Congratulations to Pammy for creating such a vibrant and growing company.  It’s not only an environmentally sustainable product, it’s a supportive and friendly community to be part of.

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FRENCHIC, the British-made paint brand knocking spots off rivals with eco-friendly formulas for reviving furniture and homes, is looking to turn over £3million next year after securing a new US trade deal.

Selling via its own website and 450 independent retailers, the maker’s chalk and mineral-based products are outpacing industry trends with a 33 per cent annual growth rate, as more consumers convert to upcycling. This is the burgeoning re-use movement dedicated to breathing new life and quality into old items. No toxins, no bad pongs, no need to stir or shake, beautiful colours and certified safe for children, their toys and pets, these were all must-haves on entrepreneur Pam Gruhn’s list when she founded the business three years ago.

It was an auspicious moment. Upcycling was happening, Instagrammable craft transformations growing and Gruhn, an experienced businesswoman with a good eye and strong commercial touch, had long harboured a deep dislike of discarding furniture in landfill and the drab limitations of flatpacks.

However, with no paint fitting the bill and a small £15,000 pension nest-egg she was prepared to wager to get the revolution for hand-me-downs started, she went shopping for a factory that could deliver her and other DIY-ers’ dreams in ways that were profitable for all. The coatings manufacturer she found worked with her on prototypes for a year and today “no-nasties” Frenchic has ranges from its original to easily applied wax-infused Lazy and exterior Al Fresco, as well as special crackles and sheens for furniture, walls and trims, plus a host of brushes and other accessories. “Our paints are both a creative outlet for generation rent and for those who value the past and their heirlooms. Vintage brown furniture is coming back in a different guise,” she says. “Frenchic has improved the range of colours available in chalk paints thanks to a fantastic manufacturer who believed in me. All the elements we feature, such as no toxins and odours have enabled us to get into markets such as young families and nurseries, and reach customers in colder climates really quickly. We’ve developed new tooling for our cans, so they can be held at the same time as someone paints.”

Customers cover a broad canvas, stretching from students to ladies who lunch. “Painting furniture is therapeutic,” explains Gruhn. “And our prices are within reach of most pockets, with one of our pots you can reinvent a uPVC door for £6.95.”

All investment so far has been done in-house. Gruhn and her team of eight work from an extended home-based office in Surrey and she has recently expanded Frenchic’s warehousing capacity.

Greece, Malta and Finland are strong markets, with the products currently sold in 27 countries, including Australia. Bringing more distributors on board will help cement Frenchic’s place as a mainstay in the paint industry, she adds.

A core feature of the business model is the key role of the stockists, independent, high street retailers under constant threat from superstores who Gruhn has championed from the outset.

Everyone warms to the idea of a fresh start and that’s what Frenchic does, Gruhn believes, but there has been one casualty amid all the success. “I pretty much work every waking hour,” she admits. “My social life has gone for a burton.”

frenchicpaint.co.uk

Had a bit of impromptu fun in the shop today when two of my lovely painty lady friends came for a coffee and a catch up.
I decided it would be fun to see what three individuals using the same colour paints, the same methods on three identical wooden love hearts would create and how different they would be. (As usual I forgot to take “before” pics!!!)
The idea was to create a really chippy, chunky, distressed layered look.
We used a combination of Frenchic “Lima”, “ Lipstick”, “Anguilla”, Panther, Easy Crackle and Browning Wax.

Here are the the photos of the different stages and finished hearts.

We also ate chocolate eclairs and almond choux pastry things to such an extent that I’ve not eaten any dinner tonight!!!
Our experiment used very bright contrasting colours but would look great using subtle shades of the same colour hue. We also buffed ours to a high shine in line with something that had an aged patina.
The reverse of the hearts had some raised stencilling which we rubbed back to expose before finishing with the Browning Wax.
Let’s just say that it was a fun thing to try and a good way of learning new techniques!!

