I hope everyone took a little break, to settle back and enjoy the presence of the season….
I’m so last minute – shopping, planning, wrapping, table setting – this year I was the host for our family gathering. Once the last day of work ended I TUNED OUT work and shifted my focus to home life.
Thank you God, for all your good blessings…
Unfortunately, we received a spirit dampening phone call from CeCe Caldwell earlier this month – one of our clay/mineral/chalk based paint suppliers.
In a nutshell, the phone call:
“So sorry but you gotta choose – us or them (any ‘like product or competitor” must go) – you have until Dec 15th to decide…
Let me back up and explain – In the beginning, CeCe Caldwell set herself apart from other companies, by not forcing EXCLUSIVITY on their retailers –
“… we would never tell you that you cannot carry other brands or lines. “
It worked like this –
Hey, we’d love you to have you carry only our kind of paints/finishes, and if you do we’ll give you an exclusive territory. IF you choose to carry other, similar, products/finishes you will NOT have an exclusive territory BUT you can still sell the CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and we hope that you will continue to do so.
So, whats this “So sorry but you gotta choose – us or them (any ‘like product or competitor” must go) – you have until Dec 15th to decide… mean?
Well, now they are demanding EXCLUSIVITY from their retailers. For Fabulous Finishes Studio that means keep CeCe Caldwell but get rid of American Paint Company, and get rid of Beautiful (a line of topcoats/finishes). They claim Caromal Colours is ‘okay’. Really? For how long? Until you decide, months from now, that they are also a threat to you?
I was floored… I’ve been on board with CeCe since early times. I’ve helped market and promote their products, blogging, video’ing, teaching …. I’ve sold big for them, and even when I brought on American Paint Company in April, my sales did not decline one penny. So why this sudden ultimatum? You are requiring your retailers to ONLY carry your products? No competing ‘like’ products, no competing topcoats, waxes, glazes?
They didn’t offer much of a reason – other than ‘customers are confused’. At what? Options? Different waxes or topcoats? Differences in paint? We answer questions all the time – I wouldn’t describe our customers, or those inquiring as ‘confused’, instead I’d say they want to be educated – ‘what is this?’ what is that?’ what is the difference?’
IS that so bad?
“So sorry but you gotta choose – us or them (any ‘like product or competitor” must go) – you have until Dec 15th to decide…
I was going to just make my decision, and move forward, whats done is done, water under the bridge, blah blah blah ….but I feel I owe a truthful explanation to my customers and readers – as to why I chose to end my retail relationship with CeCeCaldwell.
#1) I don’t like EXCLUSIVITY. Not in this business. My career in paints and finishes started years ago with Faux Effects, a great line of professional faux finishing products. Their retailers were forced to be exclusive. I walked away from that first week of training, believing that Faux Effects was the do all end all in faux finishing products – the ONLY products that would allow me to create that ultimate finish.
A year later I decided to attend a decorative products convention in Chicago. There I was introduced to more manufacturers than I can remember – I felt like a kid in a candy store! It was freeing, and exciting, seeing other products, other possibilities…. it didn’t mean I was DITCHING Faux Effects – they had some excellent products, and those I NEVER wavered from – buy I appreciated options, and if another product line had a better ‘option’ then I’d grab it.
Head into a Home Depot or Lowes, and ask something simple like ‘ whats the best topcoat for a painted floor?’ – and they’ll tell you. They’ve got many brands/products to choose from, but they’ll give you their educated answer of what they prefer and why.
That is me. That is true to me. Honesty. Guidance. Direction. Helping a homeowner get from A to B the easiest way, with the best results.
Fabulous Finishes carries a number of product lines – Caromal Colours,
CeCe Caldwell, American Paint Company, Beautiful… Some customers order only CeCe products – some only APC – they know what they like, and that’s perfect, and easy for us. Others may decide they want to try something different, it might be a color, a texture, it might be different topcoat – it might be that they want to re-create a finish that they saw in our store – we’ve got those folks covered too.
EXCLUSIVITY serves CeCe Caldwell, not the customer.
#2) I can’t promote products I don’t believe in.
I had to decide which products I could go the long haul with – CeCe Caldwell or American Paint. The paints, to me, are similar enough – both zero voc, all natural, with a mineral clay and chalk base – which I prefer. CeCe adds a ‘secret ingredient’ to thin it down, American keeps their formula unaltered (if I want it thinned down I add my own water 🙂 ) . A good number of colors are dead ringers for each other
AMERICAN PAINT CO : CE CE CALDWELL
UNCLE SAM : SIMPLY WHITE
HOME PLATE : VINTAGE WHITE
SMOKE SIGNAL : SEATTLE MIST
FREEDOM ROAD : PITTSBURGH GRAY
WILD HORSES : VIRGINIA CHESTNUT
RUSHMORE : YOUNG KANSAS WHEAT
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN : CALIFORNIA GOLD
BEACH GLASS : DESTIN GULF
NATIONAL FOREST : MICHIGAN PINE
DOLLAR BILL : SMOKEY MOUNTAIN GRAY
DESERT CACTUS : CINCO BAYOU MOSS
CANNON BALL : BECKLEY COAL
The rest of the colors of each line are unique. Having used CeCe paints for 2 years, I was more accustomed to their paint color palette, as were my customers. I would have said the company with the edge on colors liked was CeCe – except several things happened-
- CeCe discontinued Texas Prairie. And Portland Rose. And Mesa Sunset. And Mississippi Mud. Those were some of my favorites….
