Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint turns 7

Marian ParsonsMiss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, my business story, Running a Business589 Comments

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.

Thank you!

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.

 

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint turns 7

Related Posts

The Creative Exponent

How I Journal

Hand Painted Mora Dresser | Part 2

Hand Painted Mora Dresser | Part 1

589 Comments on “Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint turns 7”

  1. I absolutely love your milk paint; the simplicity and connection to an ancient art, the ease of use, and the dizzying array of application techniques and resulting looks. The colors are fantastic. I’m searching for just the right piece to be the proud wearer of the Kitchen Scale I’ve been hoarding, and have kitchen chairs lined up for a dressing of Schloss.

    Congratulations on your anniversary, and many blessings on your future chapters. Thank you for the creativity, skills and courage you share with all of us. Your story is remarkable…just a hint of what can happen when we let God lead us into becoming the person He created. Cheers to you!

  2. I wish your paint was available here in Palm Springs, California! I have been using chalk style paints and like them. I would love to try milk paint on an old, old sideboard in my dining room and brighten it up! Congrats on the first seven years!

  3. Congratulations on your 7th anniversary, Marian! Dying to try milk paint (especially your blue shades) and your hemp oil!

  4. I’ve used several colors from your line and the hemp oil, which I love! I’d like to try French enamel, Ironstone and Typewriter. Congratulations and happy anniversary!

  5. I loved reading your amazing success story. I’d like to try the Luckett’s green color. I’ve used the hemp oil and love it.

  6. I would love to give “YOUR” milk paint a try since I have painted furniture but never with milk paint. I would love to try the Ironstone color since I associate you with Ironstone. Thanks for the give away. I hope to win!!
    Shawn

  7. Congratulations! I’ve followed your blog since 2011 and felt a connection to you because I live in PA (the southwestern part) and love Gettysburg. I’ve admired your humble, Christian lifestyle and also your hard work ethic, talent and style. You’re my favorite blogger. It’s been wonderful to watch you, your family and business grow, and I look forward to what the future brings for you. Continued blessings!

  8. What you do with milk paint is so inspirational to me! Happy, happy 7th birthday to MMS Milk Paint!!!!!

  9. Thanks for the inspiration you share through your blog. I love reading your posts! I have started some creative practices and they have truly enriched my life. I have experimented with other paints and I would love to try milk paint. A set of waxes, oil, brush, and some Flow Blue paint will make my heart sing. Again, thank you!

  10. Love following your blog. Thank you.
    Am in Australia and would love to try your milk paint and hemp oil.

  11. Marian, you are a true inspiration to people all over the world. Congratulations on your success! Wishing you and Miss Mustard Seed many more years of adventures 🙂

  12. Happy Milk Paint Anniversary! I love milk paint and I really love Hemp Oil. I found a precious little cabinet at the flea market a couple of years ago. But it was in rough shape with good bones. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to paint it and decided that the bottle of Hemp Oil I had sitting in the cabinet needed to come and show me what it could do! I was NOT disappointed one little bit! It turned in to a gorgeous glowing little gem and loved the oil. I have since used it on several of my older pieces that I don’t paint and they love the drink of this wonderful oil. I love your milk paint because it is so natural and goes on with such good coverage. Congratulations on all your success!

  13. Your colors are beautiful and I love your blog. Thanks for taking that big step to launch your wonderful products!

  14. Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

  15. I love your paints and use them exclusively for any furniture painting I do. I have 5 original paint colors and 4 newer ones. I love the softness of the color palette too. Congratulations!

  16. Congratulations, Marian and Miss Mustard Seed! I love this paint line and the accompanying products. My favorite color is Lucketts Green! My house is filled with colors of Grain Sack, Linen, Shutter Gray, Lucketts Green, and I’ve even used Tricycle. I’m excited to try Aviary, Bergere, Layla’s Mint, and Mustard Seed. Thank you for all the inspiration and peace of mind this product line provides. I never thought painting and restoring furniture could be so much fun! Giving old pieces of furniture new life is such a rewarding experience for me and the experience is different with each piece and each color of paint.

  17. Hi, Marian–Congratulations on this momentous occasion! I have been hesitant to try milk paint only because I wasn’t happy with my one venture into chalk paint…but milk paint is not chalk paint, and I would dearly love to try yours! Your palette is so beautiful. Thank you for all your wonderful tutorials, too!

  18. I rather new to your paint, but love Artissimo. And I have a packet of Ironstone just waiting for me to paint a dresser to use as our kitchen island!

    The paint isn’t what keeps me coming to your blog daily though. It’s uplifting, encouraging messages. Thanks for sharing that bit of you! Congratulations on the anniversary!

  19. Happy milk paint birthday! I love your milk paint and have several items in my home painted with it. Probably my favorite is the Tricycle Red china cabinet I have in my laundry room… thought it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve tried a few other brands and am always disappointed. It is so awesome to see how far an idea and a passion can go. God is so good!! Thanks for sharing your ideas and passion and awesome products with all of us.

  20. Just spent yesterday afternoon painting 3 pieces in Farmhouse White, but my favorite color is Lucketts Green! I love your entire paint line and wish you congratulations on your success! It’s been inspiring to watch your journey!

  21. Dream big. Dreams do come true! Congratulations on your anniversary. I am so not crafty yet I have completed several milk paint projects successfully with wonderful results. I also have found many uses for hemp oil since discovering your line. You inspire me so much!

  22. My memory was when you came to Sun Prairie WI. I never thought I would meet you, but I did. You were even nicer in person than expected.
    I know your future is bright.

