biz ladiesLife & Business

Biz Ladies: Annie Sloan of Chalk Paint

by Stephanie

Biz Ladies Profile: Annie Sloan
Image above by Penny Millar

As a trained painter and artist, Annie Sloan knew the medium well. So when she went looking for a specific type of paint and came up empty, she knew to take matters into her own hands. Now nearly 25 years later, Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint has become a standard in furniture and decorative painting and her more than 20 books have gone on to educate the masses on the vast world of paint techniques. Today, Annie shares a bit about her journey in the decorative field and all that she has learned along the way. –Stephanie

Read the full interview after the jump…

Biz Ladies Profile: Annie Sloan

Why did you decide to start your own business?
One of the reasons I decided to start my own business was to spend my time with my children. The flexible hours meant I could be at school plays, music events and be home in the evenings. Now that they are much older, all I seem to do is work! My middle son Felix, his partner Lizzy, and my husband also work in business.

When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
My business started in 1989, it grew from my passion for paint. It’s important to love what you do. My paint, Chalk Paint ™ was developed because I needed a paint that was very quick and easy to use and without any preparation required.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
I didn’t get any advice when I first started out. What I did learn is that the best person who knows the most about your business is you. It took me awhile to figure this out, mind you. My ideas were so unconventional, they didn’t fit in with the usual business plan.

Biz Ladies Profile: Annie Sloan

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
I had a very strong vision, I understood the importance of being communicative, but putting this into a workable structure took a lot of effort. Learning how margins work was also something I found difficult.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
The biggest lesson would have to be to trust your gut, always go with your initial instinct. Do what you want to do and not what you think you should be doing.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
The most important thing is to learn from all your failures. If you ever have any doubt listen to yourself. Over the years I have trusted people who have talked the talk and made promises that they never delivered.

Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
Using the distinctive logo of my hands which I drew in 1972 is something I am incredibly proud of. It has set it apart from others and it was my gut instinct that told me to use it. I am also incredibly proud of that fact my paint is only stocked in independent brick-and-mortar shops worldwide. I am in daily contact with all my stockists and train all my stockists. My products are now stocked in Japan and Dubai, which I just find incredible.

Biz Ladies Profile: Annie Sloan

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I have never relied upon any books and resources. It’s important to remember nobody knows who you are – you need to tell the world exactly who you are and what you are about. I heavily rely upon social media to communicate directly with my consumers. I think as a business owner, being on social media is essential.

In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
You need to remember in business you are never without problems, so be prepared to constantly be problem solving.

Running your own business is a 24/7 job. Hopefully you manage to take a break and switch off once and a while.

Running your own business is so rewarding. It has allowed me to be creative and and taught me so much about life, you can see it on every level.

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  • I’ve heard of her products, but never tried them. This interview makes me want to go out and buy a can!! Love the look of her shop. So cute.

  • This should be a must read for anyone starting a new business. Sloan’s opinions are spot on. Rely on yourself. Be ready to solve problems. Know that your own business is 24/7. This kind of honesty is so refreshing!

  • “Do what you want to do and not what you think you should be doing.” – love that! Also love the packaging for her paint. Definitely one of the reasons I would pick it off the shelf :)


  • I love using Chalk Paint so easy to use. Thank you Annie Sloan for a great paint and for your inspirational words!

  • Another great interview! Thanks, I love these! Trust your gut, I heard it over and over.

  • So glad you profiled Annie Sloan. I’ve used her paint on several client projects and they all turned out fabulous. Thanks Annie for creating your business and sharing your story!

  • Thanks for featuring a woman of a certain age. Woman like Ms. Sloan have paved the way for the rest of us. I’ll echo what the others have said. She’s an inspiration.

    • Ruth-Anne

      Featuring women (all people, really) of a wide range of ages is a big goal of mine. I have a lot lined up for this fall to highlight amazingly talented women who are both older and younger than our average reader.

      Grace :)

  • So thrilled to see Annie Sloan profiled, I love her paint and have done so many projects with it…they all turned out really well. That is due to the ease of using the paint and the way it dries, you almost cannot go wrong. And to those commenting about her age, do remember that it was much harder for women when she started than it is at the present time! You go Annie and thanks for doing such a great job.

    • Susannah

      I don’t think anyone commenting on Annie’s age is doing so in a negative light- I think quite the opposite. I’ve received many requests, like the ones in the comment section here, from people who’d like to see more women like Annie profiled. I heartily agree and think Annie has done an incredible job building her brand.


  • I love this interview.
    Me too I started my own business for my family project.
    I’m totally agree with Annie about passion.
    Passion can lead you everywhere.
    I want to be a succesful person in the future. Exactly like her.
    Great article.

  • Annie and my love for her Chalk Paint® brought me out of retirement to start a new business at age 61. Us “seasoned” gals are fearless risk takers with decades of experience and the 24/7 work keeps the heart and body young and creativity flowing.