A Day With Frenchic Paint: Bloggers & Press Day
Last year, I did a blog interview with the upcycling genius that is Max McMurdo. Max is dedicated to the reuse and recycling of products and his enthusiasm for creating something out of nothing is contagious and inspirational. Whilst interviewing Max, he introduced me to Frenchic Paint, a company for whom he is Brand Ambassador. Frenchic has only been around for a few years but they've hit the furniture paint world running. Their paint has several features that make it stand out from the crowd. It contains no toxics, solvents or VOC's and is completely odourless, perfect for the upcycling industry which holds sustainability at it's heart.
Last week I was invited to an event with Pam Gruhn, the owner, at a Frenchic Blogger & Press Day held at the private venue, Six Storey's, in Soho. I'd met Pam before at the Ideal Home Exhibition a few months ago and we had immediately hit it off due to our shared interest in upcycling and the idea that furniture is for life, not just for Christmas. Oh, plus we are both VERY good at chatting and are incapable of having even a Messenger conversation that lasts less than half an hour.
I'd arranged to meet prior with Oliver Thomas, finalist of this years Great Interior Design Challenge, and we set off for Soho Square. Both Oliver and I had worked in the area years ago, Oliver in the actual venue, so we did some serious reminiscing (most of my memories involved getting drunk in Zilli's and falling over outside Slap Harry's, but less of that).
We arrived to a prosecco reception and tables filled with paint projects and craft ideas. Frenchic are all over the country, in fact they're all over the world, and they had recruited their top stockists to come and give demonstrations and show the various ways that the paint can be used. Frenchic stockists are expert in paint use and have hugely wide ranging skills that were shown to us in varying projects such as crackling or decoupage. There were plenty of people there who wanted to know a bit more about the product and we all had an opportunity to have a go at using it. It's a ridiculously easy product to put on, I've recently used their new outdoor range, Al Fresco, to paint my outdoor bar area (AKA BBQ pit but it's a pretty good transformation) and it's really easy to apply.
Max McMurdo was there as Brand Ambassador to talk about how he uses Frenchic paint and why he considers it to be such an eco friendly brand. As always, it was fascinating to chat with him about what plans he has going forward and current projects that he's got on the go, all based around the idea of sustainability and upcycling.
Pam's got more followers on Facebook than I've ever seen for an independent business and the Frenchic Fan Forum is a haven for all things Frenchic. It's a community with thousands and thousands of subscribers and there are regular, almost hourly updates from stockists and users of the paint. If you're looking for inspiration or want to revamp or upcycle a piece that needs a bit of love, then the Fan Forum is a must. There's some seriously clever people showing off their talents. As well as promoting sustainability, the Frenchic ethos is all about community and her solid stockist list, whose numbers rise daily all over the world, is testament to that. Pam herself actively promotes her stockists on social media, aware that these platforms are excellent marketing tools, and is hugely supportive of the community that she has created. And the stockists are hugely supportive in return - here's what one new stockist recently sent to Pam:
'Sustainability is at the heart of our upcycling, so the ecofriendliness of Frenchic paint is so important to us at The Old Barnyard Interiors. The compliance with Chemical Testing Requirements (EN 71:3), the absence of toxins, solvents and VOCs, and the odourless nature tick all the boxes for our association with Frenchic products. All of this, plus the 'straight from the tin' consistency are indulgences that set Frenchic apart from the rest. Not to mention the drive of the Frenchic team to make their products a market leader in the field'.
Strong words. With this in mind, I managed to grab Pam for five minutes to have a chat with her about how she started Frenchic and what she's got planned for the future, aside from world domination.
Frenchic is going from strength to strength. How did you decide that you wanted to start your business?
I started Frenchic because as a passionate painter of furniture, I could see that there was a void in the market for a paint that ticked all the boxes – one that didn’t smell, didn’t need constantly stirring or shaking or addition of water, a paint that contained no nasties, that painted with ease and that was safe to use around kiddies and pets. I took delivery in December 2014 with zero stockists and here we are two years later with over 400 independent retailers (Pam has retailers as far afield as Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Australia and America). What I wasn’t expecting to happen was the amazing camaraderie between stockists! Seriously! Everyone helps everyone else – our secret stockist group is testament to that. We’ve really become a community – the same with the Frenchic Fan Forum. Painting should be fun! Communities like these make it even more fun when you can ask for advice or post a pic and get a million likes.
My passion for bringing old furniture back to life rather than see it go to landfill is what inspired my quest to create Frenchic. I REALLY wanted a paint that ticked all the eco-friendly boxes , one that was easy for beginners yet also the choice of professionals. A successful product has to have authenticity and be born of a personal passion. Frenchic has both!
You're a successful woman in business. We like that! Have you come up against any hurdles on your way?
To be totally honest, I haven’t really faced many struggles! I knew that Frenchic was always going to be welcomed into the world of chalk painters and it took off from Day One. The biggest hurdle, I guess, has been to keep totally focused on spreading the Frenchic word and recruiting new stockists. I work pretty much every waking hour so my social life has gone for a burton!
Frenchic is on fire and getting hotter. What advice do you have to offer other entrepreneurs?
When I first launched Frenchic, I wasn’t thinking about huge success or being the biggest and best, I was thinking about creating a paint that was needed in the chalk paint world, a paint that wasn’t there before that simply ticked all the boxes. It was a personal desire that drove me to make this available to likeminded painters and to promote recycling of beautiful old furniture for everyone to paint. With this in mind, I stayed focused and on track with a positive attitude. With those three key ingredients, you’re already on the road to success.
So what's next for Frenchic?
I just want it to be on trend, loadsa fun, etc as I produce eco-friendly products for the modern family. My demographic is mainly women between 25-40 with one or two kiddies who care about what’s in the paint they use. We’re pretty much the only paint company that has ALL the ingredients on the can and ALL my products including my waxes are certified childsafe. The three ranges we have – Original, Lazy with a wax infusion and the Al Fresco - are all flying. Brand in demand – that’s us!