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Painters Business Academy 2023 Recap

At the Painters Business Academy 2023, we witnessed the flourishing of metallic finishes, a palpable allure of textured paints, and a continued love for colour blending. Innovations shone brightly with Annie Sloan’s thrilling collaborations and WoodUbend’s latest offerings.

Flip Runway Distribution proudly presented a broad range of products, with the Cling On S50 brushes becoming an instant hit. Our interactions ranged from the delightful Roy and John from Euro Finishes to the passionate Brandy from “Brushed by Brandy,” hinting at future collaborations.

Yet, the event wasn’t just about showcasing products. It reminded us of the need for platforms where artisans can grow and connect. We’re now more committed than ever to expand our initiatives and foster this community.

Looking ahead, the anticipation for PBA 2024 is already mounting. Join us on this exciting journey into the future of furniture artistry!

For a detailed dive into my experience, the trends, and the connections I made, continue reading below.

As the echoes of the lively chatter, the clinking of paintbrushes, and the mirth of newfound connections begin to fade, I take a moment to let the experiences of the 3rd Annual Furniture Painter’s Conference in Surrey truly sink in.

Nestled in the heart of Surrey from the 1st to the 3rd of September, 2023, the Painter’s Business Academy unfolded as a pivotal hub for artisans, craftsmen, and aficionados alike. 

The ambience was electric, laden with hues of creativity, innovative techniques, and the shared dedication of passionate artisans. 

This wasn’t just another event; it was a dedicated symposium for the development, elevation, and support of the UK Refinishing and Upcycling Industry.

Sarah and Kate’s visionary initiative made these two days more than just a conference. The Painter’s Business Academy was a journey—of discovery, collaboration, and inspiration. Their unwavering dedication to crafting a space both nurturing and enlightening for all furniture painters resonated deeply. Over the last seven years I have  witnessed their evolution, from enthusiastic entrepreneurs to pillars of the industry, and to share in their legacy, was profoundly humbling.

Held in the beautiful Surrey, this two-day conference was all about supporting and growing the Refinishing and Upcycling Industry in the UK. And trust me, it delivered on that promise.

Why the Painters Business Academy is Crucial for the Furniture Painting Industry

The Painters Business Academy, founded by Sarah and Kate, stands as a guiding star in the furniture painting world. These two have journeyed from being passionate hobbyists to renowned business leaders, and they’ve poured all that experience into this event.

They understand the unique hurdles faced by small business owners in our field. And that’s what PBA addresses. It’s an event packed with insights, practical tips, and essential tools to help attendees amplify their business. The success stories of Sarah and Kate, fuelled by community support and access to the right resources, showcase the potential waiting to be unlocked.

But it’s more than just a conference. It’s their way of giving back. They want every artist and business owner to thrive, just as they did. PBA offers a chance to learn from the best, while also connecting with peers and building lasting relationships. For anyone looking to dive into or expand their furniture painting business, this event is the ideal starting point.

Flip Runway Distribution at PBA 2023: My Reflections

The Journey to PBA 2023

While the Painters Business Academy has always been an event close to my heart, my journey over the past couple of years made it difficult to attend. Two years ago, I faced an unexpected challenge – a dislocated shoulder and a torn rotator cuff. The recovery was both physically and mentally taxing. Just as I was regaining my strength, life threw another curveball at me. Last year, I was diagnosed with kidney and gallbladder disease.

Both these incidents forced me to step back and prioritise my health. Missing out on the first two PBAs was hard, especially given how much I value the community and the learning that this conference offers. However, health always comes first, and I knew that our community would understand.

Then, as I was gearing up for this year’s event, I faced yet another hurdle – four protruding discs, one especially aggravating and compressing my cauda equina nerve roots and a diagnosis of severe spinal stenosis. It felt like life was testing my resolve.

But this year, despite all odds, I was determined to be present. I wanted to reconnect, dive deep into the enriching world of furniture painting, and cherish every moment. Being at PBA 2023 was like returning home, and I can’t thank everyone enough for making it so memorable.

