An interview with Sofia Czanik, the owner of Flower Girl, Singapore’s only distributor of Annie Sloan Chalk Paints
I never grew up doing DIY, had never painted a chair or tried to upcycle anything. Somehow though, visiting the Flower Girl store in Joo Chiat made me want to do all of that. It wasn’t just the pretty colours and the neatly stacked paint tins. Not the gorgeous stencilled door or the lovely door knobs (that were also very well priced). It was the entire package. The potential that I could now see for every piece of boring Ikea furniture that I had in my house. It was also meeting owner, Sofia, and speaking to her about how Flower Girl became her store and her dream.
While the name of her shop, Flower Girl, makes you think of flowers and horticulture, it is actually a store that distributes Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. If you’re a fan of shabby chic, fantastic colours and getting your hands a tiny bit messy, then this shop could be your haven of inspiration. Flower Girl does have potted orchids and they also do various workshops for flower arranging with selected florists but the draw of Sofia’s store is now in the Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. These little tins of magic can turn almost anything rather ordinary into something pretty special. We had a great time visiting her store and are really happy to bring you our interview with Sofia.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to take on Flower Girl?
In my early teens, growing up in a small town in South Africa, I fell in love with hand crafts. I would spend my afternoons baking, doing needle craft and painting small items as a way to try out different techniques that I had read about in books. I also painted my bedroom furniture three times in probably as many years! The love of doing something with my hands didn’t stop, it just evolved, depending on where we were living and how our family grew. I’ve dabbled in Amigurumi crochet, jewellery making, polymer clay sculpting, cake decorating, etc. I’m happy when I am creating something, and even more so when I have a chance to share that with other people. That’s really what led me to Flower Girl.
I developed a particular interest in furniture painting many years ago – and this led me to the previous owners of Flower Girl. This was because I knew they were the only Annie Sloan stockist in Singapore. I attended a few of their workshops both with the Chalk Paint and the flowers and I really enjoyed the concept. When it was time for them to leave Singapore and sell the business, I jumped at the chance. It was the equivalent of a candy store to a kid! It was my kind of candy!
Were you always familiar with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paints?
Yes, I knew about them from the books I would read in my teens on painting furniture and paint techniques. Annie (and yes, she is a real person) and her paint have been around for many years. She is not only an artist and decorator but also an author of over 20 books. I knew of her and her amazing paint long before I had a chance to use it. The paint was first developed 26 years ago and it is a global success with a proven formula.
How do the paints work?
The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is a versatile, fun and easy-to-use water-based paint. Annie created the paint all those years back because she was frustrated with the lack of paint options available . She was looking for a paint that could go on more or less anything – old and new wood, walls, metal, cement, bricks, etc. All with little or no preparation. Normally with other types of paints you have to sand a piece and prime it with a base coat before painting. With Annie’s paint you can choose your piece and your colour and get straight to work. In a few hours, your small project will be complete! Paint in the morning, wax and put it back in the afternoon. The wax protects your paint and adds durability. It is completely addictive and anyone from your DIY-er to the professional painter can enjoy it.
What sorts of things can you paint?
You can paint pretty much anything with Annie’s paint! The most common items painted in Singapore are of course pieces of furniture that, although still functional in a home, no longer fit the decor. With our expat postings we never know what the dimensions of the next home will be, so if you can change the look of an item instead of buying a new piece, you are not only saving money but you will enjoy being creative too!
The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint works equally well outdoors as it does indoors so wooden or metallic outdoor furniture can also be revamped. Other things that can also be painted are fabric, leather, ceramics, marble, lamp shades, glass… the possibilities are endless.
Do you have a favourite colour?
Every week I seem to change my mind! Also because the colours you see in the range, there are 34 in total, are not the only possibilities. One of the other very important properties of the Annie Sloan paint is that it has been formulated with very little black pigment which means you can mix the paints to create different colour options that keep their brightness without creating muddy brown paint! Unless you want to mix a brown of course! Over and above that, there are three different coloured waxes that can transform the look of the paint once again. So the possibilities are really endless.
What’s coming up for Flower Girl? Are there any workshops or lessons we can look forward to?
I run weekly workshops on how to use the paint. In these workshops I teach more advanced techniques and paint effects that can be created with this amazing paint. A customer can also request a Paint-a-Piece Workshop where I guide them to paint a piece together with me in the studio.
We also invite florists to run floral workshops in the studio throughout the year. These are also very popular and work very well with the painted furniture concept as you can use flowers to brighten your decor.
What would you say to anyone looking to take on a retail business.
Make sure it is something that you really enjoy and are passionate about as you spend a huge chunk of your time in the shop / business. It’s not all glamour and smooth sailing but the satisfaction of a happy and loyal customer makes it all worth it!
Thank you so much for talking to us, Sofia! I’m sure I’ll be there at your shop soon to ask your advice on making something pretty, or perhaps just to sit a while and look at your beautiful work.
The Flower Girl shop is located at 83 Joo Chiat Place, #01-02 Everitt Edge, Singapore 427800 and there is plenty of parking offstreet or at the public carpark a short stroll away. They are closed on Sunday and Monday but open from Tuesday – Friday 9:30am-3:30pm and Saturdays 10:00am – 3:00pm.
For more information:
83 Joo Chiat Place
#01-02 Everitt Edge
Images by Angela Manners.