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Megan Shave (Founder) and Jessica Ellis (Marketing + Operations) run Simply Colour, an innovative online-only paint brand. The duo, who are literally bringing colour to South Africans, are the antithesis of an archaic, outdated hardware store. Here’s what they’re all about…

Democratising the paint industry

The powerhouse duo want everyone to feel empowered to buy paint and colour without stressing that they “can’t”. “We’re passionate about people understanding how important colour is for your mood and how it affects your mental health… [Adding] colour to a space will transform not only the space, but [your] mental wellbeing as well,” says Megs.

And it doesn’t stop there… “We’re also passionate about combatting GBV. [So] we donate paint to GBV shelters to ensure that these sanctuaries are not cold and stark. As places of refuge, we believe these shelters should benefit from the healing power of colour. Paint shouldn’t be a luxury only afforded to those with the financial means,” says Jess.

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The AI Bot that changed the game

The duo taught themselves to code and created an AI Bot to help you choose the perfect colour. They also created the first in SA “peel + stick” swatches so you can sample your colour – sans mess or stress.

“We built this brand to be inclusive, empowering, inspiring and simple,” they say. “We found that outdated paint brands don’t appeal to the needs of the modern consumer and they certainly don’t consider the environment in which their products are sold…

“Women are as important a customer base as men and yet, when going into hardware stores, there is always that implicit – and explicit – sexism which deters women from shopping there.”

Simply Colour wants to make paint for everyone. It’s not as daunting as people think. It’s just been designed and marketed in such an archaic and elitist way that people don’t feel empowered to purchase it.

Paint your own canvas

Neither Megs nor Jess studied paint or had any idea they would end up creating a paint brand or working in this sector. But they’re both passionate about design, the digital world and marketing – so they leveraged those interests and educated themselves… and it worked!

And great advice to pass on? “We’re also only starting out, so we are by no means experts on running an e-commerce brand – but we’re both avid researchers and keen to learn,” they say. “So our advice would be to seek out information and absorb and follow trends you see internationally. This is the biggest entry into our industry. [Because SA lags] behind in many aspects when it comes to online shopping trends, there’s a lot of room for innovation and growth.”

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Heads up – they’re offering internships!

Jess and Megs are looking to expand their internship programme and encourage graduates to come and disrupt their brand and the industry with them.

“We’re always learning and always changing the way we do things – because we’re the only brand of our kind in SA. As such, we need to be innovative and reach consumers in new ways, constantly. We look for interns who aren’t afraid to tell us where we need to focus more attention, how we can disrupt better and what we can make a new focus point for us. We are not looking for interns who just want to learn; we want interns who want to grow and teach us too. Graduates have a wealth of knowledge, [they] aren’t cynical and don’t suffer from [the] tunnel vision that many employees do. They’re fresh with ideas and that is something that every industry – especially ours – can benefit from,” says the duo.

Underlying sexism in the paint industry…

Women are underpaid, undervalued and overlooked in every industry. “[The fact that] we’re the first women-led paint brand should be the biggest indicator that, like most industries, [the paint industry is] dominated by men and made for men. Our growth, luckily, is dependent on how our brand does, but we are in a unique situation as we are the only ones working at our brand. But we do still answer to a board of directors and most of them are men,” says  Jess.

“I do think that there is a massive need for more women in the paint industry, but the reality is that it’s not an industry that appeals to women as it’s rife with underlying sexism,” adds Megs.

Women are always deemed “the homemakers” – yet when you go into a hardware store you are belittled and made to feel stupid. So, these businesswomen aren’t surprised women don’t feel inclined to seek paint out as a career if their experience purchasing the product is so unbearable. “We hope our brand eliminates this inequality,” they say. “It’s a small brand, yes, but as we grow we hope to employ a team of women who are as passionate about bringing colour and change into the lives of fellow South Africans [as we are].”

READ MORE: 4 Things You DON’T Need To Be In Order To Be A Good Leader

Financial lessons they’ve learnt along the way

Save more and invest

You never know what the future will bring. “We had a pandemic that no one ever thought would happen. So save because you never know what or when life is going to throw a curveball your way. Have a nest egg or rainy day fund for when those days come.”

Learn more about investing

Each month, put a little cash into shares. You’ll feel self-empowered and you’ll grow your money.

Connect with Megan Shave and Jessica Ellis


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