Our Special Role at PBA 2023

When Greg and I learnt about this year’s PBA, we knew immediately that Flip Runway Distribution had to be involved. Becoming sponsors was a natural decision for us. For us, it’s not just about providing paints; it’s about supporting and promoting the creativity of artisans. We’ve always seen our role as more than just suppliers. We’re here to support painters in their transition to successful business owners.

Why Sponsorship Felt Right

Being a sponsor at PBA wasn’t just a business decision; it was a heartfelt choice. It bridged the gap between imagination and enterprise. The event allowed us to reconnect with familiar faces, introduce ourselves to newcomers, and engage with dynamic brands and influencers in our sector. Above all, it reinforced the bonds uniting our spirited community of furniture painting aficionados.

Celebrity Furniture Artists at PBA 2023: A Glimpse

Annie Sloan: The trailblazer behind the invention of chalk paint, Annie’s expertise in painted furniture is second to none. With a wealth of knowledge that has transformed furniture painting, her presence at the Painters Business Academy has been eagerly anticipated since her debut. Her enduring commitment to quality and innovation has made her a trusted voice in our industry. Dive deeper into her world at AnnieSloan.com.

Brandy from Brushed by Brandy: Her artistic journey began with refurbishing a left-behind bedroom set in 2016. This sparked a business that’s now booming, where she often collaborates with her customers to design statement pieces. Brandy’s approach is blended, smooth, and vibrantly colourful. Find her masterpieces at brushedbybrandy.com.

Cait Whitson: As a powerhouse in the world of decorative painting, Cait Whitson has made a significant mark. Known for her intricate techniques and her ability to transform ordinary surfaces into pieces of art, Cait’s name is synonymous with craftsmanship and quality. Over the years, she has dedicated herself to sharing her expertise through workshops and tutorials, becoming a beacon for budding artists and professionals alike.

Jennylyn Pringle: The mastermind behind Fusion Mineral Paint, Jennylyn has revolutionised the modern furniture painting industry with her eco-conscious and easy-to-use product line. Her commitment to delivering high-quality, user-friendly products is commendable. Having her roots deep in the painting community, Jennylyn’s innovative vision has been a beacon for both seasoned artisans and those just venturing into the world of furniture refinishing. Dive deeper into her innovations at Fusion’s official site fusionmineralpaint.com


Jonathon Marc Mendes of Painted Love: Residing between Lincolnshire’s coast and countryside, Jonathon is a multi-talented furniture artist, photographer, and part-time hairdresser. His collaborations with Annie Sloan and international workshops manifest his deep passion for the craft. Explore his journey at jonathonmarcmendes.com.

Jennifer Ferguson: A distinguished decorative artist, Jennifer’s innovative faux finishes using foils, stencils, and rollers stand out. Her command over colour, texture, and design has her classes booked back-to-back. Dive into her world at artisticpaintingstudio.com.

Kacha: Katarina “Kacha” has transformed her passion for painting into a thriving enterprise. Since 2016, her journey, now alongside her husband Carlos, has evolved from traditional furniture selling to a content creation sensation. Immerse in her story at Kachafurniture.com.

Loree Pringle: At the helm of Homestead House, Loree is celebrated for her exceptional range of milk paints, stains, and finishes. The craftsmanship that goes into every product under her watch is a testament to her dedication to quality. Her company’s commitment to sustainability and producing environmentally-friendly products makes it stand out in the furniture painting community. Discover the world of Homestead House and its wide array of offerings at homesteadhouse.ca

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Monika Charchula: The shining winner of BBC’s 2023 Interior Design Masters, Monika’s artistry in upcycling is simply spellbinding. Under the brand 84 Square, her creations ooze individuality and creativity. Dive into her universe at 84-square.com.