  23. What a wonderful story! I have an old tiger oak dresser that is dire need of a face lift and was thinking of using milk paint on at least some of it. 🙂

  24. I love your paint and finishing product line. I started buying it when you had the boxes. I kept them and use them for adding height to vignettes when styling our home, and each year wrap a few gift cards at Christmas. Our kids know to keep the boxes and not toss them in the recycle pile with the rest of the wrapping paper.
    Thanks for the fun ride with your products, still love them.

  25. Happy Birthday to Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint!!!
    I missed the chance to win the amazing Birthday prize but wanted to share my favorite memory anyway.

    Aside from using and loving this amazing paint, my favorite memory is from the last spring show at Lucketts that you attended. I had won the bid for a red white and blue striped top you sold, and of course I HAD to wear it to the show.
    As I walked up to you gave me a huge smile and said, “I have that top!”. I followed with, “you had this top”. We both laughed and took pictured together.

    Those pictures are some of my favorites. Thank for for the memory. 🙂

  26. I absolutely love, love, love your paint and colors. It’s so fun to be able to mix my own color! Absolutely a Mustard Seed of Faith into a thriving business. You are fearless!! I would be honored if I win your package!!!! Thank you for this amazing journey

  27. Ive followed you since the beginning and watched you dream your dreams your an inspiration to so many Im 72 and still have 2 stores and kickin in everyday, good luck always keep promoting yourself

  28. I have been reading your blog a long time and remember when you launched your paint line. Hard to believe it has been seven years. You are such an inspiration to me.

  29. I love your blog and your story! I’ve love your milk paint, and I’d like to try the shutter gray!

  30. It would be great to finally use some milk paint on an upcoming project! I have been impressed with many of your pieces, but never actually used the paint.

  31. Happy Anniversary! Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint is such a wonderful product and I believe this line will be going strong for a long time. I have an end table that I would love to see wearing Grain sack. I have loved working with this paint!

  32. I have never tried milk paint but I would love to. I also think the Hemp Oil is very interesting. I have been reading you for awhile and think you do a great job.

  33. I have a project that I plan to use MMS milk paint on, but I’m having trouble selecting a color!

  34. Congratulations on 7 years!! While all of the colors are amazing, my eyes and heart keep coming back to Artissimo. I have just the piece to try this paint on!

  35. Congratulations on all your hard work and successes, Marian!
    – Jeanna and the BroadStreet Publishing team

  36. I just received this post today so im a day late for your giveaway .i subscribe yesterday because ive heard wonderful tthings about your work and paint.id love o try it out

  37. Miss Mustard Seed, congratulations and happy anniversary!
    I love everything about your story, your blog, and the work you do. I still have not gotten around to get my feet wet with your milk paint products (or should I say my brush wet?), but I plan to!
    I hope I win!
    Again, congratulations!

    Christine
    New Hampshire

  38. I usually stick with the off white colors but I would love to try some of the other colors like Tricycle or Curio.

  39. I love your blog Marian! I haven’t tried milk paint but would love too! One of my favorite looks was when you and Kriste used milk paint on her master bedroom wall. I thought that was such a cool look.

  40. Lovyour color palette! And your blog is a daily read- inspiration and common-sense all rollled up ina tidy package

  41. I’ve loved following your journey, and adore your paint – so excited that it’s actually available in Australia. I’d love to try any of the pale blues – they are my ideal romantic shade! xAli

  42. Your colors look organic, which I love! And milk paint is unique in its effects. I am so glad you went for it seven years ago, both for your sake and for all of us who love your paint line! Congratulations on achieving a dream!

    I suspect and hope you will have many successes in your life. You have the courage to try and that’s half the battle right there. And then you persevere and practice and keep trying. Success becomes inevitable, but also less important than the wonderful journey that started with trying. I admire your courage and the amazing talent that it is revealing in you.

  43. Congratulations on 7 years! It’s so amazing to see what God can do if we trust him. You have helped me learn what my style is and that it’s ok to let go of family items that I don’t like plus a lot of other things. I love how you have your own style and you don’t get caught up in fads. You are so talented and level-headed about the things you do. It’s very inspiring!

  44. Oh, Marian – a big big congrats to you!

    I am sitting here grinning till my face hurts for you – and your company – your colors, and your talents are A+++!!!

    I would loooovvvveeee to win anything from your line!

    My milk paint story is years ago I bought green from you – and I got confused cuz I didn’t understand the directions and have a childlike way of ignoring them anyway…….but what I did was add the powder of green into a warm white and custom made that paint. I LOVED it haha – and I sooooo need to get back to redoing furniture – I have quite a few pieces to start or finish. I need to take a good look at your 25 colors now – wow – that’s amazing. Yay to you!!!!

    ps – sorry I am late, have been travelling and unplugged a bit and just catching up.

  45. I know someone has already won but I wanted to add my congratulations. I’ve used your milk paint in several rooms in my fixer upper. It still looks great on all the pieces. I love the new colors too! Building a she shed soon and will have to try some more colors. Congratulations on your little dream idea turning into a successful business! 7 years! WOOHOO

  46. Marian,
    I’m a little late to this post. I have read every, single blog post you have made…albeit sometimes I don’t get to them for a couple of weeks! I have been a customer of your milk paint line from the beginning! I actually still have my boxes from my original purchases and even the paint card. It hangs on my inspiration board in my studio. Just wanted to let you know, you still inspire me, all these years later! I have loved your creative journey and refer to you to my husband as my “online friend, Marian”. Keep up the great work, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!!!

  47. I am a beginner but look forward to watching your videos…again, and learning.
    The hardest part will be deciding WHICH of your beautiful colors to use!

  48. I have not had the pleasure of trying the topcoat sealer or any of the brushes. I have been using your milk paint for a few years now and I am still exploring new custom colours and finishes. The possibilities are endless .

  49. In the planning stages of painting many pieces in my home. Just bought several colors to try out. Would live to try a few more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *