Nicole Gibbons has been carefully planning the launch of her business for the past decade now — making sure each career step taken along the way would bolster her future and embolden her expertise. With a resounding debut last month, it’s easy to assume her new paint brand, Clare, is an overnight success; but the meticulous variables around building a paint company and the capital needed to do so confirm Nicole’s path to founding Clare was anything but.
Nicole‘s experience is a perfect melange of all the tools needed to arrive at this point: she spent nearly a decade as Global Director of PR and Events for Victoria’s Secret, and thus refining skills needed to best package and sell a product through various channels. While working that job she planned and eventually made her transition into interior design, where she brought her expertise to platforms like HGTV, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, TLC, and in publications like Elle Decor and Better Homes & Gardens. Always championing her grasp of color and its power to change a space, Nicole was also gathering intel from her clients and friends — she listened to their design pitfalls, their paint snafus, and their frustration with an over-saturated paint industry. “To be successful as an entrepreneur you have to be comfortable taking risks, because you never truly know how things will pan out, and for me, it’s always been about calculated risks,” she tells us.
Nicole raised $2 million in about two months, and drew inspiration from business models similar to Warby Parker and Casper. “I was inspired by how they built their business,” Nicole says. “I love how they created a fresh new model for selling a product in categories that have seen little innovation, and how they took a miserable customer journey and created a much better experience for their customers.” She founded Clare (from the Latin word “clarus,” meaning “clear, bright, shining and brilliant to the sight”) to simplify the paint-buying process in a modern world. No, we don’t need to throw 10 globs of paint onto our wall to figure out what color to buy, trek back to the store, order a bigger can of the color we want, and lug it back home. Clare, much like the Warby Parker model, sends customers peel-and-stick paint swatches that can be stuck to your wall to determine your best color and are easy to remove. If you can’t even arrive to that point on your own because you’re so stuck on color, Clare’s Color Genius technology will ask you a series of questions about your paint project to help you arrive at the right hue. This idea, along with a curated 55-color palette of paints to choose from (and painting tools), comes from Nicole’s tried and true experience in the design world.
“I noticed how those who had help from a friend who was a designer or who were fortunate enough to hire one, never really had a big issue [with painting],” she beings. “But those who were left to figure it out on their own really struggled with picking a paint color and had a miserable experience. People would share horror stories of how they took a gazillion trips back and forth to Home Depot, tested a bunch of colors and often still hated the outcome. And eventually I had the lightbulb moment… shopping for paint sucks!”
Today we’re thrilled to be speaking with Nicole about her journey to founding Clare, the lessons she’s learned along the way, naming her gorgeous line of paint colors, and more. —Kelli
All photography courtesy of Clare
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