A version of the following story was originally published in Invest New West, a magazine about the city’s economic development.
The FAT Paint Company is a New Westminster success story.
It started on a kitchen counter when Victoria Lambert and her brother, Bradford, were refinishing some furniture pieces.
Bradford worked in the film industry and he was familiar with a technique of mixing paint and chalk used by set decorators to give wood a weathered, authentic look. The chalk paint, known in the biz as “fat paint,” was versatile, easy to work with, dried quickly.
The refinished furniture pieces were a hit. The siblings decided to can their paint, and share their technique.
Today the Lamberts and their staff develop, mix, can and market their FAT Paint from a 3,065-square-foot production facility in a converted auto repair garage at the foot of 11th Street. More than 100 retailers across North America, from St. John’s, Newfoundland to San Antonio, Texas to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, sold 357,359 cans of their paint last year.
FAT Paint is available in nine provinces and 14 states, with plans to expand overseas in 2017.
But much of the work to make FAT Paint is still done by hand.
Until a recent move to automate the mixing process, the chalk and paint were combined in an old, repurposed industrial bread mixer.
Pouring the paint into 1-litre cans, sealing the lids and affixing the brand’s distinctive black and white labels gets the human touch.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Shelby Mattin-Abbott glues labels to cans at The FAT Paint Company’s 3,065 square foot production facility in an old converted auto repair garage.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Wandell hoists a fresh batch of FAT Paint to be poured into 1-litre cans.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Fresh cans of FAT Paint await lids.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Labels are affixed to sample jars of FAT Paint.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Jamie Wandell pours a freshly-mixed batch of FAT Paint into a drum. The ratio of chalk to paint varies with each colour.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL “Fat paint” is especially popular in the film industry because the combination of chalk and paint creates a weathered look that’s easy to apply and dries quickly.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Mattin-Abbott seals cans that have been filled with paint.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL The FAT Paint Company’s palette is now comprised of more than 40 colours.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Until The FAT Paint Company recently upgraded to a more automated mixing process, all the mixing was done in an old industrial bread mixer.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Drips of paint on a mixing can become an abstract work of art.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Jamie Wandell combines the chalk and paint in a old industrial bread mixer. The FAT Paint Company recently upgraded to a more automated mixing process to keep up with the demand for its paint. Wandell has moved to Regina to study and play football at the University of Regina.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Victoria Lambert and her brother Bradford started The FAT Paint Company on a kitchen table in 2012, mixing their chalk paint in an old KitchenAid mixer. Their FAT Paint is now available at more than 100 retailers across North America with plans to go international in 2017.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Mattin-Abbott prepares sealed cans for labelling.
PHOTO BY MARIO BARTEL Mixing FAT Paint is heavy, sometimes messy, work.