On April 27, 2012, I announced to the world (well, to my blog readers), that I would be launching my very own line of milk paint. That makes this Saturday, April 27, 2019, the official 7th birthday of the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint line! And we’re celebrating with a walk down memory lane and presents! We’re running giveaways on the MMSMP Instagram and MMSMP Facebook pages and we’re running a giveaway on this post, too!
When I introduced the line in that post, I introduced it as my “pie-in-the-sky-dream-come-true”. Having my own line seemed so outrageous and out of reach. But, I had this idea of giving milk paint, a paint I had come to love for furniture, a fresh face. It needed to be freed from the paper bags, colonial color palette, and the dusty shelves of antique malls. It’s an amazing and unique product and someone needed to give it the attention it deserved. I really had no idea that someone would be me, but the doors opened, I took a deep breath, pitched the idea, and the answer was actually yes.
In that initial post, this is how I presented the idea to my blog audience…
“I’m working on developing the line of 12 colors right now. It’s been fun selecting colors I like to use on my furniture and picking names for them. I’m stuck on naming a couple of the colors, so I’ll probably have a “name that color” contest soon to get some help. I’m also working with Reni and Laura on the labels and packaging for the paint, which has been such a great process so far. The paint will be sold in my space at Lucketts and also online. It’s in a powder form, so it’s easy and inexpensive to ship. I’ll be setting up an online shop soon, to sell the paint, t-shirts and some of my finds and creations. My parents are moving here in a couple of months and my dad is going to help me with managing the online shop and all of the shipping. I’ll also have short video tutorials on my blog, showing how to use the milk paint. I’ll hold your hand through everything from mixing the paint, using washing techniques, distressing, creating custom colors, and more. Crazy exciting, right?!?”
This is the board I used to test out my initial color mixes! The cool thing is I already had an established palette in my head and it was just a matter of creating it, so I could communicate it to others.
Reading the words I initially posted made me smile. What I wrote felt huge to me at the time, but in hindsight, I see how small those ideas really were. My actual plan was that my family and I would pack and ship the paint from my unfinished 1940’s basement. And I had saved about $5,000 to pay for the upfront investment. I felt prepared and ready to launch my little line.
I wish, oh how I wish, the comments on many of my old posts (including that one) weren’t lost in platform moves and updates that have happened over the years! I remember several readers predicting this was going to be my big idea. One even said it would be my “million dollar idea”. I accepted the compliments and enthusiasm and went about moving my small plans forward.
Meanwhile, my inbox started filling with inquiries from shop owners who wanted to carry my paints in their store. I remember thinking that was a little bigger than my initial plan and I hadn’t even thought of how to do that, but sure! I can make that work. My optimism about my capacity to handle retailers carrying my paint disintegrated as a trickle of inquiries turned into a flood. I had 50 retailers ready to invest in my paint…and I didn’t even have a logo or color palette, yet! And my $5,000 capital was peanuts in comparison to the actual costs. It was going to cost $5,000 just for one component of the packaging to support that kind of launch, not to mention the rest of the packaging, the raw materials, etc. And I didn’t have a warehouse and I knew nothing about logistics at this level.
I was reduced to a mound of tears. I can’t do this. It’s too big. It’s not what I planned. I am so out of my depth.
Fortunately, Homestead House could see the potential. They stepped in offered to be the distributor as well as the manufacturer. They also allowed me to pay for all of the start-up costs out of my profits from the initial orders.
And so the journey started. I navigated my way through packaging, labeling, branding, developing a color palette, managing retailers, and experiencing a real-life crash course on launching a product line.
(This was the original line of 12 colors on our color card.)
For the original packaging, I was stuck on using a box. I wanted it to feel like customers were opening a present. So, this was the very first packaging for the line…
I still love it to this day.
The expense and impracticality of it became evident shortly after our launch. We had to have stickers printed individually for each box. In addition, the process was – put the paint in a bag, seal the bag, put a sticker on the bag, put craft fill in the box, put an instruction card in the box, put the paint in the box, put the sticker on the box, close and seal the box.
We switched to – put the paint in the bag, seal the bag.
It was a compromise and a win as well as a lesson in minimizing labor and lowering volume shipping costs.
Since our launch, we’ve added colors and retired colors. Our palette has grown from 12 to 25.
We created and self-published two look books.
Our branding and packaging has gone through updates and revamps…
We have made several commercials, including my two favorite – “The Yellow Dress & the Dresser”
…and “Prove Yourself Wrong”…
I’ve also made dozens of video tutorials and our retailers have taught thousands of workshops all over the world. I personally have taught workshops in Canada, Italy, and from California to New Hampshire, and several places in between.
And I have painted so many pieces of furniture that I’ve lost count. It’s probably at least 1,000 pieces.
This paint line has been one of the biggest surprises in my business. It started out with a passion for painting furniture and it grew into a brand that exceeded all of my expectations.
So, I need to say a huge thank you. Thank you to everyone who joined me on this journey and made it successful. Thank you to everyone who invested in this line, who purchased it, who attended a workshop, who watched a tutorial, and who gave this quirky powdered paint a chance.
And I need to say a big thank you to the team who helps me manage the line – Wendy, Heidi, Jenn, and Chris. You are all awesome and make all of this possible.
And, it wouldn’t be a proper birthday party without presents, so I’m offering up an awesome present to one reader. We are giving away a prize package of seven products from our line. The winner can pick seven quarts of paint or mix and match products. (For example – two quarts of paint, a Furniture Wax, a Zinc Wax, Hemp Oil, Bonding Agent, and a brush.) You get the idea. It’s the winner’s choice.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post. If you do have a “milk paint memory” to share, I would love to hear it, otherwise, let me know which colors or products you’d like to try. The giveaway is open worldwide and will close Sunday, April 28, 2019, at midnight PST.