Annie Sloan lives and works in Oxford, England with her husband David who runs the business with her. Born in Australia to a Scottish father and a Fijian mother, she came to England to a farming life in Kent when she was ten years old. With spells in Southern Africa and connections to France, Cuba and the US she feels she has world roots.
She has three sons all in their twenties and has lived in Oxford for the last twenty five years.
Annie Sloan is probably the main reason for the painted furniture revolution through her easy, lively and creative approach to painting. She has a strong desire to communicate and empower people creatively which she does through her books, workshops and paint.
She has been painting for over 40 years as well as writing numerous books on the subject. She has made her own very special decorative paint called Chalk Paint®, which is specifically designed for furniture, that can also be used on walls, floors and in paintings. This paint has been developed through Annie’s knowledge of paint, pigments and art history.
Annie trained as a painter, but turned to decorative work and understanding colour after university. In 1987 she wrote the phenomenally successful book “The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques” which was followed by over 20 other books on traditional paints, colours and techniques and has led to total sales of well over 2 million books worldwide in 11 languages. Her latest books are the highly successful “Creating the French Look” published in April 2008 and “Quick & Easy Paint Transformations” published in April 2010.
In 2000 she set up her shop in Oxford to showcase her Chalk Paint®, run courses, and offer interior design services using her knowledge about colour.
Below is a great article written about Annie in a local Oxford magazine that tell you a little more about Annie’s background.
FROM ROCK TO RAG ‘N’ ROLL
Mary Zacaroli meets a an artistic entrepreneur who turned her back on a rock star lifestyle
(OXFORD TIMES MAGAZINE -IN BUSINESS ‘ ) Oxford Times Magazine -In Business
Would you turn down the chance to tour America with rock legends Pink Floyd? Annie Sloan did. It was in the 1970s and her girl band, The Moodies, was heading for success. They made front cover of The Sunday Times Magazine and counted Mick Jagger and David Bowie among their fans. But she did not want to be a rock star. As a trained artist, she knew her future was in paint. Fast forward 30 years and Annie has combined her love of colour with a successful career as paint designer, teacher, entrepreneur and writer – with over one and a half million of her books sold so far.
The Annie Sloan empire covers a mail-order business, website and two shops – one in Spain – to market her paints, courses and books.
The shop is a riot of colour and textures and epitomises her particular style, which she terms ‘eclectic modern’. French chandeliers, hung on pearlised painted walls, are juxtaposed with Moroccan glasses, stone figures and subtle, sophisticated bowls, designed by local potter, Sophie Smith.
What makes Annie special is her ability to make money from her passion for paint. Her game plan has always been to earn enough to do what she wanted and work for herself.
She began in the mid-1970s by painting murals in people’s houses and running courses on paint finishes, decorative gilding, decoupage and furniture decorating. Marriage and motherhood were easily combined with this part-time career until her third son came along.
“I needed an object to sell, a job that I could do at home,” she said. Writing seemed a natural progression, particularly as there were hardly any books on the subjects she covered.
She started researching the history of decorating and published The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques in 1988. Seen as a ‘bible’ within the industry sales currently stand at 300,000 copies. Since then she has published 18 decorating books. Her favourite is Modern Paint Effects, as it was written from the heart. The success of her books is unsurprising, given that she knows her niche market. She also has a knack for writing engaging works that combine solid research, clear instructions and high-quality photographs with a relatively low price.
The books have been translated into 11 languages and sell particularly well in Spain and Sweden. She is currently working on her 19th book which will be all about designs for gardens. ” Conservatories have brought the garden much nearer to the house and people are seeing gardens more as outdoor rooms,” she said.
Annie started developing her own line of paints because she was not happy with those on the market, As a artist, she did not like their uniformity, nor that they use black, which she said dirties the paint. While teaching in Belgium, she found a small factory that would supply what she wanted and designed her own range of traditional chalk paints. This was followed by a range of mid- sheen paints in modern colours and a line of unique light-reflective paints that sparkle and gleam. A range of garden paints is currently in development. The paints provide a beautiful backdrop to the shop.
Until recently, the business grew organically: “I’m an opportunist,” she said. This has led to mistakes, but it has taught her to follow her own gut feeling. ” You know more about yourself, your business and your own products than anyone else,” she added.
She is currently looking for investment to open a shop in London. She also wants to increase the number of local designers who sell through the shop, but stresses that they need to fit in with her ethos.
Annie eventually hopes to own a chain of shops that sell funky, interesting designs for homes and gardens.” I want to be a new kind of shop, somewhere between B&Q and an upmarket interior design shop,” she said. ” We’ll provide a complete design service if that’s what our clients want. Alternatively, they can buy our fabrics, paints and unpainted furniture and do it all themselves.”
Sitting in her shop, surrounded by her vibrant products, she occasionally wonders what America with Pink Floyd would have been like, but she has no regrets.” Being a rock star was boring, with too many sound checks and too much hanging around,” she said.
Her sons may think she was mad to turn down the chance, but Annie is proof that rock stars are not the only artists who can make a good living.