Philip Reno of Philip’s Perfect Color Interview
Philip Reno of Philip’s Perfect Color Interview
Robin Daly: Okay, so I want to give you a little background about Philip Reno – what I know about Philip Reno. I usually want to strangle him or I agree with him.
Philip Reno: I’m still alive, so that tells you something.
Robin: That’s right, but in this world of color we have pastel people and we have accent colors, and those of us who are partners together to make C2 Paint are all accent colors.
John Shearer: Give us some background. When you say C2 partners – independent dealerships, that’s the only place you can buy C2. In Seattle it’s Daly’s Paint – in Bellevue and Seattle, and other markets around the country.
Robin: Well we’re also growing the brand, so –
John: Oh, you are?
Robin: Yes, we are. So hopefully we’ll be seeing C2 in different markets that we’re currently not in, but Philip is one of those people that compels you to become better, and he will not accept ‘good enough’ as an answer. So, before we started talking here, we were talking about this color Firefly. Recently we’ve updated the colors or tints that go into color the paint and the old Firefly versus the new Firefly.
John: Four coats versus two coats. The first thing that I was asked was, “How many coats did it cover in,” and we currently painted Dr. Hillary Liss’ house in Mt. Baker and it was grey/blue boring and they took a photograph on their trip to Europe and they said “We want a color like this,” and we landed, after looking at lots of colors, on Firefly, after testing lots, and the first thing Philip asked was, “How many coats to cover,” and I said, “Two.”
Philip: Yeah, and the reason I asked that is, historically, these types of colors in all brands of paints have performed very poorly in the coverage aspect.
Robin: Like reds.
Philip: Reds in general, but it will be hard for you to even find a color like Firefly, as you’ve found, in other people’s palettes.
Robin: They don’t even dare go there.
John: You said hard. You mean impossible, right? That’s what you mean.
John: I mean I can say that because I used it.
Robin: You’re John Shearer.
John: I’m not selling it.
Philip: So when we redesigned our colorant work to update the newest technology that was available, one of the criteria that we laid down is that every color, no matter how historically difficult it may be, now had to cover in two coats maximum. Otherwise we would either retire the color because it wasn’t practical for people to actually really be using it, or we would find some –
Robin: We would work it and work it and work it until it got there.
Philip: Until we got it there. So this is one of the success stories that I’m hearing just spontaneously that the work that we put into that has paid off and has given a color space that you’re typically not able to get to, but not only did we get there, we got there in a practical way that the painter isn’t going to kill the owner of the paint store and say, “Why did you sell me that color?”
Robin: Right. If you bid a house and then it took two extra coats to get there, you haven’t made any money. So if you know it’s going to be a two-coat job, then you can plan your bid accordingly without surprises.
Philip: One of the reasons for other companies not doing this as well is that these new colorants are extremely expensive, so at C2, we made the commitment.
John: Hundreds of dollars per quart.
Philip: Yeah. A couple of them are literally $125 a liter. So that kind of expense is not something that typically you would find –
Robin: Compared to say, $30.
Philip: Yeah. Compared to 30 or less. So this was a real leap of faith on our part to say we’re going to invest in this because we know at the end of the day we want John Shearer to be excited about using Firefly, and not to come back –
Robin: It was not a leap of faith. It was a gulp.
Philip: Well, yeah. It was a lot to swallow. But –
John: What C2 represents today is the end of a long evolution. I started painting in 1990 in Seattle. So if you go back in time, that’s when Martha Stewart first began to have something special, and it was very new and different and I think the most custom you had back then was Benjamin Moore had their color deck. Every architect –
Robin: Like their historical colors or….
John: Every architect and designer had those and if you fast-forward all of those years to 2014, the criteria for how paints are judged is much different. So if I go back in time, from homeowners to designers to the paint applicators to developers, the first line is always the price of the product. And then the second one is the performance of the product. What I mean by the performance is how does it hold up in the long term and the additional ones that we have now that we discussed and didn’t before are easy of application –
John: So, easy of application – there’s some products that are actually the cheap-o products that some painters are actually – it’s easier for them because they put it on twice as fast. So, how do you develop a product that’s easy for painters to use, and then the newest category, because people expect so much more, is color accuracy.
