Inspired by New Orleans, Local Paint Brand Expands Offerings and International Reach
NEW ORLEANS – Because her parents owned a hair salon in the French Quarter, Lisa Rickert grew up witnessing the highs and lows of becoming an entrepreneur.
And that lifestyle, she determined, was not for her.
“As a young child, I was terrified about running a business. I wanted nothing but financial stability in my life,” said Rickert.
After receiving a both bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from Loyola University in New Orleans, she found success working for Shell Exploration Co. and Entergy.
But Rickert experienced a change of heart in 2009, when an economic recession struck the country.
“As much as I was pouring myself into my positions in supply chain management for those large corporations, here in the city, my creative passion would not leave me alone,” said Rickert. “I fell in love with the idea of upcycling furniture.”
So in 2010, Rickert teamed up with her husband Scott Rickert and her brother Jason Mobley, and together they launched a paint company called Jolie Design & Décor, Inc.
“We all walked away from our careers and put everything into our own endeavor,” she recalled.
Six years later, they opened a second business called Ave Home, which sells modern furniture imbued with historic elements. The pieces are designed locally, and handmade with sustainably-sourced, high-quality materials, in Indonesia.
Although Jolie Design & Décor, Inc. ceased operations in November 2018, when its distribution agreement ended, the group quickly opened Jolie Home – a customer-focused boutique paint brand, fittingly based in the Arts District of New Orleans.
The company offers water-based, non-toxic, and low VOC paint, topcoats, embellishments, and paint tools. Their products are available online and through national and local retailers, including Creative Finishes and Furnishings on Metairie Road, and NOLA Gifts & Decor on West Esplanade Avenue.
This summer, Jolie Home launched a custom paint tint program, which comprises 42 pre-tinted colors that can be intermixed to create countless different hues. They also created a new color mixing guide, featuring 300 of Jolie Home’s “favorite color recipes” meant to make major renovation projects simple.
Jolie Home’s website features style inspiration sections and video tutorials.
“Our paint is absolutely the superior product on the market, because there’s no priming or sanding required. But really, what differentiates our company is our ability to guide consumers,” said Rickert. “People are apprehensive about creativity, unless they have experience in color or maybe have painted furniture before. It’s very important for me that we step the consumer through every stage of the creative transformation.”
Rickert plans to double Jolie Home’s distribution network and grow its staff within the next year. The company of fifteen employees currently conducts business throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but Rickert believes they can expand into the European market as well.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is to fail and grow proportionately,” she said. “When we started our first paint company (Jolie Design & Décor, Inc.), we were not in a position to incur any debt because we grew it very controlled. With Ave Home, I was able to put more capital into the business.”
Rickert explained that investing capital that the business cannot support carries a risk.
“If the business model is not set up appropriately and your strategies aren’t changing based on your revenue and your finances, you actually have a lot to lose,” she said.
Rickert, however, doesn’t believe that anything in life is an immediate success.
“For our first company, we grew 100-percent from the ground up,” she said. “I didn’t pay myself for a year. It took some time for me to walk away from my day job. But once we were committed, when all of our eggs were in one basket, we grew from there.”
Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is the associate news editor of BizNewOrleans.com.