This weekend I drove all the way to Selby in Yorkshire to attend a Frenchic furniture painting course run by the fabulous Linda Karslake from Drab to Fab fame.DRAB TO FAB

It reminded me of why it’s so important to do courses. FIND OUR COURSE DATES HERE

It renews and reinvigorates your enthusiasm and you learn so many new techniques and pick up little tips from like minded people.

We arrived on the Friday morning and were shown round Linda’s lovely studio and had the opportunity of getting up close and personal with her work. Yes we see them in photographs on Facebook but it’s not the same as seeing them in real life. They really are awesome and so inspiring.

Linda is cheerful,  friendly, welcoming and after coffee gets us started on “mood boards”.

This was excellent actually as we didn’t see a finished one to start off with so literally went in blind with no preconceived ideas of what we were aiming for.

It was so clever how it gradually all came together and included, decoupage with fine art, blending, crackle, raised stencilling and finally waxing.

It totally absorbed us and allowed to us to get to know one another as we got on with our boards.

Each one was so different and they were each works of art in their own right.

I love mine.

 

We had a sensational lunch all laid on by Linda and delicious gooey chocolate brownies dropped in by Paul, Linda’s lovely hubby.

We were staying at a near by hotel for the night but as we were so close to York and I hadn’t been there before we drove in and had dinner there and a few drinks. What a beautiful place. Will definitely go back and spend a few days there again in the future.

Day two was about painting our piece of furniture we’d taken to do.

Six people, six different pieces of furniture and six different ideas of what we wanted to do on them.

Linda effortlessly got us sorted and on track and we set to work.

Funny how quiet it goes at times just because everyone is concentrating and engrossed in their work.

The beauty of working in a group is that you can see what other people are doing and how they’re achieving it.

I learn best by watching so for me it’s excellent.

I wanted to work with the “metallics” so set about undercoating my side table before shading with “Grey Pebble” and “Hot as Mustard” using a synthetic “natural” sponge to help minimise brush strokes.

Then came the layering of “Sexy Silver” Frensheen followed by “Gorgeous Gold” and then a final pulling it all together coat of “Cool Copper”.

Then the “ageing spots” followed by Browning Wax to complete.

Somehow in between all of this Linda managed to produce another wonderful lunch and even scones with jam and cream (to die for).

Paul turned up towards the end when we’re frantically applying finishing touches before Linda staged each piece so professionally and photographed them.

It’s not until you get to this stage that you realise what amazing work has been carried out in the time scale.

For me these courses are food for the soul. There’s the group energy for starters. Then there’s the teacher who wants you to learn and who is only too willing to pass on some brilliant tricks of the trade. She wants you to benefit and is generous with her knowledge and full of enthusiasm.

And then there’s the actual “doing”. No interruptions, just time for yourself and your passion.

It’s tiring but liberating and so motivating.

I feel as if I’ve been plucked from normal everyday life and been put in a time warp of pure enjoyment. Feels like I’ve been away for months and it’s been so good for me to have this top up.

Sooooo, do I recommend courses? You bet I do. Pick someone whose work you really admire and see if you can do a course with them. You’ll be so glad you did.

So to Linda,  I thank you for being so happy to impart your knowledge and to the other lovely ladies on the course it was just fabulous to meet you and I look forward to next time.

 

Paint – Al Fresco

This is the perfect time of year to get outside and revamp your garden furniture. We have seen some excellent renovations that have brightened up the garden.  Some adventurous painters have to using it in their kitchens and bathrooms as it is water resistant. See my own kitchen make over here  Fifi painted my kitchen with Al Fresco and it is proving very practical and pleasing to look at.

Frenchic is bringing the inside out with its new hard wearing and weatherproof chalk-paint range specifically developed to protect your garden furniture, while at the same time transforming your outdoor space into a colourful, trendy haven. It has also gone through rigorous testing to be certified child safe (EN 71:3). Al Fresco – a breath of fresh air for your garden!

