With blazing heat this Fourth, sharks, flesh eating bacteria in our water ways - the only logical thing to do is shop...
Well, at least for us, we plan to be open until 2pm Saturday (we have kids now and couldn't go anywhere anyway lolz)
flags are waving
And...I'm so proud to announce our very own blend of chalk paint! After the terrible hullabaloo over Country Chic Paint -- this achievement of creating my own brand, Cottage Nest Paint, and frankly a better paint, has meant everything (so, at least I thank them for that). Our first release is Cotton, a bright & clean white. I will move this online once I have the other colors fully developed, but for now we are more than happy to help you purchase it at the shop.
For less than six months, I've been a retailer of Country Chic Paint, a paint similar to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It's been a gargantuan effort on my part to promote and move the brand and also use it and educate myself, for my customers. Unfortunately, Country Chic Paint changed the game, again, and already wary of them, I had to walk away. So, I'm sharing my experience for other retailers and consumers of their product...I'm not going to tell you yea or nea, just an honest account of what I went through and you can make up your mind (because I sincerely wish someone had done this for me.)
Near Christmas last year, I found a couple blogs raving about this new chalk paint...and honestly, look at the cans - it's packaged so smartly. I called and immediately ordered (and paid for) a retail tester kit. As I was heavily pregnant with my twins, it took me a few weeks, but I painted their nursery armoire in Pebble Beach that I received in the kit. It performed well (not one coat, but two with no problem), I used the white wax - it was harder than I was used to but adequate and the finish to this day is pretty tough.
It was a sizable investment as they structure their vendors in three tiers; I committed to the second tier as I was ambitious and wanted to offer competitive discounting with similar brands. I ordered for product to arrive in mid January; I unboxed and shelved something like 100 cans of paint a week before I delivered my twins. I was crazy motivated I tell you and the phone was ringing off the hook for chalk paint, any chalk paint.
We sold paint nearly everyday for a month; I reordered and we began selling it once or twice a week. Now its super rare if anyone buys it. About the same time, one month after my initial order, they discontinue four colors I had stocked at the regular wholesale price. They must of known they were slated to be discontinued and could of at least told me and passed on a discount. They also rolled out a new line of finishes and paint colors - I asked twice for pricing and selling information and to this day, I have received (1) new paint card in the mail. So I was a bit miffed.
With sales creeping along in store, I turned to my Etsy shop. So far, it's winning over the brick and mortar...plus I've been able to unload some of the discontinued colors. This is where our story turns. Late last week an email drops in my box with no explanation - new retailer terms. I remember reading Annie Sloan's terms a couple years ago and this was pages longer and more limiting...at least with Annie Sloan...you get Annie Sloan. Bottom line, you can't discount under 15%, territorial commitments are staggering, and you can't sell on Etsy (the only place this is moving). I voiced my issues; they responded that they were real sorry and immediately dropped me from the store finder on the website. Buh bye.
So moving on...I'm already bringing in a wax I used before CCP and it out performs them at half the price. I'm vetting a few paint vendors, of course, all my money is tied up in this product...but I'm only entertaining vendors than actually see the value in my business and experience. Most of these companies, including Country Chic Paint, haven't even been in business as long as me - I think I'm due a little respect and perhaps a thank you. We are also looking into producing our own line of paint - this actually makes me the most excited.
So retailers, here's what you need to know if you're considering carrying Country Chic Paint:
all customers want Annie Sloan - 1/2 will buy any brand, the other will go find Annie Sloan.
everyone only wants white and gray - occasionally, if you sell a color, its in a sample size
try to order only their colors in the white base (I'll explain in more detail)
know that you can't sell on any online market place.
know that you won't be able to beat their prices or sales online.
Also, unless you are selling paint like a Benjamin Moore all day, every day - you will not be able to protect your territory. Seriously, I did the math and no small boutique can do it.
And, they are likely to discontinue colors and change terms quite often.
So, what if you're a consumer and you are considering buying this product. It's not bad - I swear! I've used it a lot and now I'm using it daily to just get rid of it. There are somethings you should be aware of and I going to share my most recent project as I think it captures this perfectly.
I chose to paint my front door and give it a little pop from the street. Here's Luscious Lime - it's pretty obnoxious but looks nice toned down with the antiquing wax. The door had been sanded and cleaned - I always prep even tho the can says you do not have to...I think it makes all the difference. This product markets itself as a one coat product and it definitely is not (neither is Annie Sloan). Unless you like a heavily distressed look, you are going to be painting a couple times (that's just how paint is). I've noticed something about Country Chic Paint; coverage depends on the base they use - there are three, white, neutral and deep tone. The sample they first sent me, the one I based this huge investment on was Pebble Beach using their white base; but most of the line is in the medium base. Luscious Lime is made with this base and it took three coats to get a good even application...honestly, I could of gone with another but antiquing wax hides a multitude of sins.
The other issue I'm encountering is peeling. Something I did not see with my first foray in December - January with the low humidity. Unfortunately, it's always humid this far South...I waited awhile and when I applied the wax with the Country Chic wax brush -- the paint came right off! I used a soft rag after that but the finish still seems quite delicate and we'll probably use a harder commercial finish after it ages a little more.
Bottom line, if you plan to use the paint - order enough for multiple coats. Plan your time accordingly for multiple coats. Pick a time that humidity is low (if you can). Give your project a longer drying time than recommended before waxing. I'm no fan of the waxes from CCP, so choose one that works for you.
If you've used Country Chic Paint and/or are a vendor, I would love some feedback - positive or negative. Also, if you have your own favorite brand of Chalk type Paint - I am all ears...
