Can you tell us about your background?
I’m trying to think where to start! I used to work for the Northumberland Gazette but I’ve always been a bit of a crafty person. My mum is a local artist, so I think it runs in the family. I moved house and the budget was a little bit tight, so we got furniture from car boot sales and I thought I’d have a go at painting it. That was about five years ago. Then a few friends and family saw what I had done and asked me to do a few bits for them, and it grew from there really. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m not bad at doing this!’
What made you then think of creating your own brand of paint?
I did go through quite a few different brands on the market, but not one paint that I used ticked all the boxes. I always thought, ‘This one could do with this, or this one could do with that’. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t I try making my own?’ I could create a bespoke paint just how I’d like it.
How do you create the paints?
We worked with a local paint company, and I gave them a tailor-made recipe list of what I would like in the paint, and how I wanted the paint to perform. It’s taken a whole year in the process, as we started in January 2014, and it meant sitting down there in the paint lab until we got the recipe right. We would bring various sorts of samples back and put them through a huge trial – leaving the paint in sunlight to dry, leaving it overnight in the frost and artificially drying it with hair dryers. It was just backwards and forwards until the recipe was just right.
What were the key things you wanted the recipe to have?
There’s quite a lot of competition out there, and my paint had to have something that different brands didn’t offer, so our unique selling point is that our paint doesn’t need any furniture wax on top of it. So, you can basically use the paint, and that’s it, there’s nothing else to do afterwards. It also had to be easy to use for beginners, because even though the painted furniture trend has been mainstream for a good few years, we have beginners learning to paint every day who have never even actually picked up a paintbrush. It had to be child safe, so expecting mums and people with young families could use it safely in the knowledge that it didn’t contain any toxins. I also wanted it to have a fast drying time as I’m quite impatient and like things done yesterday!
Was coming up with the paint colours a lot of fun?
It was brilliant and I really enjoyed it. We’ve got 20 colours in the range, and I really enjoyed naming them all as well. I’m from Amble, born and bred, and I wanted to give something back to the community, so I’ve tried to keep a lot of the names localised. We’ve got a gorgeous blue in the range called Amble Sea, and we’ve also got a pink in the range called Duchess, which is named after the Duchess of Northumberland.
What’s your day-to-day like?
I’m a mum of four children, and my partner has two children, so between us we have six kids. My day-to-day is getting up, making all the packed lunches, getting PE kits and uniforms ready, then frantically doing the school run. I’ll come into work, pick up all the messages, sell the paint from the shop, then clock off at five to three to go back and do the school run, before heading home to make the tea. Then it all starts again the next day. So it’s absolutely hectic but I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you think you’ve faced any challenges in setting up Everlong?
It’s been a hard process, not just coming up with the recipe for the paint, but there were a lot of legalities, branding and marketing to think about, so it’s taken over a year to get it out on the shelves. We did a lot of trials and market research to see if it was something that people would actually buy.
What made you come up with the name Everlong Paint?
When we started doing the furniture we thought we needed a name for the business that incorporated how the furniture was going to last, so we thought of Everlong. Also, one of my favourite bands is The Foo Fighters and one of my favourite songs by them is called Everlong, so it tied in quite nicely!
What are you most proud of?
Bringing out my own brand of paint. Currently we have 35 stockists in the UK and Northern Ireland. I don’t think it has hit home yet. I’m still in awe from how people have welcomed and are promoting this product.
And you also host paint classes?
I took it upon myself two years ago when I opened up my shop to run free paint classes. All my competitors charge up to £85 for a paint class, but I didn’t want to segregate anybody from learning a new skill. So I launched these free workshops and in just over two years I have taught over 1,000 people how to paint for free. Now, it’s compulsory for every single stockist of Everlong Paint to offer free paint classes. It’s fab. It’s brilliant for communities. People can bring along their own furniture, use our product, and create something they’re proud of and then leave without having to spend any money at all. It’s like a coffee morning but with paint included!
Can you believe how quickly the brand has grown?
No, this time last year I had a little vintage shop and a barn conversion and was painting furniture for other people and teaching them how to paint. Now when I come into work it’s unbelievable. Our paint was released on the 20th February, and we had 35 stockists and Everlong Ireland distribution in three weeks. It’s still quite surreal.
Founder of Everlong Paint