Solly Jo: The visionary mind behind the WoodUbend phenomena, Solly Jo has brought a fresh perspective to furniture design and refinishing. Her ingenious mouldings, made of wood but bendable when heated, have revolutionised the industry, allowing artisans to achieve intricate designs with ease. It’s not just about the product, but also about the endless possibilities it offers to the creative minds in the furniture refinishing world. Dive into the world of WoodUbend and uncover the magic she’s brought to the community.

Tom Manahan: When one thinks of high-quality finishes in the furniture painting world, it’s hard not to think of General Finishes. At the helm of this innovative company is Tom Manahan. Under his guidance, General Finishes has consistently delivered products that both amaze and inspire artisans everywhere. Renowned for their water-based stains, topcoats, and other finishing products, General Finishes, steered by Tom’s expertise, has set a benchmark in the industry.

Personal Interactions:

Monika Charchula: Bursting with energy, Monika’s distinctive style is thrilling to witness. The way she moulds her creativity into her works is truly inspiring.

Kacha: A rising star in the refinishing world, Kacha’s entrepreneurial spirit is commendable. Her story of transformation stands as a testament to her dedication.

Jennifer Ferguson: During her memorable talk, Jennifer asserted her place as the queen of foils. Her passion, combined with a competitive spirit, was evident and left an indelible mark.

Annie Sloan: Brief interactions with the Annie Sloan team at PBA were genuinely inspiring. There’s a sense of potential synergy with the Flip Runway Awards, suggesting exciting developments in the future. Annie’s continued support for events like PBA, coupled with her charismatic presence and dedicated team, further establishes her revered status in the industry.

Jonathon Marc Mendes: Jonathon is not only a man with a kind heart but also a craftsman whose style harmoniously aligns with mine. Witnessing the passion and creativity in his work, I’m filled with anticipation for the possibilities that our future collaborations might bring. I’m genuinely excited to see where his journey takes him next and how our artistic paths might intertwine further down the line.

Brandy from Brushed by Brandy: Meeting Brandy was a heartwarming experience. Her genuineness and willingness to share her craft was obvious. The event benefited tremendously from the tireless efforts of her two sons working side by side with Kate’s husband Tony Holt. Their assistance with setup and logistics was invaluable, ensuring a seamless experience for all sponsors. And, with Brandy on board as a judge for the Flip Runway Awards 2024, the future looks even brighter.

Jennylyn Pringle: Jennylyn, with her infectious energy, is always an inspiration to converse with. Her in-depth knowledge of the industry and commitment to sustainable practices was evident. Our discussions ventured into the collaboration for the Flip Runway Awards, making the prospects for the future even more exciting.

Loree Pringle: Engaging with Loree was truly enlightening. I love the way she speaks fervently about the evolution of Homestead House and its ethos. Her discussions about the value of eco-friendly practices in the industry were both insightful and motivational. Her dedication to the craft and to the environment is evident, making her conversations some of the highlights of the event.

Cait Whitson: Meeting Cait was like meeting an old friend. Her warmth, openness, and genuine love for the craft shone through in every conversation. We shared anecdotes and discussed the intricacies of decorative painting, and I came away feeling truly inspired. Her dedication to her craft is evident in her work, but even more so in her interactions. I’m thrilled at the prospect of collaborating with her in the future and tapping into the depth of knowledge and creativity she brings to the table.

Tom Manahan: Tom exudes a kind of passion that’s both infectious and inspiring. In our conversation, I was struck by his deep understanding of the industry’s needs and his determination to ensure that General Finishes always stay a step ahead. His commitment to product excellence and customer satisfaction is unparalleled. Discussing the latest trends, challenges, and innovations with him was truly enlightening, and I could sense a potential podcast collaboration in the horizon, one that the community will surely anticipate with eagerness.

Solly Jo: Reconnecting with Solly Jo was undoubtedly a highlight. Our past conversations, especially about the awards and potential collaboration, had given me profound respect for her commitment to furniture artistry. The legacy of WoodUbend speaks volumes about her innovation and determination. Our interactions at PBA 2023 deepened our mutual understanding and enthusiasm for the road ahead. Delving into the nuances of our upcoming projects and sharing insights on the ever-changing world of furniture refinishing was truly enriching. I’m eagerly anticipating the milestones we’ll achieve together.

Loma-Ann Marks – Editor-in-Chief, Reclaim: It was a particular pleasure to bump into Loma-Ann Marks from Reclaim Magazine. Her unwavering support for Flip Runway has always been cherished, and we’re thrilled that she will join us once more for the judging of the awards in 2024.

Key Themes and Trends from the Conference: Major Trends Showcased

Several prevalent themes emerged at the Painters Business Academy 2023, giving us a snapshot into the current pulse of the industry. Here’s what caught my eye:

Metallic and Embellishments 

A clear trend was the increased inclination towards metallic finishes and the extensive use of embellishments. From subtle shimmer to bold metallic strokes, it’s evident that the future is bright and gleaming.

Textured Paints

The allure of textures was unmistakable. From the rustic charm of milk paint to the grainy feel of salt wash and the opulence of gold pigment in waxes and foils, the tactile appeal was in the spotlight.

Colour Blending

The art of blending colours is not new, but its continued dominance indicates its deep-rooted appeal. The intricate dance of hues that merge, overlap, and flow into one another creates magic on furniture, and I’m excited to see its evolution, especially at next year’s awards.

New Techniques & Tools Introduced: Innovation is the lifeblood of our industry, and this year was no exception:

Annie Sloan’s Collaborations

Annie unveiled a thrilling collaboration with Redesign by Prima‘ and also announced a new release in partnership with ‘Iron Orchid Designs‘. These collaborations point towards exciting times ahead for furniture artists.

WoodUbend’s Latest Offerings

Solly Jo’s WoodUbend did not disappoint, unveiling new additions that promise to provide artists with even more flexibility and creativity in their projects.

Predictions for the Furniture Painting Horizon:

While the event provided insights into current trends, it also allowed me to speculate on the future trajectories:

Extended Colour Blending

I foresee that the art of paint blending will continue to be refined, leading to even more breathtaking pieces that tell rich stories through their gradients.


Hand-Painted Artwork

Even though it wasn’t prominently displayed at this year’s event, I anticipate a further surge in hand-painted artwork on furniture. Specifically, I expect influences from traditional art forms like Ukrainian and other folk arts to become more prevalent. This will provide an avenue for furniture refinishers to truly showcase their artistic prowess.

The Painters Business Academy 2023 was a treasure trove of insights, and it has left me both inspired and eager for what the future holds for furniture artistry.

Flip Runway Distribution’s Contribution and Reception

Our Showcase at the Event:

At the Painters Business Academy 2023, Flip Runway Distribution took pride in showcasing a broad range of products that resonate with the spirit of furniture artistry. Our offerings included the ever-popular Fusion Mineral Paint and its counterpart, Milk Paint by Fusion. These paints have been recognised worldwide for their impeccable quality and transformative capacities.

Furthermore, we introduced the audience to BrushKeeper ecobrushes—a sustainable choice for the environmentally conscious artist. Our stall also featured the intricate designs of Dala Muses stencils, providing artists with tools to add detailed artistry to their works.

But the stars of our showcase were undoubtedly the Staalmeester and Cling On paint brushes. The Cling On S50, in particular, witnessed an overwhelming demand, especially after Brandy’s demonstration of its blending prowess.

Feedback from the Attendees:

The event’s attendees showed immense interest in our range. The Cling On S50 brushes became an instant hit, selling out completely. The feedback was consistently positive, with many participants purchasing them in bulk and even returning for more.

The Staalmeester Spalter brush, also garnered significant attention and appreciation.

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Personal Reflections:

The Painters Business Academy 2023 turned out to be a vibrant hub of learning, sharing, and celebrating the art of furniture painting. The atmosphere was unexpectedly friendly, a beautiful blend of competition and camaraderie.

