My lightbulb moment: Furniture paint CEO Pam Gruhn reveals how she invested her £15k pension to start up her business

  •  Pam Gruhn, from Surrey, founded paint brand Frenchic from her dining table 
  •  In 2014 she invested her £15k pension pot into making her business a reality
  •  She still is yet to take out any investment loans on the family-run business 

Pam Gruhn founded the environmentally friendly furniture paint brand Frenchic in 2014. Married to Rob, a retired chiropractor, she lives in Surrey.

M background is in marketing, but my hobby has always been to bring old furniture back to life rather than see it go to landfill.

All I wanted to do was put my brush in the pot and paint, but I couldn’t find a decent eco-friendly product, with no odour, that didn’t need to be stirred, shaken or have water added to it.

So, six years ago, I decided to manufacture it myself, investing the £15,000 pension pot I had tucked away. I found a factory in the North of England and a brilliant chemist to create the chalk and mineral paints.

Pam Gruhn founded the environmentally friendly furniture paint brand Frenchic in 2014 after investing her £15k pension to make it happen

Working from my dining table, I chose 25 colours to launch our Original Artisan range. A few weeks later, five pallets arrived and then sat in our garage.

Later, I launched the Lazy range, which has a wax infusion.

The great thing about our paint is that you don’t need to use solvents or spirits, because it’s water-based. It’s also self-sealing. So you simply clean and prep furniture before painting, with no need to prime it or add a top coat.

I am a huge fan of French ornate furniture, so that’s where the name came from. And people love the red heart logo on the tins.

We were inundated with stockist inquiries from the start and the brand grew quickly. Today, our paint is available in 64 colours and we have 700 stockists worldwide.

Earlier this year, we received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.

Frenchic paint pots start at £6.95 at frenchicpaint.co.uk

To this day, I haven’t taken any outside investment or loans and my company remains 100 per cent family owned.

We have a huge warehouse and I employ more than 25 people, most of whom are women. My husband has now retired from his job as a chiropractor to join us full-time.

During lockdown, we had a 500 per cent sales surge thanks to people taking up DIY. I made a promise to my stockists that I would get them through by continuing to supply them. I’m passionate about keeping the High Street alive.

Our Frenchic Fan Forum page on Facebook, where people share their work and take inspiration from others, has more than 400,000 members. One person wrote: ‘Our whole street is painted in Frenchic.’

I’ll never tire of seeing the incredible things people can do with our paint.

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