CREAM DREAM

150ml – £6.95
750ml – £16.95

We get so many questions about the Fabulous Frenchic Paint Products that we thought it may be useful to share Fifi’s expertise here for easy access.  I have tried to transcribe Fifi’s answers but there may be some errors or omissions.

FIFI what’s the difference in the paints?

We’ve got four different ranges. We’ve got the Original range, which is a chalk paint which you use in the usual way as in  you seal it either using a wax  or using the Finishing Coat. That’s the one that most people have heard of.

We then have the Lazy range, which is fantastic if you don’t particularly like waxing, as we’ve got the wax already in it.  So as you paint it on the piece of furniture, it is sealed and it comes out looking a bit like a mat, velvet and you can leave it like that, but if you want it to have a nice sheen on it, all you do is buff it and you can use one of these little washing up sponges, the white ones not the green ones, because they leave a green mark on the paint, but these white ones are great. The more you buff it the more it will activate the wax and give a lovely natural sheen. You can use exfoliating gloves, which is good exercise and gets rid of the bingo wings, that will also help to give up a nice shine and you can also use very fine sandpaper as well, which will help to activate the wax.  Just by doing that already I can see how it’s activated that little bit, so these little sponges are great.

Do you need to sand it first?

No, no sanding required, all you need to do is wash with Sugar Soap. This will just remove any grease, that’s on the piece of furniture. If there is grease on the furniture, it won’t matter how many coats of chalk paint you use, it will just go straight through and you will have a grease mark through the paint. By washing it first you get rid of the grease and then you can apply the paint, usually two coats is required. If it’s a dark piece of furniture and you are using pale colours, you might need three, possibly four at times. No preparation in terms of sanding.  And with regard to the other ranges of paint that we have.  We do also have now the beautiful   Wall paints, which is a chalk paint. It is absolutely dead, flat mat, but it’s fully scrubbable, don’t ask me how they do that, but it is. It goes on like a dream. We do matching Trim Paint as well which are beautiful, again, minimum preparation required, just making sure that it is all clean and grease free before you start and the paints match the wall paints, so that’s a beautiful range that’s just come in.  And we have the AL FRESCO RANGE, which is also very popular at this time of the year for painting all your outside  bits and pieces in the garden, fences, dog houses, stable doors, terracotta pots, plastic pots, seats, anything in the garden and actually people use it to paint their UPC front doors as well so it’s a super paint, needs practically no preparation, other than making sure the piece is completely clean, no cobwebs, no algae, a good old scrub and then apply the paint, it goes a jolly long way and it doesn’t need to be sealed afterwards.  Additionally, if you had wanted to paint your kitchen  or any units in the bathroom, that one is particularly good because it is very robust because it is designed to be used outside. That’s the Al Fresco range which come in tester pot sizes as well so you can check the colours, we have six currently and  six about to be launched any day now. Hopefully by middle of next week we will have them.

Did I just ask you about the Crackle Glaze?

Crackle Glaze is fabulous if you are wanting to add some texture or some age. This is very easy to apply. Base coat is the colour that you paint on first  and that’s the colour that will s how through. Then you apply your cost of Easy Crackle which is like  clear varnish and when it is completely dry , you then put your top coat over  and whatever the colour is underneath is the colour, is the colour that will show through in the cracks. Once you have done that you can then highlight those cracks by using one of the different waxes that we sell. Easy Crackle fabulous for texturing things and adding age.

What are the uses for the Finishing Coat.

Ah, Finishing Coat, if I could drink it I would, I reckon, it would make your hair curl, it’s fabulous stuff [We don’t recommend anyone to drink it].  It goes a long way.  If you are using it to seal your Original Paint range, which might be something perhaps in a kitchen, if it was going to be getting a lot of use, maybe the table top, in your kitchen, this will protect it and make it, absolutely robust and water proof. Table legs and things like that get a lot of scuffs and this is very good for that.  We also use it for any thing to do with Decoupage, I have a board here I did on a course a few days ago,  these are napkins.  I bought some beautiful napkins in Bath, these are 3 ply napkins, and by pealing them into three layers, you can then apply it to your piece of furniture and you would use the Finishing Coat as both the glue and the sealer afterwards.  Sometimes when you are painting things you wil get bleed though, that’s when a stain from a previous paint finish or something like a dark mahogany has very old varnish will create a stain that comes through. It won’t matter how many times you paint over it, it will always come through, unless you seal it with something. The finishing coat is really good for that. If you apply two coats, leave it to dry in the night, then paint over the top of it, very, very rarely does it ever have a bleed through, so it’s a really great product.