As I look towards the future, I am filled with anticipation for the next year’s event. The connections we made, both with new retailers and with the larger community, are invaluable. These bonds will undoubtedly pave the way for exciting collaborations and growth.

Elaine from Vintage Attic Sevenoaks deserves special mention. Her presence by my side, assisting with the stand and offering her expertise, was indispensable. Over the years, what started as a professional association has blossomed into a beautiful friendship. Elaine’s talent in furniture painting and her acclaimed workshops are a testament to her dedication to the craft. I’m truly fortunate to have her as a collaborator and friend.


Networking and Collaboration

Significant Interactions:

One of the standout interactions was with Roy and John from Euro Finishes. Their enthusiastic presence and array of favoured products for furniture painters made our meeting both enjoyable and insightful. Furthermore, John Boa’s talent isn’t limited to the furniture industry; I was pleasantly surprised to learn about his prowess as a porridge maker, complete with accolades to prove it!

Prospective Collaborations:

Connecting with Brandy from “Brushed by Brandy” was a delightful experience. Her passion and skills align wonderfully with our brand’s values, making her a perfect fit as a judge for the upcoming Flip Runway Refinishing Awards. We eagerly anticipate the fresh perspective and expertise she will bring to the panel.

Future Benefits from Networking:

Networking at such events provides an unparalleled opportunity to mingle with those who share a similar passion and vision. The sheer joy of meeting new artists, hearing their stories, and watching them use and appreciate our products is truly rewarding. Additionally, strengthening existing bonds with those we respect and cherish in the industry ensures that Flip Runway Distribution remains deeply rooted in the community. These relationships not only offer avenues for growth but also enrich our journey in the ever-evolving world of furniture artistry.

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Lessons Learned and Takeaways

Industry Insights:

The event served as a poignant reminder of the limited avenues available for furniture artists in the UK, both budding and seasoned. There’s a apparent need for more platforms where artisans can gather, learn, and grow. Supporting such events becomes imperative, not only to foster individual growth but also to collectively elevate the industry.

Influence on Flip Runway Distribution’s Future:

These revelations underscore our resolve to further our initiatives. We are committed to expanding the scope of the Flip Runway Refinishing Awards and our soon-to-launch Paintpreneur® Academy, with a primary focus on empowering trade users to enhance their business marketing prowess. To catalyse the growth and recognition of the industry, sponsoring more events will become a cornerstone of our strategy. And of course, we’re already looking forward to participating in next year’s events with even greater enthusiasm.

Reflecting on the Experience:

As I look back on the event, the overriding emotion is sheer gratitude. Not only did it offer a unique networking platform, but it also provided invaluable lessons about the dynamics of collaborating with competitors. Far from being an uncomfortable scenario, it turned out to be a source of immense inspiration.


Immense gratitude is owed to Sarah, Kate, and their entire PBA team for orchestrating such a comprehensive event. Their effort and vision were explicit, and they deserve every accolade for making this possible. Equally deserving of gratitude are all those who took a moment to converse with myself and Elaine from Vintage Attic Sevenoaks. A special mention must go to our esteemed brand owners – Jennylyn, Loree and Meagan from Fusion/Homestead House, Frank from Cling On, and Lisanne and Thomas from Staalmeester. Your presence and insights enriched the event manifold.

Anticipation for the Future:

The anticipation for PBA 2024 is already building, and we can’t wait to see what it will bring. Further, we are brimming with excitement about unveiling more details about the awards and our collaboration with Brandy. Here’s to more growth, collaborations, and groundbreaking industry insights in the future!

Join Us on the Journey Ahead:

As we take the insights and inspirations from PBA 2023 into our next ventures, we invite you to be a part of this evolving journey with Flip Runway Distribution. Engage with us, share your insights, and let’s together shape the future of furniture artistry. Stay tuned for more exciting updates and opportunities by following us on our social media platforms and website. Let’s make 2024 an even more transformative year for the industry. We can’t do it without you!


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