Lisa Rickert discovered Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan while rebuilding her home after Katrina, ordered the English paint online, and changed her life.
She loved it so much that she took her MBA from Loyola, and her career experience in corporate supply management, and put them to work in a whole new venture.

And just like that, Annie Sloan Unfolded, the North American distributor of Annie Sloan finishes, was born!

As a gold supporting partner, Lisa and her crew of stockists from through
out the United States will staff the the Bonanza to share tips, let you test Chalk Paint and purchase products.
We thought you’d enjoy learning more about this design dynamo, and how her accidental business was born!

How did the name Annie Sloan Unfolded come about?
We are taking Annie Sloan, a world renowned artist, an incredible visionary with soon-to-be 25 books out, and unfolding her. Taking her to areas that may have a small or no understanding of who she is and what her talents are and what she’s done to launch these DIY products.Taking a best-kept secret and sharing it with the rest of the world.

Tell me about your home in New Orleans.

It’s actually new construction. My husband and I grew up in the area of the city called Lakeview. After we had our children we really wanted to come back to that area and pre-Katrina couldn’t afford it. This area had 9 to 12 feet of water, one of the heaviest hit areas of the city. My in-laws decided not to rebuild. So we did on their lot. Our house is kind of Euro in style from the outside and I wanted to bring that through the home. I found Annie’s book on “Creating the French Look.” That’s where my journey began, I was so inspired to use her paint to create this style for my home. I went on a search to find it and finally found a website and decided to ship six liters of paint. The first time I used it I was able to create so many beautiful finishes I thought, that’s what I have to have. I asked Annie why she is not here, and told her that she needed someone to launch her brand here.

Who manufactures your paint in the United States?
Davis Paint in Kansas City, Mo.

So, is your home finally redone?
(Laughter). I ended up getting pregnant and the end result is, a lot of the decorative painting I had planned to do did not get all done. I was literally painting my cabinets at seven and a half months. There are parts that still need to be finished. We moved in November of 2010.

Who’s “we”?
My husband, Scott; daughter Katelyn, 6; and son Christian, 1 and a half.

So your paint needs to stand up to wear and tear?! At the AS Unfolded workshop in Chicago in April, Annie told your story. Attendees could not believe the paint was holding up on kitchen cabinets.
Chalk Paint is throughout my home, on accessories, large pieces, cabinets, entertainment centers. We also have a dog, Prince, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. He knows his bones are in the cabinet and every day he goes and scratches at them! We have neighborhood children and pets all “using” the cabinets. We were going to have custom built, but the whole idea was by painting my own I could save half the cost. We ended up purchasing cabinets from a Chinese factory that were unassembled and inexpensive. They came with an almost plastic finish. I went right over it.

Tell me about the process.
I used a single coat of primer so i could distress and see white under it. Usually you don’t have to prime. I wanted white and AS didn’t have Pure White yet. I painted with Paris Grey and distressed it lightly so you can see a little of the white, then did two coats of clear wax and a little bit of the dark wax just, as people say, artfully applied, in certain areas of the door. Normally with cabinets we would recommend 2 to 3 coats of clear wax with 24 hours drying time between. With my kitchen I do wipe it down with Clorox wipes if I’m cooking with chicken. My vanities are painted as well. My little girl has black soled shoes and she stands on the stepstool and kicks the cabinet. If it doesn’t come off with soap and water I use a rag with little bit of clear wax on it. It’s really very durable.
The thing with wax is, if it begins to wear down you can always come over it with another layer of wax to freshen it up. That’s opposed to a varnish that over time begins to chip and peel and has to be stripped off. From a maintenance perspective it really makes sense. It’s going on almost two years and I have not yet put a new coat on; probably will this year. I just finished a master cabinet in my master bedroom. That was done in French Linen with a dark wax glaze over it; you can dilute our dark wax with a 50/50 mix of mineral spirits and it went directly over the paint.

Where else have you used Chalk Paint ?

Walls, accent pieces, beadboard in the half bathroom. Also in my daughter’s room. I used Emile and Old White. That is not waxed at all and she’s managed to keep it nice. I used to have a giant Graphite wall that we used as a chalk board when we were launching the business. In the office we have an entire wall painted with blocks of our colors, which is very true to Annie’s style. We actually do a gradation of colors mixed with Old White, on the wall.

Do you have a typical day?
In general our life is very fast-paced. I now have 10 employees and another five contracting employees in IT, legal, PR. I’ll do anything from addressing questions from customers dealing with legal issues, working with analysts on cash flow, with Annie developing new products; the fabric collection that comes out in a few weeks. It’s kind of like I’m running mentally 100 thousand hours. The best part of my job, hands down, is to talk to a customer coming on board who shares the excitement and passion for the products. In this economy and green movement, people want to transform rather than getting new.