WAX verses Finishing Coat?

I use wax most of the time, we have several different coloured waxes. Clear wax will seal things and let the colour shine through. We have a white wax, which gives a lovely sort of chalky finish. We have a defining wax, which is a grey wax, which will get caught in any bits of detailing on your piece of furniture and we have a Browny Wax, which will add age and make it look really antique.  I would use the waxes for most of my things because I like working with the waxes.  However, it is sealing kitchen units or if you want to make something water proof or extra robust  then I would use the finishing coat, it will give you a slight sheen, not a high gloss. I would day that is you do three coats using one of these amazing kitchen sponges  and it will be rock hard and completely water proof. No buffing up required with the finishing coat  Obviously if you are using waxes, then you put them on, with the sponge or better still with one of the Frenchic waxing brushes. We have a large one and smaller one.  I hold it like a fisty cuff action  and you can really work in to all the corners of your piece of furniture. Once it’s dry, then buff it up using the sponge, to get a nice high sheen. It is a personal preference which finish you use, unless you need it to be water proof, unless you need it to be water proof, in which case I would say yes definitely use Finishing Coat, but otherwise, I tend to use the waxes because I just like doing the waxing.

CAN YOU MIX THE COLOURS?

Yes you can mix colours.  It’s a good idea to use a measure so that you can recreate it. I tend to dip my finger into one colour, dip my finger into the other colour, blend them together and see if it is going to give me the sort of colour I like, then I build up the volume from  that.  Yes absolutely you can mix the colours, no problem at all.   With regard to applying the paint, brushes wise, Frenchic do a fabulous range of brushes, they are domed on the top, they are very voluminous, so they hold a lot of paint and you can get them right up into the corners, they really do paint well and help to prevent brush marks. There’s a great little brush there 27mm, I use this one all the time, very useful for getting in and out of the nooks and crannies.  We have flat brushes as well, small one and larger one than that, which is wonderful for doing decoupage or for applying your finishing coat, if you don’t want to use the sponge, so fabulous brushes, well worth the investment and you just wash them out under the tap. All the products are water soluble, so they can rinsed out under the taps.

Can you use Finishing Coat over the Lazy Range?

Yes you can, if I was painting my kitchen using the lazy range, I would then finish it with Finishing Coat, but without buffing it first.  If  you buff the lazy range it will activate the wax and then of course the varnish won’t sit easily on top of the wax. So if you decide that you really like one of the colours in the Lazy Range  and you apply it to your kitchen work surfaces, then seal it using Finishing Coat, rather than buffing it to get a high shine.

You can you any brush?

You could use any brush, it’s like anything, if you intend to do something a lot and you want to do it to the best of your ability it’s always a good idea to have the right tools for the job, and these brushes are just absolutely fabulous.  So yes if you are going to do it, invest in a brush, it will last you a very long time, just wash it out with warm, soapy water, under the tap, make sure it’s dry and it’ll keep you going for ages and ages.

How do we use Frensheen?

It is another use for the wonderful Finishing Coat. We sell these lovely little pots of a glittery sort of powder   called Frensheen which you can use for highlighting things.  You mix the powder and the finishing coat together, to the consistency of roughly double cream.  You can mix it in a Tupperware container, it will keep for ages.  If it gets dried out you just put in some more finishing coat.  You can use it to highlight with a dry brush to pick out anything with lots of detail on it, to accentuate it.

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