Kim Vance: Creating Color in a Whole New Way
On this episode of The Lounge, Kim Vance of Whyte and Company joins us from Dallas to talk about creating color in a whole new way: in sinks! Kim discovered a niche that didn’t previously exist and then filled it by manufacturing colorful sinks. Nick and Kim originally met at ICFF.
How it all started
Kim didn’t have any sort of background in plumbing but was actually a marketing person. One day she and her girlfriend started talking about how fun a colorful sink would be and googled ‘purple sink’, but nothing came up! Unless it was glass or old, a purple sink was nowhere to be sold in the USA or in Europe. Kim pondered why we can order a spatula from Amazon and receive it on the same day, but we can’t buy a purple sink. The sink industry’s colors were so limited that they were essentially black, white, gray, beige, beige, and beige. So why was no one doing it?
Kim decided to take matters into her own hands. Now for the first time in 40 years, color is taking over plumbing in over 30 standard colors, but this time in an updated, clean, European inspired look. And people are ready for it. Not only do designers LOVE it but the clients are reaching out to designers because they HAVE to have it.
With no plumbing background, Kim had to learn all about sinks, sink manufacturers, and all of the who? what? where? when? how? questions of the sink industry. Today, she can’t believe how fun product design really is and loves inventing amazing colors with her “colorista” team (including Kerrie Kelly, and Michel Boyd).
Originally, Kim dove right in and began manufacturing in Mexico but after realizing how important quality control is, she moved her team to the U.S. All of the sinks are made to order with only a 4 week turn around, and while there are standard designs and colors, Kim says,”if you can dream it we can make it.” Custom is the word. If there are quirky spaces and niches to fill, she can do it and at the SAME price point. The solid surface material that they use is so malleable that it costs the same to manufacture, meaning there’s no upcharge on them or YOU. Their style suits contemporary to transitional.
The hardest thing early on was figuring out the properties of the materials. Making sure they are durable and won’t chip was very important to Kim, so she had to figure out what could and couldn’t be done with the materials from both a color and a design perspective.
Kim tells us that the color white is the encapsulation of all color- she wanted a name with meaning that felt relatable. Growing and getting your name out there is definitely a challenge. She was nervous about being able to sell color to the clients and not just to designers, but clients have been the ones most excited about it. A lot of people find them through Instagram.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Kim’s favorite color, it’s the first color she fabricated and a customer favorite. The most sought after color though is Sweet Plum by Lisa Escobar which is very popular for small urban spaces. Shay Blue is a cobalt blue and also very popular. Blush is the most requested sample, and not just for kids spaces.
What the business looks like today
Whyte and Company have only been selling since January so 6 months in, it’s still early. She’s thrilled that people are stopping in their tracks at the showrooms to look at the sink. People are very excited about using color and having another dimension to it. No one can compete with it! People are actually getting excited about plumbing, who knew that would ever happen? Kim’s advice? Don’t install these sinks in your bathroom if you don’t want everyone who goes through to take a sink selfie.
Whyte and Company sell to the trade, so not directly to clients, but they are carried by build.com and you can go to their website and apply to be a member of the trade.
E-mail email@example.com if you have any questions and learn more at www.whyteandcompany.com
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