Basket chandelier I purchased at Country Roads Antiques in Orange County, CA. I could not come home without it!

Do you incorporate flea market/junking finds in your home?
I have a mantel that is reclaimed New Orleans cypress that I Chalk Painted. I like to shop old antique stores and estate sales. I’m walking around my house looking right now and I can’t find one piece of furniture that wasn’t used. Oh, there is one that was raw wood, new. Otherwise they are all repurposed. My giant sideboard is finished in Coco and Paloma, a neutral taupey brown, with highlights of Old Ochre. My dining room table is a hand-me-down, a French antique from my father, probably Louis the XV style. I like to paint fixtures as well. I have an old brass sconce with a wash on it. With this paint, in most cases you don’t need to prime at all. The only time you need to is with shiny plastic.

Headboard made from an old Cypress New Orleans door from The Bank Architecturals,

What’s your most cherished find?
It would probably be my headboard, which is from an old New Orleans door. I got that from a salvage store in New Orleans called the Bank on Felicity Street.

A sideboard from Greg’s Antiques, painted by Virginia Weathersby of the Southern Institute of Faux Finishing in AS Paloma and Coco.

Do you have favorite junking haunts?
Several. The thing that is different a bit with New Orleans than what I find with some of my customers elsewhere is a lot of the furniture pieces we have here are considered antiques, so it is difficult to find things with a very, very low price unless you’re finding it in a thrift store and they don’t know what they have. Here are some of my favorites; they are not going to be $20 finds but they have great pieces. The River Road Flea Market is they type of place where I found old New Orleans shutters, both of them for $25; they are in my office.
Dop Antiques & Architecturals ($$$$)
300 Jefferson Hwy
New Orleans, LA 70121
Greg’s Antiques & Other Junk ($$$)
1209 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Bridge House Thrift ($$)
7901 Airline Drive
Metairie, LA

Do you repurpose your finds?
Besides the door headboard, I have a cornice in the bathroom that I turned into a shelf. I don’t know if I have anything like Ki with suitcases on the wall; haven’t been that successful in transforming junk. There are not that many things in my house that stay wood but the headboard did. In New Orleans, Cypress is a high-quality wood and we tend to be proud when we have Cypress pieces. Makes it more authentic to being in our region; we have Cypress trees in the swamps!

Will you be shopping the Bonanza?
I’ll be shipping things back! If I see stuff I will definitely load up. I do travel around the country to visit my customers and I never leave their shops without buying something. I have pieces throughout my home from different stockists’ shops. I see it and think of them.

Wreath made of an old French book. This was a birthday gift from Jane Drew of Creative Finishes Studio, AS stockist in New Orleans.

Have you ever been to Minnesota?
No! I had a friend live in Minneapolis and she would tell me how cold it is so I have this vision. I picture this vast open land with not a lot around it. Cold and openness!

Are you excited for Bonanza attendees to try your products?
Yes! We’ll hand them a brush to play with. They can test it out.

What’s your favorite paint finish?
The two-color distress.

And your favorite colors?
I have three. Old White goes with everything. So Paris Grey, French Linen and Old White. They would be followed by Old Ochre as a close fourth.

Any tips for making your Chalk Paint “go further”?

A good brush like the AS brush will help for a heavy first coat and then thinning with a little bit of water will glide on the paint for the second.

Faux trumeau mirror painted by Virginia Weathersby of the Southern Institute of Faux Finishing.

We’ve been asking our vendors this question for their online profiles. What would you save if the house were on fire?
Outside of my kids? I’d probably grab a trumeau miorror that my customer Virginia Weathersby painted for me in Chalk Paint. She is our stockist in Jackson, Miss.

If you couldn’t be doing this job, what would you do?
My dream is to one day open my own shop and do more painting and designing. The business has grown so fast!

Be sure to stop by and meet Lisa and her team of stockists while you’re at the Bonanza! They’re in the Main Building, next to the Information Booth, and ready to share their enthusiasm for Chalk Paint with you!


11 Responses

  1. Really enjoyed reading this post. We Stockists of Annie Sloan’s paint and product line are very proud of Lisa and the whole Annie Sloan Unfolded team…they always have our backs.

    Thanks for showcasing our lovely Lisa.

    Janet xox
    The Empty Nest

  2. What a beautiful home! I never tire of Lisa’s story about how she connected with Annie Sloan and how it became the business that it is today. The story and Lisa are so amazing and inspiring.

  3. Lynn@Chalk It Up Norcross – what a fantastic interview and yes Lisa is an amazing woman. She and Annie make an amazing team. We are blessed to be part of this amazing company!

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