Hi Emma, How would you describe YesColours?
YesColours is a UK–based paint company here to inspire joy through feel-good paints in astonishing colours. We are focused on protecting our planet, inspiring creativity, celebrating culture and rediscovering the love and drama of colour.
These are paints that not only look good but that you can feel good about, using innovative colour technology and are completely safe for you, your family, your co-workers, your pets, and the environment – as well as game-changing recyclable packaging that reduces waste going to landfill.
Tell us about your work before YesColours…
Throughout my career, I have been guided by a total obsession with colour and design. I’m one of the lucky few people to have Grapheme-colour synesthesia, it’s a genetic mutation where my brain merges the senses and therefore I see colour and emotions in words, numbers, and even days of the week.
I’ve been an artist my whole life but throughout my career, I’ve worked in museums, theatres, fashion buying, and nearly a decade in advertising agencies. Before we started YesColours, I set up Move Over Magnolia Studio; a side hustle in lockdown sourcing premium vintage glassware and painting them to give them a new lease of life, selling them online alongside commission based orders for styled shoots and weddings.
What’s the story behind the name?
It’s a name that brings together optimism and creativity – and one that isn’t limited both in terms of opportunities and colours. The ‘yes’ signifies the potential and the positive mindset of the company, and ‘colours‘ represents everyone, all tastes and all influences, all backgrounds, all colours.
Describe a typical working day…
Being a start–up, there never is a typical working day! We are a very small team of three full–time staff, but planning to grow this year. I can be found at my desk creating new colours, working on design briefs for commercial projects, customer service queries, connecting with designers and architects, writing blogs, creating content for our amazing social media manager, or providing commentary for press articles.
What’s the ethos behind your work?
We have three value pillars which are intrinsically linked; feelgood, the love of colour, being sustainable. Of course, this applies to our product and the brand itself, but this is very much part of the team culture here too.
YesColours is the embodiment of these principles to make sure that if a customer chooses our products, they are doing so with their wellness, but also their creativity, in-mind – we want to liberate home decor from the traditional approaches that have people living in white boxes and 25 per cent more depressed than they were before Covid-19 (WHO statistic). Our aim is to empower customers that care about the environment to help protect it – rather than putting more tins straight to landfill.
Is there an element of your work that you love the most?
The colour development work I do is blissful joy. I’ve been mixing paint colours since the age of two, so to be able to do it as part of my job… I’m living the dream. We created the YesColours palette by grouping the colours by tones and labelled them using positive emotive adjectives, so it’s always a therapeutic time when we develop new colours. I hand mix the colours using any paint I can get my hands on, including my children’s poster paints, my canvas acrylics alongside our matt emulsion samples. It’s so much fun.
What’s been the biggest eye-opener for you in your work?
The time needed to focus on customer service. It deserves care and attention and for us, it’s vital we have a very personal and efficient customer service platform for our customers, so we go above and beyond on a daily basis. This requires a lot of the team’s time but as we grow, we will implement resources accordingly. I’ve loved getting to know our customers though. I love to find out about each customer’s project, which quickly turns into discussing schemes and the inspiration behind their colour choices. We talk about colour in a very universal way – so some emails, messages or video calls result in chatting about holidays and movies which have inspired their decor scheme. We all have a creative spirit in us and it’s great to see people light up when they talk about their personal connection to colour.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
I find it in anything and everywhere. Movies, art, the food I make, books I read, my wardrobe, music, my garden and places I travel. I love how there is an infinitive choice of colour pairings and combinations constantly around you, without realising half the time. If someone asked me to be creative whilst sitting in a meeting room, it’s never going to happen. Creativity will pop up at the most random times. Break your routine and that’s when it’s most likely to come along.
Do you enjoy working as an independent?
Having your best mate as your co-founder is pretty ideal – I’m finally working together with John after a 20+ year friendship. We’re both from creative backgrounds but different disciplines, so having that whole spectrum of knowledge combined has been so useful building our brand. The joys are when we’re at events talking to customers and people in the trade industry, receiving incredible feedback about our products. There’s no better feeling than that.
