CEO Nicole Gibbons Is On A Mission To Build A Billion-Dollar Paint Brand With ‘Clare’

Nicole Gibbons is painting her own picture of entrepreneurial success.

Clare CEO Nicole Gibbons is working hard to build a billion-dollar brand with her paint company. According to Fast Company, Gibbons launched Clare in 2018 after attracting interest from major DTC investors. She formatted her company to reflect the Sherwin-Williams and PPG direct-to-consumer companies. “I believe that we have the opportunity to be that next legacy paint brand that’s around for 150 years,” she said.

Gibbons witnessed significant demand for her Clare supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. A surge in consumers came about due to the quarantine that had many homeowners stuck indoors and seeking interior DIY projects to remodel their spaces. “We went from being small to having so much demand,” Gibbons said. “Even if we wanted to go into [physical] retail in 2021, we couldn’t make enough paint.” The company’s sales grew by 550% at the time.

Clare’s $2 million seed round saw investments from Warby Parker backer First Round Capital and Bullish, an investor in Peloton, and Harry’s razors. Warby Parker cofounder Jeff Raider and Harry’s cofounder Andy Katz-Mayfield also participated. “I’ve raised in total $12 million,” Gibbons said. “That’s like Sherwin Williams’ cafeteria budget, probably.”

Clare’s site offers customers a simple experience where she recommends the best supplies suitable for their interior design needs through a series of questions. Clare customers can test peel-and-stick samples for their walls. Collections include paint brushes, primers, and other tools for beginners and paint experts.

Gibbons’ company is not as high in demand as it was during the pandemic. However, she still reaps the benefits of the brand awareness she received at the time.

Gibbons has focused on building wealth within her community by seeking Black investors. “At the time, there were a handful of Black investors, but many of them were writing smaller checks,” she said. Gibbons met Robbie Robinson of Pendulum Holdings investment firm that led her $8 million series A in 2022. Walking into meetings with Pendulum has opened Gibbons up to experience a room full of Black and Brown investors.

The current focus for Clare, which has around eight full-time employees, is growing sustainably. Gibbons is seeking distribution partnership deals to get her paint onto store shelves and expand into new accessory categories.

Prices for Clare supplies have currently increased due to inflation.