- and American Paint Company introduced 12 new European inspired colors, in The Ellis Collection –
Crushed Tea, Waistcoat, Peacock, and Voyage are intoxicating… Leather Boots is FINALLY a real brown….. Limoges, watered down, is my previous favorite CeCe Dover White. Cameo is the softest, palest perfect pink, even better than my much loved discontinued CeCe Portland Rose – because its truly pale pink, no touch of peach.
So PAINT wise, both lines would be my choice if I was looking to use the chalk/clay/mineral base DIY easy paints – they both deliver with with a clay mineral chalk base, and are both ALL green with ZERO voc’s. Colors – well I reviewed that above, but as of now APC has more colors at the top of my ‘go to’ list. I could, and would have, still promoted them both – equally.
The FINISHES, on the other hand, are a different story. The FINISHES are what made my decision to move forward with American Paint an easy one…
When CeCe Caldwell debuted, they offered the Clear Wax, a Dark Aging Wax (now called Aging Creme) and Satin Finish (a non wax topcoat option). In early 2013 they changed where they were getting their supply. Ever since, the Clear Wax and Satin Finish have been, it seems, less available. To combat this, CeCe came up other topcoat options to offer – Waxing Creme and the Endurance Finish (a non wax LOW VOC topcoat option).
American Paint Company hit the market in Spring 2013. Their FINISHES lineup included a Vintage Clear Wax, Vintage Dark Wax, and Topcoat Finish (a non wax topcoat option).
This is how I explain the finishes:
- CeCe’s original Clear Wax is the same wax as American Paint Company’s Vintage Clear Wax. Same wax different label. It makes sense, APC’s parent company was CeCe’s original supply chain. IMO its the best all natural wax on the market. I promoted both equally – it has no smell, glides on freely, dries fast, and buffs to a lovely sheen. For me, I can’t use these paints without having one of these waxes.
- CeCe’s Waxing Creme is their newer wax. I am not a fan of this wax, I dont care for the smell, I don’t find it as easy to use, and even though its deemed ‘natural’ I feel like its not. I know – there are people writing reviews on how they LOVE the waxing creme, how they think its BETTER than the original Clear Wax … which of those reviews ARENT from a CeCe Retailer? Is THIS the wax that is forefront, because CeCe’s Clear Wax will soon be phased out? I was actually told I WAS PROBABLY NOT NOT USING THIS WAX PROPERLY, IF I KNEW HOW TO USE IT RIGHT, I’D LOVE IT… Seriously? Let’s put my skill level of finishing, and product education up against yours, and decide who is more apt to know HOW to apply a wax to a paint finish.
- CeCe’s Dark Aging Creme , is nothing like American’s Vintage Dark Wax. CeCe’s Dark Aging Creme is an altered version of the Clear Wax ( Olive Oil is added, not sure what else) but it doesn’t dry completely, it doesn’t buff to as shiny a wax sheen. We’ve had user complaints from it. I haven’t been a fan since day 1. American Paint Co’s Vintage Dark Wax -it’s JUST like the Clear Wax, only with tint added… it dries quick, and buffs to a nice sheen, JUST like the Clear Wax, only its tinted. Winner, APC, hands down.
- CeCe’s Satin Finish is like American Paint Company’s Topcoat Finish, only APC’s Topcoat Finish is better. They both are great all natural EASY options to waxing, offering a hard topcoat when it cures. I never used the Satin Finish full strength – it was too thick for my liking, but you were allowed to dilute it, and dilute it I did. My customers loved the Satin Finish (which I think is also on it’s way out…) American’s Topcoat Finish came on board and went viral. It was literally like brushing on water. There was no need to water it down, to lessen the thickness – it was perfectly easy right out of the container. Not diluting it meant another thing – it was more durable than the Satin Finish. End result? If I have APC Topcoat I use that, if I’m out I’ll use CeCe Satin Finish. Both are great all natural topcoat options for absorbent paints.
- CeCe Caldwell Endurance Finish – an alternative To Satin Finish, that isn’t all natural zero voc. To be honest, I haven’t put much time and effort into using it – there are so many ”low voc’ topcoat options (Beautiful offers a good selection) – I prefer the all natural options. I prefer EASY. Brush on. Dry. Brush on again. The Endurance label is daunting:
Up to six layers can be used for the ultimate protection of a surface. To apply, always work in the direction of the grain, using a foam brush, staining pad or high quality synthetic brush. Apply thin, even layers. Allow each layer to dry completely prior to application of the next layer. After every second layer, lightly sand with a very fine sandpaper or piece of brown kraft paper. Burnish your final coat with a piece of brown kraft paper (a grocery bag is great, low cost source of kraft paper, but use unprinted side). Use 4-6 layers on surfaces such as a the tops of a family dining table, coffee table or end table.
You lost me after ‘six layers’.
So, back to the #2) I can’t promote products I don’t believe in.
If I chose to stay with CeCaldwell, I’d be fine promoting the paints. Even if I knew for certain they were keeping the Clear Wax and Satin Finish. But my gut tells me those 2 products aren’t going to be around for long. So……
could I confidently retail CeCe Paints and ‘Waxing Creme and ‘Endurance Finish’ and ‘Dark Aging Creme’ as my only topcoat options?
I move forward, with American Paint Company, and Caromal Colours, and Beautiful – a fabulous mix of colors,textures, ultimate finish options… 2014 will be a fun ride – we’re creating interest, and excitement, and I’m honored to be a part of that.
I wish all my CeCe Caldwell customers the best – we all are entitled to our own opinions, and I realize that some are dedicated to 100% CeCe Caldwell. Hopefully if you are one of them, PLEASE take advantage of our CECE CALDWELL PRODUCTS SALES – discounting it all until its gone. (check our online store for full options)
Best Wishes for a Creative 2014! Happy Painting!
If you’re in the Metro Detroit stop by and visit-
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