Digby Paints – Confounded By Colour

This article appeared on torontosun.com by Vicky Sanderson. To read the original post Click Here.

Online offering makes picking out paint easier

Choice, generally, is a good thing. Except, perhaps, when it’s paint colour, and you’re faced with what seem like an endless number of options with almost imperceptible differences in hue.

That can be overwhelming, especially if the decision is being made beneath the unforgiving lighting of a big box store. Add extra points for stress if this is undertaken during a global pandemic.

Paint-industry veteran Jill Torrance and digital-marketing expert Emily Kinread are betting homeowners are ready for a more enjoyable, and for the moment safer, way to pick paint.

The two founded Hamilton-based Digby Paints, which launched a 60-colour palette late in 2019 that’s sold exclusively online. As a comparison, premium paint makers Farrow and Ball offer 132 colours, and Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint line has fewer, at just 42.

The much-loved Fusion brand of Mineral Paint has some 50 colours. By contrast, Benjamin Moore has upwards of 3,500.

During a recent interview, I asked Torrance to give me the pitch for coming to market with a restricted palette.

“Colour has been my career,” she says. “It’s a very discriminating customer who needs 3,000 colours. For all the others, we took away a lot of the visual noise, narrowing down the palette based on trends, classic colours, and ones that are reliable with carpets, building materials, and finishes. They’re can’t-go-wrong colours.”

While the selection includes deep and saturated colours, it skews to easy-to-live-with neutrals that work well with other hues; some 25 per cent of sales so far have been of the versatile, cool-grey Stepping Stones.

Getting the neutrals right was critical, says Torrance. “People who don’t look at colour all day long can see something under retail lighting and not realize there’s a green undertone until it’s on the wall.” That, she adds, can be an unwelcome surprise.

For those nervous about buying paint virtually, there are online visual tools and calculator functions. I tried the chat service, which was quick, friendly, and helpful. If I was not sure about my choices, I was welcome to send a picture of my space for ideas and suggestions.

There are no sample pots; instead they sell stickable, three- by ten-inch colour cards in groups of five colours for $1. Individual colours can be detached and moved around on walls.

There’s also a “happiness guarantee”, although returned paint will incur a restocking fee. Torrance says there have been two cases out of 1,200 sales this year that have required it.

Paint is self-priming, but Digby does sell a primer for new drywall or walls that have required a lot of patching and sanding. Brushes, rollers, drop-cloths, and tape are also for sale, and can be currently delivered anywhere in Ontario. Look for expanded geographic reach and new products — possibly gloss latex, or something suited to furniture and cabinetry — in 2021.

Describing it as “premium quality”, makers of the 100 per cent latex acrylic paint say it’s also eco-friendly, washable, durable, and low-VOC.
Torrance thinks the rise of increasingly confident, increasingly knowledgeable online shoppers is a plus for her business model.

“When we talk to people,” she says, “often they are just looking for validation that the colour they like is ‘right’. We just help them decide what will work better in the space and make them happier.”


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