With 55 million litres of paint waste generated each year in the UK, eco-conscious paint brand YesColours is looking to make a change. Founded in 2020 by John Stubbs and Emma Bestley, the UK’s most innovative new paint brand is targeted at a new generation of home improvers, its fully recyclable pouch aiming to cut consumer waste and stop paint tins from going straight to landfill.
Tell us about your careers before YesColours
J: For as long as I can remember, the interplay of design and the natural world has always been fascinating to me. I moved between architecture, digital design, retail, interior design and product design before Covid-19 hit the pause button on life. This felt like the perfect moment to change direction. I have always tried to balance my love of design with doing the right thing by the environment, so when the idea struck to do something completely original, and sustainable, I couldn’t help but run with it.
E: I have been obsessed with colour and interiors for as long as I can remember; I’ve worked in museums, fashion buying, events and advertising, but painting has always been my creative outlet and fills me with joy. I’m now lucky enough to work with colour and paint every day.
Emma, you have Grapheme Colour Synesthesia, how does this enhance your creative abilities?
E: Grapheme Colour Synesthesia means my brain merges senses, so I see colour and emotions in words, numbers, names and even days of the week. I sense colours all the time and have gained an understanding and knowledge of the psychology of colour and how this can impact wellbeing. This, rather humorously at YesColours, is what we now call my “superpower” and certainly comes in handy when doing colour consultations for our customers.
What made you want to come together to create YesColours? Was sustainability a key component from the beginning?
J: The initial idea was based around finding a solution to a common problem: trying to recycle paint tins. Currently, only 2% of paint waste gets recycled, with over 55 million litres of paint and 14,000 tonnes of tins going to landfill every year. So, I put my design experience into action and we innovated a completely new type of packaging, one that can be recycled in the home and save so much time and waste for our customers, and cut waste at the point of purchase. We were inspired to create a paint brand that changes the way we decorate for the better, without compromising on colour.
E: John and I have been friends for over 20 years, so John approached me to help develop the initial colour palette and from there it grew. I now lead our colour palette development, colour consultations and customer service. Being friends for that long means that there’s an immense amount of trust there which is critical, and we can get away with saying things to each other that might raise eyebrows elsewhere.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
J: Creating opportunities. There’s a lot of love and energy that’s gone into YesColours, but it is old-fashioned hard work that has led us to make new connections that allow us to realise our ambitions. When that happens, it’s the best feeling in the world. From meeting amazing advisors and investors to having incredible projects open up with some amazing artists, interior designers and influencers. There have been many “pinch-me” moments. We are incredibly proud to have recently won two awards within both the paint and sustainability sectors. There’s lots more to come as well, which makes it even more exciting.
E: The fact that every day is different, but the foundation is how we connect colour to community, spanning interior professionals, trade, events, hospitals, colour lovers, designers, schools, artists. We love how people have seen our palette as a chance to express themselves in their homes and to use it in public spaces to improve an environment. Colour is for everyone and it’s something we can all relate to and have wonderful experiences and memories of. We all see colours differently and we should celebrate that.
Tell us more about the YesColours colour palette, what makes it different?
E: The YesColours palette is born out of our love of travel and the world around us. We’re less trend-focused, and more about the personal connection to colour in real-life experiences, food and music. We have created colour collections grouped by feeling and style, which helps customers to remove some of the anxiety they feel about colour matching. The collections are grouped in emotive adjectives (Calming, Serene, Loving, Electric) and their hues all reflect their namesakes. Each group are intended to guide our customers in the right direction, choosing a colour not only based on appearance but feeling.
J: Our mission is to empower people to be confident in the colour choices they make and be led by their love of colour. We wanted to create a culturally diverse palette which speaks to everyone. Be proud of your individualism and celebrate colour, even if that colour is neutral, it doesn’t mean it lacks any more personality than the rest of them.
What can we expect from YesColours in the coming months?
J: On the product innovations side, we have some very important developments, plus we’ll be announcing some news with regards to our sustainability accreditations by the end of the year.
E: More colours are coming. We would love to create thousands of colours (I have approx. 875 hand-mixed colours in a large box in my office) but we didn’t want an overwhelming palette in terms of too much choice. We have a special collaboration with a brilliant interior brand coming soon for Spring/Summer 23 and we will be working with some very special artists to create incredible spaces for local communities.