John: And so, you know, I’m not going to talk about the twelve colorants, the sixteen colorants, and what the difference is, but I mean, in Seattle in the last three years we’ve painted houses where people stopped their cars to look at the paint job and it’s not accurate to say it’s an orange door or orange siding or blue. It is a totally different color. When you look at Beartone or Bluebeard, these are colors that you bring in, and you can go on the internet and someone will go, “Oh well it’s stupid to buy Benjamin Moore paint because I can just take it to Home Depot.” Those people don’t even know that they don’t know. If you go to any colorist, and you know, we work with all the best colorists in Seattle, we hire them, we do their paint jobs, and they can tell the difference between the colors.
Robin: Can I say one thing? You were talking about all the different criteria – performance of the paint, you know, all of those different things – I would just add that if it’s not the right color, I don’t care how well it performs, I’m not going to pick it. So, color becomes the gateway into all of those other criteria and performance that you want. So, like, Bluebeard – you mention these really weird, hard to match colors – the homeowner wants Bluebeard, and if they choose a professional who doesn’t know what they don’t know and they go somewhere that they can’t make Bluebeard because they simple don’t have the tools –
Philip: Right. They don’t have the colorants.
Robin: The colorants don’t even exist, right? Like it’s outside the sandbox. They’re never going to be happy, regardless of it dried, it protected, it expands, it contracts, you know, all of those performance things, but if it’s the wrong color…
John: Philip, can you take us back to the launch of C2 in the Bay Area and what you guys were trying to do? I mean, obviously Seattle is special, but San Francisco is a world class city for design, lots of – I mean, I don’t need to explain the city –
Robin: Well, Philip is the color expert in San Francisco. Is it Apartment Therapy or Houzz that you’re really connected in?
Philip: Remodelista is one.
Philip: Well, one of the things that happened is just getting back to what you said there, regarding color, okay? So I was always color-focused. When I got into the retail side of paint, I was a painter for 18 years, put it on, and then moved into the retail side, I realized, as you have, that in the marketplace of a lot of wannabes, you have to differentiate yourself. So you have to find something. Well what is it that I can bring to the table that’s going to be unique and special and better than, and the thing that I knew from my past experience was color, so I said, I’m not going to sell paint, I’m going to sell color, and that was a radical concept at the time. We’re talking –
John: So, as a painting contractor, what paints were you using? I’m going to ask you the real questions now. What did you use, and then when you began, and when you decided, like you said, to sell color, what did you begin selling and how did that lead you on this trail of being one of the original people at C2, the vision, and everything else?
Robin: He had his own color palette before he even joined C2.
Philip: Yeah. So, I mean, a little history here – C2 pops up in, like, 1998. I’m not a C2 partner until 2006. So there’s this gap of time here where I was sort of going along on my merry way selling, you know, the premiere paints at the time were Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert. At the end of my painting career, those were the two product lines that I pretty much used exclusively. I’d used lots of other paint. I mean every other paint that was on the market at one time or another I would use, you would use, everybody would use because we’re painters and we get put into all different kinds of situations. So I was well-versed in what was available in the marketplace and gravitated toward those two brands because they represented the premium end of the spectrum at that time, and over the course of that period of time we were talking about there, I developed what later became known as Philip’s Perfect Colors and I designed that in Pratt & Lambert accolade at the time because it represented, again, the highest quality colorant and paint base that I could get my hands on.
John: So what you’re saying is that you chose the Pratt & Lambert colorants over the Benjamin Moore colorants.
Philip: Absolutely. There was no question in my mind at the time that the paint was superior to the other. This is pre-aura days. You’re talking about an accolade flat versus a regal wall satin flat.
John: So before you even became a paint dealer, you were a painter. You used both of those. Did you go even more toward that Pratt & Lambert was a superior colorant system after you began to sell it and mix it?
Philip: Yes. One of the things that was interesting to me was that at the end of my painting years, having painted for eighteen years, I thought I knew everything.
Robin: What? [laughing]
Philip: Yeah. This is a surprise to you, I know. It took me about a week in the paint store to realize I knew almost nothing, okay? So this was a revelation. I really realized that my knowledge base was so focused in one direction only that there was this whole other world that I didn’t understand. So, that got me excited.
Robin: Did you help clients choose colors when you were a painter?
Philip: Oh, yeah. I had become a specialized faux finisher and color consultant toward the end of those eighteen years.
John: So, you were mixing field colors.