There are challenges, especially when we started the business during lockdown. Starting a business during unprecedented times has been a huge challenge – as it has for many others out there. However, without lockdown we certainly wouldn’t be where we are. It’s enabled us to take the time required to get our brand, our values and our product exactly how we envisaged, and has achieved great results when it comes to all the projects and customers that are now singing our praises. The recognition we’ve achieved in such a short space of time just goes to show that even in a global crisis, entrepreneurs can emerge from a struggling economy.
Is the online community important to your work?
It’s the beating heart of everything we do. When we first started the business, we relied heavily on building our Instagram community. We didn’t have the budget for paid social ads, so we focused on organic growth, building a community of like-minded home decor advocates who wanted to talk about colour in a more relatable and exciting way. We have been able to conduct various social surveys in order to tackle topics such as the impact of colour for our mental health, colours to reduce anxiety and help seasonal affective disorder, or even colours which create certain emotive responses in someone. There’s still so much primary research we can do and we love discovering more about colour from our YesColours community.
From Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram to Facebook, we have a growing community of people who understand our mission to sell a product which embodies our values of feeling good, being sustainable, loving all colours, going against trends and celebrating colour connections and culture.
What have been your business highlights so far?
Working and collaborating with incredible people such as Morag Myerscough, the artist who designs and creates incredible public structures around the country from the Joy Pavilion in Sheffield Children’s Hospital, to a fort around Hadrian’s Wall. We collaborated for an event with TikTok and Habitat last year, did Stylist LIVE, worked on some projects with Place2be – a children’s mental health charity, and we also like to work with smaller charities who don’t always get the spotlight such as Mind Out and Nip Charity. It’s very rewarding knowing that our products and services can help people within the communities.
What’s one thing people would be surprised you do in your role?
Up until now, we have hand-painted and cut thousands upon thousands of colour chips for our trade clients and customers. During the time of developing the colours for our palette, I painted each colour onto massive paper swatches and rather than throw them away, we cut them into 6x3cm colour chips and produced a colour chip keyring. I think I’ve worked out that we have painted and hand cut approximately 12,000 colour chips over the past few years. This March, we are launching a new range of fan decks, colour chip sets and individual swatches. No more hand cutting tiny pieces of card. I think I may even miss it.
What does your ideal day off look like?
I have two daughters aged seven and five, so if I’m not working on YesColours, it will be time with the family, which will consist of heading to the roller disco where the girls are learning to skate, and even I am tempted to polish my boots off too. I tap dance every week and have done since I was six years old – but if I were to have a day off, for myself, for one whole day… vintage clothes and furniture shopping. I love finding something unwanted and giving it a new home. I’ve never been into mega trends, so I love to choose things which really sing to me.
What does the next year hold for you?
We have just launched Electric Red, which we have been planning for six months and it just so happens that there seems to be a red resurgence in fashion and popular culture right now, so it was unintentional perfect timing. We are also going to launch a whole new group of colours called the Mellow Collection, consisting of saturated shades with a hint of black which calms down the brightness of the hue but still remains bold and unabashed. I’ve already painted our loft room in Mellow Blue! We’ve also had huge success with our bestselling Electric Blue as an exterior masonry paint, so we plan to expand the colour range soon. People are becoming more experimental in their homes, which includes their outside spaces too.
Books I love: I love colour theory and historical colour reference books like the Palette Perfect books by Laura Wager. I could flick through those books for hours.
Creative Heroes: So many to choose from; Iris Apfel, Paul Smith, Pharell Williams, Sonia Delauney, Frank Auerbach. I love people who like to break the mould and set their own rules, or people who use colour as a personal and emotional tool for expression.
Shops I love: H&M, Beyond Retro, Rokit, Monki, Esska Shoes.