Goodness! This pattern has been a long time coming! A pre-pregnancy design that some how I left behind during pregnancy and now 4 months post-baby - it's done! It's actually very fitting, our home is complete and both our sweet twins are now home from the NICU. I really loved designing this pattern and think it's perfect for homecomings, weddings, and new beginnings. I now have it available for immediate download from these sources:
Two days before my actual due date, we got the call from the NICU to "room in" with our son. It had been a typical Saturday at the shop until that call - we closed as quick as we could, car seat in one hand and diaper bag in the other, we sprinted to those NICU double doors. We still are waiting on our little girl to complete our family, but this little guy is giving us lots of practice and has already worked with me two days at the shop.
I also committed to a fuchsia while navigating being a new mom. They notoriously do poorly in our hot Louisiana...but its so pretty.
That same morning, I bought the fuchsia...then got the call, I fortuitously saw this beautiful painted bunting. The first time I saw one, last year, I was deciding that I wanted to be a mom.
So work with a newborn is still happening, but at a much slower pace and that's ok. This is one of the new pretty aged papers I received last week. I've only photographed and listed this one and that seemed to be a pretty huge achievement for the week.
Today is the first day all week that we've had a bit of a break from an onslaught of heavy rains or April showers. And you know what they say...April showers brings May flowers (at this point, perhaps an ark, too). Let's hope this is true because we just opened a beautiful new line of heirloom seeds in our shop.
This this is why I love what I do. Sometime in 2013 when we traveled to the Atlanta market, we took a side trip to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. In their well-curated gift shop, I found Hudson Valley Seeds. I bought a package, one of their Art Packs - a commission design enveloping their lovely seeds. Funny that I went all the way to market and found this gem elsewhere.
Of course its two years later...life happens. But the idea of little package stayed with me and I even bought some seeds from their retail site. This year I convinced myself that perhaps its not just me; that maybe my customers would be enamored with these seeds too.
So here we are! Hudson Valley Seed Library allowed me to custom my order to seeds just right for my area and I should say -- I picked many easy to grow varieties for the budding gardener. Nasturtiums, zinnias, sunflowers (staples of my garden always) and organic herbs which includes a nice basil medley, oregano, and catnip (cat lady representin').
I've kept back a few packs and through the raindrops, I've been directly sowing them to bring on those May flowers and test what I do indeed like. In the shop, its already been immensely fun as I love talking about these little seeds. I just had a conversation with an eight year old today about Milkweed and the benefits to our monarch population. She was sold! I've also listed these on our website, take look yourself and see what you can sow!
some pictures in this post are courtesy of Hudson Valley Seed Library
Come and gone was this weekend's Strawberry Festival...a mix of tourists drunk on strawberry daiquiris, hipsters from New Orleans buying armloads of strawberry flats, and wide-eyed children dragging their parents one-armed to the carnival rides.
We hang back. Hoping people are nice and they don't barf in our planters. By that account, this year was a success!
Our dear friend, Mary, opened her very own shop next door to us Saturday during the festival. This cowgirl was one of her first customers...oh she was something else!
I was a bit more focused on this crowd. Every year in front of my store, Southeastern lubber grasshoppers hatch. They become huge, ominous black looking things...but they eat mosquitoes and that alone is one great reason to encourage them. The bebes are miniature versions of their future adult selves...and with anything miniature, I'm always in wonderment. They all hopped into the plants away from the constant procession of street feet, gobs of them...and not a soul noticed even with the throngs of people pushing down the street to the festival.
And a couple new introductions in the shop before the Fest. I found through Etsy Wholesale a new soap line: Three Sisters Cauldron. I absolutely love the packaging and it smells wonderful...I'm ready for some product testing STAT! I'll be adding these pretties to the bath section of our main website very soon.
Now the rain is washing over us for a few days; April showers, right? But it's brought in this bright blue guy...an indigo bunting. Always a thrill to see them and this year they are playing in the rain puddles non-stop. So, while they have fun in the drops, I'll carry on inside where it's dry and there's plenty to do.
Ahhhh...this is such a nice time of year in Louisiana. That brief moment when both wisteria and azaleas bloom in concert, with vibrant pinks and purples that just have to be experienced in person because you just never can capture their colors truly on film. I feel we've missed out on it a bit as we've been running back and forth to see our twins in the NICU (8 weeks this week!). We did get our blue bird box up...chickadees have moved in. Hummingbirds are back and this guy, the blue-headed vireo is probably saying his goodbyes as he travels north.
Something wonderful happened...I was gifted quite a bit of beautiful merchandise from one my favorite craft vendors. These lovely wooden thread organizers for embroidery and cross stitch. Too too many for just me to squirrel away.
My favorite...the owl! The mustache is a close second.
and then these miniature travel sized fob thread organizers - gah! This is to launch their new Belle Epoque line and to get it into shops to test the new designs. Here's how I lucked out, the contest gave three obscure clues and through this rare blend of smarts and my Art History minor (it did pay off!) I looked up from the computer screen, scratched my head and said "Belle Epoque" Oui, oui!
Honestly, this is more than I'll ever use and I'll help them test out the new line by slowing adding it to my Etsy shop by next week.
Speaking of cross stitch, if you are an enthusiast like myself, but with better time management skills you might be interested in joining the Bust Magazine and Subversive Cross Stitch Stitchalong featuring a darling pattern with the Broad City ladies! This is a perfect starting place for newbies and seasons one and two of Broad City are now on Hulu...treat yo' self!