Philip: Yeah. So I was basically, you know, a very high-end colorist before I even got to the paint retail side of things, and that’s why I knew when I got there that the thing I could sell was color. I said, “Well, anybody can sell paint. You can buy paint from anybody, so I’m going to sell color,” and so, what am I going to make that in? Well I’m going to make that in the highest quality thing I can get my hands on and that’s going to represent something quite unique, which it did, and it grew sort of organically on its own without me doing anything other than making colors and doing big brush outs and putting them up behind the counter, and having customers get excited, and then one thing led to another. So out of the corner of my eye, literally through trade journals, I started seeing this thing called C2 was popping up. People like Robin Daly were suddenly holding up big paint swatches and I thought, these people are doing the right thing. Everything I read about them and everything that I saw, I was a little intimidated. I thought, these people are playing my game here, and they’re actually doing it quite well. So that got me really excited.
Robin: It was a good partnership for you to join.
Philip: Yeah, and the reason that I hadn’t –
John: And was there a C2 dealer already in your market?
Philip: No. There were things called VOC laws, which are really getting a bit more uniform now, but back in the day it was kind of all over the place, so depending on what county or air quality district you were doing business in –
John: So you could use Cellutone here but not over here?
Philip: Exactly. So, I actually could not sell C2 paint, okay?
Robin: When it first came out.
Philip: When it first came out because it was a different VOC regulation than northern California.
Robin: Northern California had the reputation of having the – like, when C2 paint was designed, it was like, okay, we’re going to take care of 98% of the country and we’re just going to have to sit tight on this market.
John: The Northern California restrictions were tighter even though all of the laws were originated because of the smog in Orange County.
Philip: Well, no. LA – SoCal was stricter than us than a notch, so whatever would happen in the Southern California district would end up sort of bleeding over a little later into Northern California. So they would sort of lead the way and then we would follow and the rest of the country would sort of come along as…
Robin: So, just sort of as an anecdote, when I went to visit Philip’s store a number of years ago, we were looking at painted ladies and these just beautiful mansions which are just cheek to jowl next to each other, right? There’s not like palatial grounds, there’s just one right after another, and this one home exterior was being painted in a very high-end paint that could only be sold in small containers. So behind the house was a dumpster filled with teeny tiny containers. An exterior in something this big [holds hands about 6 inches apart].
Philip: Yeah. Massive exterior.
Robin: I mean I remember that image because we’ve been in changing times, like you said when you first started, VOC’s weren’t really anything that we thought about really, so we’ve been through this whole title change and shift of what we expect in the performance and the consumer, the homeowner, is so much better educated than they were –
Philip: Oh yeah. I mean, we couldn’t give away low VOC paint before. I mean, people didn’t want it
Robin: I mean, it was kind of crap.
Philip: It was not very high quality.
John: It smelled funny when you opened it up.
Robin: It was like sticky when it was dry.
Philip: I mean, the whole thing was just, you know, very hard to convince people that it was a good idea. So only the sort of greenest people or people with high allergies, or things like this, would even want to go near this stuff, so at one point –
Robin: And their colors sucked.
Philip: Yeah. At one point, the regulation on the east coast, which is where the primary market for C2 had gravitated toward – Toronto, Boston – that regulation changed, and came in alignment with Northern California. So at that point, C2 became an option and it was a no brainer at that point. As soon as it was available to me and I could actually sell it, that it was a simple thing to figure out from there. So we reformulated all of my Philip’s Perfect Colors into the C2 Paint base, using C2 colors.
Robin: And Philip’s Perfect Colors are all full spectrum.
Philip: So that was the full-spectrum genesis you might say where we evolved. So when I got to C2, there were complex colors, which was way better than anyone else was doing. You have to understand – industry standards were two colorants and black. I mean, that was pretty much what you would get, whether it was Benjamin Moore, Pratt & Lambert –
Robin: The goal is to make the color as cheap as possible.
John: The use of universal tints.
Philip: – Sherwin Williams. I don’t care whose paint it was, that was the way colors were constructed. There’s a lot of reasons, not all of them bad, for that being done that way, but times changed, technology changed, color dispensing equipment changed. You know, imagine when I started making my colors and I wanted to put twelve pigments in something, I had to manually do that, you know? Now, if you came in and said I need twenty gallons of this stuff and I’ve got my car running.
Robin: You’ve got the deer in the headlight look?
Philip: Yeah, I’m double parked in San Francisco, which happens all the time, right? You know, how fast can you make me twenty gallons, and please don’t screw any of it up. So, one little slip up in those twelve pigments over twenty gallons and we’ve got trouble. So, it was a problem –
Robin: That would never happen to you though.
Philip: Well, it was a problem looking at it from an industry standard, right? So, people didn’t even want to go there because it just represented too much complexity. Well, now you factor in automatic tint machines – you push a button and stand back and twelve, sixteen, I don’t care how many colorants, it’s going to happen like that [snaps fingers]. So that was one gateway that opened up that made this more feasible. Not all colorants are made the same or are as lightfast or hide the same, all of these things are different. So, black is not the same as orange. You know, red is not the same as blue. All of these things vary within the spectrum, so that’s where all of the research around, well what’s the highest quality thing we can get our hands on? I mean, so if you don’t want your exterior yellows to fade, well guess what, you’re going to be paying $125 a liter for that colorant that has lightfast qualities. So that’s what gives us confidence to create these complex colors.
Robin: So you can have a color like Firefly –
Philip: Yeah, or Baritone or Bluebeard, which just have a quality to them that can’t be achieved any other way. I mean, there’s just things you can do, and having worked in the paint store for so long, I can tell you, I can’t count the frustration of people coming in and bringing me something that they wanted me to match, and I would take one look at it and say, well I can’t match that, and they would think that I was either an idiot or incompetent. They would say, “What do you mean you can’t match it,” and I would say, “You’re bringing me something in color space that this array of colorants will never get to. It doesn’t matter how good I am or how smart I am.”
John: Can you match this Fila logo [pointing at wrist band]?
Philip: Right. And I know because I’ve screwed up literally hundreds of gallons of paint trying to do all of this stuff, that I’m never going to get there.
Robin: And whose fault is it? It’s your fault.
Philip: Yeah the concept is, you have certain crayons that you’re working with and no matter what you do with these crayons, they’re never going to create a certain color space and you’re never going to go beyond that. It’s not magic. Right? It’s physics. So, you’re just never going to go beyond what those crayons will allow you to do. So, the fact that we found colorants that would expand that range, right, that would take us to the outer reaches of color space, that the original colorants would not do, gave us the opportunity to create interesting colors that other people simply can’t get anywhere near, and then formulating them in the way we do with the complex array of pigments to make them more nuanced and sort of more delicious. It’s like, I always use a cooking analogy because I like to cook. I say, you know, when you’re making a really wonderful dish and you’re using lots of different herbs and spices – a little of this, a little of that – and then I feed it to you and you just go wow that’s delicious. What is it? You can’t really identify maybe what the spices are. You just know that it tastes really delicious. So that’s the way that we approach color, because I don’t want you to look at that and say, “I see this.” I want you to be just a little baffled by it and just amazed by it. And that’s what a complex color will do. It won’t scream at you. It’ll just pull you in and sort of just seduce you a little bit and the eye just delights in that. So that’s really the magic behind how we go about creating colors.
John: [To Robin] You undersold Philip.
Robin: Oh, did I?
John: In 45 seconds I heard color space, outer space, and delicious, and it all made sense. It wasn’t BS.
Robin: So, listen to me, though. Philip and I have the honor of participating in the company that is C2 and we’re both very involved, in different ways, in the color and in the whole face of C2.
Philip: Marketing and…
John: Strategic direction.
Robin: Strategic planning. Neither one of us let the fact that we have opinions get in the way of sharing them with anybody.
Philip: No [laughing]. Not me.
Robin: But it’s too important to us.
Philip: Mutual respect too, and that’s the important thing.
Philip: Everybody understands. We’re really trying to make the best in our class and whether it’s music or art or whatever creative venture you’re involved in, there’s always an attention there if you’re going to get to something great. It’s never going to come easily or simply. There’s always going to be some sort of attention.
Robin: And Philip doesn’t accept “Good enough,” right? So, what it’s done for C2 is that it has elevated C2 to a different level than we had our own self expectations, and working in the color arena, we’ve evolved the color pallet, we’ve pigments – the tints that go into it – and we don’t settle and that’s a lesson we learned from Philip.
Philip: And again, like I said in the beginning of this, there was this group of people that was already doing something so amazing and so different from everybody else that it was hard for me not to notice that, you know? So, like I said, it kept just sort of popping up in my peripheral vision. I’m like, there’s a whole lot of people out there doing things that make no sense to me –
Robin: My favorite term is Ellipse of Acceptability.
Robin: So, when we design a color, it has to be – and you’re designing a formula that has to match that color that you’ve created, it has to be within that ellipse of acceptability, which is an industry term. So there’s like a plus or minus. Here’s the color and it might be a little here, it might be a little there [moves hands slightly to the left and right from starting position]. C2’s ellipse of acceptability is incredibly narrow compared to what we call industry standard.
Philip: Right, and that’s something, you know, that the general public is probably not going to understand.
John: That can be measured by a mathematical formula?
Philip: Oh, yeah. LAB values. So you take a spectrophotometer and you measure a color and it’s going to give you three basic measurements: light/dark, red/green, yellow/blue. The combination of those three is what we’re going to call the Delta E – in other words, the overall acceptability of the color to the standard that you’re trying to match. So, we have wonderful spectrophotometers in our store, which I hope we’re going to play with today.
Robin: Yeah, we’ll play with them.
Philip: – that can really do things that, again, are beyond the industry standard that help you create things in the most interesting way. If you’re a math wonk, this will really get you excited because you can create color by number and it’s really kind of exciting to see that operation.
John: This is the house I was talking about [pointing to cell phone] and this is just an internet picture. The story behind this was, we painted this house in 1997. This is actually another image of the house. This was it in 1997 and this is – we just painted it recently. We made it yellow in ’97 and this time around they wanted to repaint – we wanted to repaint it again, and of course they said, “Let’s just paint the same color,” and I said, “You should explore, because I know way more about color,” and I said, “Be wide open,” and they started going around the neighborhood and looking at some of the – you know, the homeowner said, “Well, I don’t know if this is going to work, but I saw a red.” You know, we picked a better red. I mean, it’s not red. It’s not purple.
Philip: What is the color?
Philip: [to Robin] Is that the one you had showed me that they’d done?
Robin: I’m trying to remember.
Philip: Venus Envy or something?
Philip: It’s a C2 color, right?
Robin: Yeah, it’s that really intense color.
John: It vibrates. I mean, all of the houses that I do in the C2, like the houses in Bluebeard. You know we go through all of the – you know, especially if they’re a colorist – they’re probably bringing out a Benjamin Moore color deck, and many of them now are – you know, I’ve armed them with a C2 color deck. There are fewer colors on there, but they’re better colors.
Robin: Well, they’re curated colors.
Philip: Yeah. Do we want to talk about that a little bit? Because, again, this is not an accident. You know, we could certainly create a pallet of 3,000 colors if we thought that was going to be helpful, but the idea of having a more limited pallet, edited, curated –
John: Tell everybody, when you have three thousand colors, how many of those colors are actually used?
John: 20% of them, and then the rest are just candy colors to make everybody think they’re better because they have more. Isn’t that the truth?
Philip: It’s actually less than twenty percent, and I’ll tell you a real story. So, when I originally started doing the Philip’s Perfect Color thing, and it was sort of just researching, like, well how many colors should I make? You know, what should I be shooting for here? What’s going to be an ideal pallet? I literally sat down with the Benjamin Moore Classic fan deck, the Pratt & Lambert fan deck at the time, and went through color by color and said, “Have I ever sold anybody this color?”
John: And started crossing them off.
Philip: And just started going through these decks, right? And when I got down to the whole thing, I came up with about 200 colors that I thought were –
Robin: Out of two fan decks?
Philip: Out of two fan decks which equaled something close to four thousand colors. I got down to about two hundred colors -
John: With an equal representation of blues, reds…
Philip: Yeah. Anything that people actually –
Robin: People tend toward neutrally-
Philip: What do people actually buy? You know, in other words, they buy it because it works. They don’t buy it because they hate it; they buy it because it actually works.
Robin: Right. It resonates with them.
Philip: It resonates on some level. So then I said, okay, I have a 200 color pallet here, what do I really sell? I was able to get down to about fifty colors that were just screamers. I mean, like, this is what you’re going to pump all day long, right? You need two hundred because you want Firefly, you want that accent color. You’re not going to sell a boatload of it, but you still want it. That still ends up in that 200 colors. So this stuff that’s out here, is so rarely, if ever, used, that it’s really more confusing –
Robin: It’s extremely expensive. The cost to create a color system is phenomenal. So, if you’re a huge brand, to make a change is a big deal. It’s like turning the Titanic around.
Robin: So, they want to create a color pallet that can work for ten or fifteen years, because as color tastes evolve, you know, right now we’re selling a lot of whites. Five years ago, we couldn’t hardly push a can of white, unless it was for trim. So color tastes evolve and they want to create a big enough selection that they don’t have to redo the pallets because tastes have changed, but I think what Philip has said, even when tastes have changed, there’s still this universe –
Philip: It still lives here.
Robin: -within evolving tastes that, as humans, we resonate with.
Philip: Right. There’s a reason why we gravitate toward a certain pallet and it’s multi-leveled in terms of how it represents itself, but, you know, of course nature is a huge thing. We’re all a part of this world. We look out our window, we see the blue sky, we see the green grass. So, nature is a huge component. And then, I like to take that and marry it with art tradition, and say, you know, there’s been sort of a consciousness passed onto us culturally where great artists were trying to replicated things they saw in nature, but they didn’t have nature, they had paint. So, back to what are the tools in your box? So, they had to somehow try to capture what they were seeing with the tools that they had and the pigments that were available four or five hundred years ago compared to what we have now. So, all great art is this attempt to capture nature in some way and to bring that somehow into this art. So, culturally we end up with the art that is also an influencer into our eye. So we stand back when we go to the Louvre or we go to the museum and see these great works of art and we’re captivated by that. So, not only is it the nature outside of our world that influences us all, but culturally we get influenced by the artists that try to interpret that. So, the combination of these things, I like to say, bring us to the point that we’re in that sandbox or we’re within that frame of acceptability. There’s always these kind of crazy things that end up being sort of more commercially viable. Like you’ll see things on TV or you’ll see things in ad print that are wild and crazy and it’s designed to get your attention and really focus you, but these –
Robin: Yeah, like punctuation.
Philip: Yeah, but it’s not a sort of livable kind of thing. So those colors that we’re going to live with, we don’t really want a color of the year phenomena, which is sort of the silliest thing anyone can ever utter. You know, are you going to paint your house every year?
Robin: Radiant Orchid?
Philip: [laughing] Radiant Orchid. So, really, when you get right down to it, there’s sort of this core group of colors. Our mission isn’t how can we confuse people, but how can we take the thing we know they love and make it even better? So, how can you make a better hamburger? How can you make a better pasta dish? You know, you just make a better pasta dish, right? You don’t say, well, we don’t like pasta. No, we love pasta. We want the best pasta dish imaginable, so we refine and refine and refine these core group of colors and get them to the point where they’re exquisite and –
John: Can I give you an outsider – well, no, I’m not an outsider – but can I give you a different perspective-
John: -for what both of your work, people like you, what the work has done and where the work is headed. So, you discussed this core pallet, and I totally agree with you. I mean, Cotton, Wedding, those are great colors. Even Moxie is sort of – I mean, it’s an accent color – but it’ll still work. I mean Baritone – I mean all of your colors will work.
Robin: And they make good friends with each other.
John: Baritone, depending on who you’re talking to Baritone is a traditional color or it’s a brand new, modern color.
Philip: [laughing] Right.
John: That deep blue. I’m going to say that you’re not a 100% accurate when you say – because I think you’re going into – you’re revolutionizing – like, I think that the colorists out there, there’s going to be a new class and a new class of painters – I’m not talking painters, like just putting it on, but what our expectation of what painters do is going change because when I look at some of these colors like Firefly… When I look at Firefly, when I look at representations on a screen or on print material, don’t do it. I mean, when these clients I spoke to last night at 11:30 and I helped them – when I do color work it’s very easy for me to say, you should paint it in this. It kind of depends on how I’m feeling that day. I might have been in a blue mood, might have been in an orange mood, but it’s more of a challenge for me to find – help them find their color and I educate them, and I say, oh you have a lot of green around your house. This is what we’ll do for the green. So, that’s the challenge that I – and they picked this Firefly and they are over the moon with – and we’re choosing – the reason why I say Baritone – we’re picking that as the front door in a high gloss and –
Robin: Ooooh [clapping].
John: You couldn’t have done Firefly before. You can’t. From all of the things we’ve talked about today – does the paint cover? Because it becomes, I mean, a non reality if it takes seven coats of paint to cover something. Even if you could put seven coats of something, you’d change the shape of some trim.
Robin and Philip: Right.
John: But now we have a product that can work and is color-accurate that I think it’s going to take some time and some leaders who are colorists and painters to actually begin to change the whole –
Robin: The dialogue.
John: – the dialogue and what people will accept for color and, you know, I’m painting for some of these people that are like, “I see this color,” you know, Kim Starman, we did the yellow door, she’s right of the street from this house. She stopped by yesterday. She didn’t know we were painting the house, because homeowners don’t deal with color. People think of color like when they’re trying to buy a car. Like if you’re trying to buy a VW Beetle, you see them everywhere, but until – you don’t notice color until you notice color and are like, what are everybody’s
colors. You know, you want to get a haircut that’s a bob and you see everybody has a bob.
Robin: [laughing] Yeah.
John: And so, the focus is on the color and they’re worried about – we want an orange that’s not too orangey, we want orange crush. We don’t want it to be too redish, and my client came by and said exactly what it is. It’s a red-ish orange. It’s sophisticated. Is it a blood orange? What is it? They’re like, that’s exactly what it is. I told them, well that’s my customer.
Robin: The color was Curtain Call.
John: Yes. Thank you. Curtain Call.
Philip: And that’s back to the ambiguity that I was talking about. You want that ambiguity of color. Even if it’s orange, you’re not quite sure where it’s living. It’s in this sort of beautiful, sophisticated space, but it’s hard to really nail it down. That’s what we’re talking about when we –
John: So, how are you guys going to battle the other brands that say we can do it all, and since I have the freedom – I don’t advocate for any particular name brand – let’s say the box brands. You know, in this day and age of social media and lots of experts and people become experts all of a sudden and then they make a couple of videos on how to roll out some paint or how to pick colors. “The five rules of picking the perfect color.” I can’t convince somebody that already thinks that they can get paint anywhere that’s the same, so the people that I work for are already pre-programmed.
Robin: Okay. Let me explain it this way a little bit. To me, toilet paper is a commodity item and I go to Costco. I have certain expectations of its performance and its feel, right? And it gets met. I don’t need it to do anything else. There’s been a problem in our industry where a bucket of paint has about the same value as a roll of toilet paper. Because of our experience, either handling paint or working with people who paint, we know that brand that comes from a box store is not even on the same page as a premium product.
John: You mean Behr paint.
Robin: Right. Behr is a four letter word, right? If you pick up the two buckets of paint, the premium paint, and in this case, we’re talking about C2, probably is twice as heavy. So, what does that mean? When the paint film is dried, if this [premium paint] is twice as heavy, that means it has more solids in it. It means it’s leaving more paint behind. This [box store paint] has more liquid in it, which evaporates into nowhere. You know, the ingredients that go into making paint are things like resins, and the liquid part of it, and the color part of it. Those are the glue that makes it stick on the wall, so every one of those categories has to meet way higher standards than what you’re going to get for twenty bucks a gallon or thirty bucks a gallon. Like you can’t even make that.
Philip: Right, you can’t make a $60 gallon of paint for $20 even if you want to give it away.
Robin: It’s not just a prettier label.
Philip: Again, back to the food analogy. You go into a really sophisticated restaurant where the quality of the ingredients – forget about what they’ve done with them – just the quality of the ingredients that are in that kitchen, and then go into a Denny’s. Go look in the kitchen and see what these people are working with to begin with, and you’re going to see a big huge difference of what the raw materials are, and I think that that’s what we’re speaking about here.
Robin: But there’s a whole –
Philip: The basic building blocks are so vastly different, and you’re going to pay more back to the colorant. You’ll pay $125 if you’re going to get this. You’re not going to get that same raw material for $20. It doesn’t exist.
Robin: Some of my favorite customers are people that have bought the box store paint, and then they come in. They’ve been made to come in and they have to try the premium paint and then it’s like they got new religion, because it’s made their life so much easier. It’s made doing their job so much easier. The homeowner – if it’s the homeowner – they’ve had experience with this kind of paint and it’s hard and it’s not fun and I get paint all over me. I get paint on my furniture, my dog walked through it. It’s all over my house now. Then they use something that sticks on the walls, doesn’t spit at you, and the color luminescent, right? So, again, lifers. Once you try both, you realize that the price difference is a meal at a fast food joint, right, between the bucket of paint that’s good and the bucket of paint that’s cheap. Maybe two meals. Well, are you going to remember that you didn’t go buy a hamburger and supersized fries? No, but you’re going to live with that way better product for a long time, and it’s going to look better longer.