan states. 

Question 2)

How did you come to create this business?

The reason I opened the shop was the fact that my kids grew and I was left with all these endless hours. Mums can feel left a little lost when they do not have to run around for ballet lessons, basketball or tennis, English lessons or parties here and there as taxi drivers. Time was there and I was still young. So I decided to make my hobby into a business.



Question 3)
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career?

All women are an inspiration as multitasking human beings. There were a lot of women in my life that inspired me both in my work as a psychotherapist or answered my philosophical questions in life. Just to name few, I always go back to the works of Alice Miller who wrote about the trauma in her 'Prisoners of Childhood' or Hannah Arendt a philosopher who left us this masterpiece titled "The Life of the Mind" and I could go on and on name poets or painters or singers who are partly responsible for who I became. Annie Sloan herself was an inspiration for me and played a major role in my decision to open my shop and work with the paint, mainly because of her way of selling her products. The no-competitive (no undercutting, support one another) ethos among her stockists and her amazing stamina in dealing with every little detail just spoke to my heart.

Question 4)
What was the single proudest moment you’ve had in business?

When along with my stockists we voluntarily painted the bookshelves of the new "Bookstore for the Homeless" and we made the place look lovely. It was the idea of a homeless person who lost everything during the Greek crisis and started by collecting books here and there and managed to inspire people with his dream to create this bookstore. The money he makes goes to support people in need. 

Question 5)
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?

Believe you can do it. Work hard. Inspire others. Create a community.

Question 6)
And finally, if you were a Chalk Paint colour, which would you be and why?

I love Greek Blue. It is the colour of my sea, my sky, and my childhood on Greek islands.


29 January 2020

Welcome to my latest Painter in Residence, Chloe Kempster of Maisie's House

Chloe Kempster is the Chalk Paint® maestro behind Maisie’s House. Chloe is a UK based furniture painter who I first discovered through her stunning Instagram account, where she shares regular updates of her experiments in style and colour.


Chloe’s signature look is hard to pin down; always beautiful, always innovative, and always original this is a painter who isn’t afraid to explore new avenues, channel unusual inspiration and have fun! That said, I can recognise a Maisie’s House piece from fifty yards – something in the flair, the expert execution of an idea, and the artistry is just so immediately recognisable as Chloe’s work. As well as being a stalwart in the furniture painting scene, Chloe has also leant her talents to BBC1s Money for Nothing demonstrating how easily Chalk Paint® can be used to upgrade your furniture and your home. An inspiring lady indeed.


Maisie’s House is named after Chloe’s grandmother, Nannie Maisie. Chloe fondly remembers Nannie Maisie’s bright yellow Formica kitchen, complete with lifesize palm tree mural (bold now but even more impressive when you consider this was the décor she chose for her council flat way back in the 1960s!). This and the eccentric William Morris touches in the parental home enthused a young Chloe with a lifelong passion for interior design. Formative years spent in boldly, joyfully curated interiors is evident in Chloe’s passion for bright colours, playful designs, and witty styling touches.

Similar to myself, Chloe studied Fine Art at University. Her style became more expressive and she embraced pattern, colour and texture over figurative painting. After University she moved into Retail where she nourished her flair for aesthetics and creativity through visual merchandising – a period of study in staging which is evident through her simple, impactful furniture photography.


It was when Chloe and her husband bought their first home, which they renovated themselves due to budget restrictions, that Chloe was really able to explore her gifts. “After starting a family fairly young, we couldn't afford brand new pieces to furnish the place and wanted a unique look so I used to scour auctions, charity shops and antique centres for interesting pieces that I could restore or paint and put my own stamp on. I guess this is where painting furniture really started! Not only was it a great way to save money it also helped me to stay creative. We all know as parents, that sometimes it's hard to find a space for ourselves amongst all the chaos but painting has certainly done that for me.”


Maisie’s House is the result of Chloe realising, retaining and nurturing that creative spark of hers. Her painting style produces functional art, through a myriad of different paint techniques, expert use of colour, and an empathy for the furniture she is upcycling. Not afraid to restore and refresh unloved furniture from any era, Maisie’s House designs are notable for the way each makeover complements the innate character of the furniture in a way which is modern, painterly, expressive and endlessly gorgeous to look at. Chloe loves bringing new life to old furniture (which she values as usually being better made than flat pack quick fix options) not only because of the creative process itself but because in bringing something old new life she feels as though she is “holding hands with the planet”.

When I spoke to Maisie’s House about becoming a Painter in Residence and sharing her enthusiasm, her talent, and her incredible imagination for new looks for old pieces she was so quick to agree, “every time I use a brush I feel like a little bit of Chloe is coming out into the world and I would hope to inspire others to pick up a paintbrush and do the same. Art is more of a journey rather than a final destination and there is no right answer, best just to try it and see where it takes you!”


I can’t wait to see where this Painter in Residence journey takes us all and what one-of-a-kind pieces we see on the way. Stay tuned!

Yours,


Annie.