How an Industry Innovator Made DIY Home Improvement More Accessible with a True All-in-One Paint
August 01, 2019 (PRLEAP.COM) Business NewsHiring a professional painter for a kitchen cabinet makeover can easily cost a couple of thousand dollars, with variables like kitchen size, cabinet finish, paint quality, and neighborhood impacting the final bill. And yet even with that price tag, it's one of the more affordable projects to update the look of a room, which may be why it's such a popular go-to for homeowners.
To reduce costs, many families are interested in turning a kitchen cabinet refresh into a DIY project. A search on Pinterest for a phrase like "painting kitchen cabinets DIY" yields thousands of results about how to tackle this task without an expert. But while the job doesn't necessarily require a home-improvement professional, it can still be quite the undertaking.
Typically, the process of painting cabinets includes disassembling, cleaning, sanding, priming, painting, sanding again, applying multiple layers of top coat, and re-assembling. These steps can end up taking a week or more once multiple coats of primer, paint, and top coat are factored in. The instructions for achieving a professional-looking finish can also be tedious and complex to an untrained painter. Common mistakes—from drips to pooling to visible brush strokes—can leave ambitious DIYers filled with regret.
Disrupting an Industry with the Power of Social Media
When Paula Blankenship, who's now the Creative Director of Heirloom Traditions Paint, first started creating and selling paints, she wanted to find an easier method for DIY novice painters to update their homes and furnishings on a budget. A commercial interior designer working in high-rise and luxury residential spaces in New York City and along the East Coast for 30 years, she headed to Louisville, Kentucky in 2008 as a single mother with her teenage son for a fresh start.
Prior to becoming a designer, Blankenship and her sister, Sherry Lambert, grew up working in their parents' furniture stores in Oneida, Tennessee. Here, she learned the value of a customer-centric buying experience and delivering a high-quality product. The sisters eventually refreshed and expanded their parents' stores into furniture, floor covering, and paint retailers that are still operating in Oneida today.
By 2013, Blankenship had stepped away completely from the commercial design industry to focus on her ecommerce paint business. She specialized in chalk-style paint for furniture that provided high coverage with an ultra-matte finish—an aesthetic that was beautiful and starting to crop up as a popular home design trend. Initially, she set up an online store and ran the business from her kitchen. Each day after school, her son would help her package and ship orders.
Before long, she'd leveraged the power of social media to her advantage, using Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon to drive sales. But while plenty of Blankenship's achievements can be credited to her understanding of the digital sales landscape, the most important feature of her success is that she created a great product—a line of All-In-One paints—that does exactly what she says it will.
The business, which eventually became Heirloom Traditions Paint, grew as fast as Blankenship could keep up, and before long she was in her own warehouse in Louisville. Within a year, the demand for her All-In-One Paint had grown tremendously, and today it's sold in major home improvement retailers and online. From the beginning, there was a clear and persistent demand for stylish paint colors created by someone with an eye for design, but Blankenship was struck by how complex the painting process was for users who weren't professionally trained painters.
"Everyone was after this particular matte aesthetic that chalk paint provides," Blankenship explains, "But traditional chalk paint requires so many steps and different products to achieve the low-luster aesthetic. We set out to create something that was genuinely easy for anyone to be able to use: Just clean and paint. That's it."
Products that Bring Pinterest to Life
Heirloom Traditions' line of All-In-One paints was born out of market necessity. Blankenship reflected on her time in New York and the commercial design projects she'd worked on, as well as the early days of her career when she helped run her parents' retail stores. She returned again and again to the idea of ease and accessibility. "Everyone deserves to have beautiful stuff," she explains, "no matter what skill level they might have in the DIY arena." If a product wasn't available to help consumers get the look they were really after in a way that was simple to use, then Blankenship decided she'd just have to make it herself.
She set to work with her team, and in 2015 they launched their Heritage Collection of All-In-One Paint. They created a streamlined DIY product line, which included paint in one of 12 colors (a mix of classic favorites and trending tints), a brush, and instructions. "We created a no-fail paint system," Blankenship says. "We designed a paint that included the wax, bonding primer, paint, and top coat all in one product, and it self-levels so there's no need to sand between coats. We made something that's affordable and easy enough to use that anyone can go out and buy this to repaint their cabinets or a piece of furniture in a weekend."
When Blankenship wanted to further improve the look of her self-leveling paint, she developed The True Applicator, a tool that fully eliminates brush strokes and gives the finished product a sprayed-on look without the hassle and mess of a sprayer. "I'm always looking for ways to innovate in the DIY paint space and give every user the best possible outcome," Blankenship says. "This tool was inexpensive and a game changer for the DIY weekend warrior."
What further sets apart Heirloom Traditions' All-In-One Paint is the ability to use the paint on both interior and exterior surfaces without the need for a top coat. "You can paint your front door with our product, and it will look professionally done," Blankenship explains.
Heirloom Traditions has continued to expand their line and color choices, offering a range of products for DIY projects. "It's exciting to see what people are creating when they aren't held back by a complicated painting process," Blankenship says. "Our users send us pictures of their cabinets or their furniture projects and it's inspiring to see. They feel so empowered now to transform their home into something they love, and we helped facilitate that. It's really something special."
To learn more about Heirloom Traditions Paint or see their full product line, visit HTpaint.com.