How Nicole Gibbons Built A Rapidly Growing Modern Paint Brand

By Amit Chowdhry ● December 4, 2019
  • A couple of years ago, Nicole Gibbons went from a well-known interior decorator to an entrepreneur running a rapidly growing modern paint brand

Last year, Nicole Gibbons launched a modern paint company called Clare. Prior to launching Clare, she worked as an interior designer and had realized that shopping for paint was a major pain for the average consumer.

There are thousands of color options across a wide number of product lines. And the retail environments offer very little guidance.

“I heard paint shopping horror stories time and time again from friends and followers expressing their frustration around these all-too familiar paint points,” said Gibbons in a LinkedIn post. “One friend told me it took her two months and six trips to the paint store just to pick a color she hated. It was obvious that the paint industry wasn’t evolving to fit the needs of today’s consumer, and I saw an opportunity ripe for disruption.”

Clare makes it easier to shop for paint based on a direct-to-consumer model and it offers a simplified product assortment with a focus on conscious ingredients and transparency. And there is designer-led guidance throughout the customer’s journey.

Gibbons said that she cut through the color clutter and reviewed about 600 color formulations to create a palette of rich colors for its users.

Plus Clare also launched the Clare Color Genius, which is an interior design-based color consultation paired with an algorithm that recommends the right color for your space. Clare’s Perfect Color Swatch makes sampling colors easier by peeling and sticking thus causing less manual labor.

Clare’s premium paint is Zero VOC and GREENGUARD Gold Certified. And this stringent certification ensures that Clare’s paint meets aggressive standards for low chemical emissions and releases fewer pollutants.

Gibbons was also featured in the December 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. In the magazine, Gibbon woke up on New Year’s Day and decided “It’s now or never.”

Before launching the company, she had talked with industry experts and joined the women-focused coworking space The Wing to start building the company. At The Wing, she met investor Susan Lyne — who gave Gibbons feedback about the difficulties of raising funding before having something to show investors.

Then Gibbons decided to hire a designer to set up the branding and also consulted with a baby naming website for coming up with the company name.

In the interview with Entrepreneur, Gibbons said that paint companies tend to have masculine names like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. Gibbons liked the sound of Clare and appreciated the word’s Latin meaning for “bright and brilliant.”

It took about eight months to set up partners in paint chemistry and manufacturing along with visiting trade shows and pricing vendors.

In September 2017, Gibbons was prepared to start pitching investors. And then Gibbons ended up pitching 30 firms as Lyne opened up her contacts to her.

Clare ended up raising $2 million in seed funding from investors like First Round Capital, Imaginary, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Bullish, Able Partners and angel investors Casper co-founders Neil Parikh and Luke Sherwin Harry’s co-founders Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield.