Entrepreneur Paula Blankenship grew up in Oneida, Tennessee spending considerable time working in her family’s retail furniture business before becoming a commercial interior designer working on New York and the East Coast for several years. During the economic crisis that began in 2008, Blankenship got the idea to develop and market a chalk based paint after years of observing how difficult and tedious it was for typical consumers to take on do-it-yourself home improvements projects such as refinishing cabinets or dressers using traditional paint.
Following the recession, Blankenship co-founded Louisville, KY based Heirloom Traditions Paints, starting as a single Mom selling pints of paint on eBay out of her kitchen while her teenage son helped her package orders for shipping after coming home from school. Since many consumers were uncomfortable with prepping surfaces in refinishing jobs due to inexperience, lack of expertise, or busy schedule, Heirloom Traditions introduced its Finish All and All-In-One paint lines, which allow projects to be done with little or no surface prepping as a result of containing primer and was. As a result, the consumer is able to just clean off a surface and proceed with painting.
The success behind Blankenship’s idea lies in simultaneously identifying serving an unmet consumer need while offering a quality product. This is simply good marketing practice. As such, it is not surprising that the company’s sales have increased to more than $7 million annually, with 25-30% additional growth anticipated in the coming year.
Another key to the company’s success lies in Blankenship’s recognition of the power of e-commerce and social media from early on. Heirloom Traditions initially believed thought that hardware chains and DIY retailers would be their primary retail outlet, but quickly found out that because use of the product required detailed explanation, and in some cases teaching, that social media and e-commerce options were attractive. Thus, product is available on Amazon and Amazon Prime as well as direct via the company’s website. Its primary form of promotion is via its Facebook page, which has more than 100,000 followers and boasts engagement levels of more than twenty times that of its competitors.
Blankenship describes the company’s promotional strategy as follows, “We use our social media as our very own QVC network reaching the consumer with the TV they’re holding in their hand.” We produce valuable content in a teaching format to give our audience a real perspective on how to use our products successfully, in a real-world setting, to improve most interior/exterior surfaces in their home.”
The company has also successfully adapted to social media trends and is now putting emphasis on promotion via Instagram as well as YouTube. Blankenship describes the recent strategy as follows, “In the last year, we’ve focused on reaching and engaging our Instagram audience through Instagram TV and directing people to links to join our Facebook group. From there, we’re able to guide them on using our products and hopefully gain their email address to send them promotions….Instagram helps us drive home of our message of the direct to consumer strategy.”
Building on the success of the point products, Blankenship is now venturing into auto industry with the recent launch of a new brand, Restore Coat (see demonstration in video from Motorhead Garage above). The brand will be featured in November at the SEMA (trade association focusing on the auto aftermarket) show in Las Vegas with demonstrations of it Restore Coat Brush-On Paint and Restore Coat Repair Compound. The products are designed to give auto owners an affordable, effective way to repair parts such as dash pads, armrests, seat cushions, and other interior areas. According to Blankenship, Restore (patent pending) has perfected a repair compound and paint product that allows people to restore and renew leathers, vinyls and plastics at an affordable cost and with lasting results.
Maybe we will have to call her the “Repair Queen” going forward.