Grant Recipient

June 21, 2023

May 2023 Amber Grant Awarded to Paintillio


Woman Entrepreneur:
Jess Devenport and Lyssa Kayra

Congratulations go to Jess Devenport and Lyssa Kayra of Paintillio, our Amber Grant Winner for the month of May.

In addition to receiving this month’s $10,000 grant, Paintillio is now eligible for the year-end $25,000 Amber Grant.

Here is part of the Paintillio story Jess and Lyssa shared with us:

Paintillio started with a joke and a wedding. Professional artist Lyssa Kayra was always introduced by her partner as a “paint-by-numbers” artist. However, she grew tired of this gag [and, to show him the complexity of the craft] designed and hand drew a paint-by-numbers canvas for him to fill out. Inspired by the project, she created another, larger paint-by-numbers canvas and brought it as a gift to a friend’s wedding. 

It was a massive success. Out of this, Paintillio was born.

Today, Paintillio is a creative business that makes paint-by-number canvases and collaborative murals using a proprietary software program to creative customized products for all types of interactive events. Paintillio is the only company able to offer paint-by-numbers on a large scale, in addition to being one of the few women-own companies in the field. Its products enable murals to be worked on by many people at once, to foster that shared sense of togetherness and fellowship through a creative project.

Video Transcript

WomensNet: Hi everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our Amber Grant winner for May, 2023. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Jess Devenport, one of the two co-founders of Paintillio. Lyssa Kayra is the other co-owner, and the business is based in British Columbia, Canada.

I’m Marcia Layton Turner. I am one of several WomensNet Net Advisory Board members. So Jess, thank you so much for your time today to chat with us.

Jess: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here on behalf of Paintillio.

WomensNet: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell our viewers here a little bit about Paintillio.

Jess: Paintillio actually was inspired by a joke. A very bad joke. So my business partner Lyssa, her ex-fiance, he used to introduce her to his friends because she’s a professional artist. He would say, ‘this is my girlfriend or my fiance. She’s a really talented artist. You can barely see the numbers.’ And every time it was eye roll, she was like, ‘I don’t paint by numbers, I’m just really talented.’

So in response, she actually drew a paint by numbers of him and made him paint it, and it turned out really, really amazing. And I saw it, and I was like, what is this? Can you do one of these for my friend’s wedding? So she had done another one for a friend’s wedding. I wanted one for my friend’s wedding, and just every single one of them turned out really, really amazing.

And so obviously, that took a lot of time for her to draw those out and the numbers and lines and figure out the paint colors. And so because her friends were starting to ask for these, she approached my husband Scott, who’s a software developer, and she asked him if he could develop an app or software or something so that she didn’t have to draw these anymore. But she still wanted to gift them to people.

So outside of his full-time job, he basically worked on it for I think over a year or so. And one day he got it and it worked really well. We brought one to my friend’s wedding and there was a woman there who runs a giant festival in Vancouver called Dragon Boat BC that hundreds of thousands of people come to every year. And she said, ‘okay, I need one of these, but I need it to be giant and I need this in three weeks.’ And we were like, okay. And we pulled it off. And ever since then we’ve been on fire. They showcased us on the news at that event and obviously we’ve come a long way since then, but that’s how Paintillio got started.

WomensNet: Tell me about the name.

Jess: Scott, my husband, he’s a bit of a wordsmith. He made it up randomly. He thought it was fun and cute. And that’s kind of our branding. We’re going with fun and cute… it’s just a random name.

People say it wrong all the time…but it’s Paint-illio.

WomensNet: What do you think has been the secret to your success? And how long ago did you start the business officially?

Jess: Actually it’s our sixth birthday today. So six years ago today we started Paintillio, and I think the secret to our success is that we’re extremely passionate about art and creating and collaborating and bringing people together and making it accessible.

So I think the main secret to Paintillio is that our murals break down barriers between age, race, genders, and abilities so that anyone can be an artist. And when we have these larger corporations, for example, or larger businesses and organizations that are purchasing these for the public to paint, it’s just even more accessible because then it’s free for everyone that paints. So I think the success for us comes from the murals that we do, that anyone can be an artist and it’s accessible to everyone.

WomensNet: So you’ve been in it six years officially. Where are you headed? What are some future plans for the business?

Jess: We’re still developing our product. For example, during COVID, we didn’t know how we were gonna continue to do murals. So we came up with our mosaic murals where we slice and diced our larger murals into one square foot by one square foot pieces. And those fit in the boxes with the paint and the brushes.

So it came all in one box and we shipped them. So for example, Comcast ordered 300 of them for a big mural and we ship 300 of them out to individual people. And then they all ship them back to one location to create one giant mural. And then they donated it to the Boys and Girls Club of America, which is amazing. That’s something we’re kind of focusing on is our mosaic murals. We also have been testing black light murals, so think glow in the dark, but with black light paint.

We did one with Ted Talks recently, which is really cool. So I think that’s gonna be our next product that comes out. It’s not out yet, but that’s gonna be a product. And then we’re really ramping up our outdoor murals. We have just finally solidified a new outdoor mural material that works really, really well. It’s weatherproof, it’s light for shipping – that sort of thing. So, those are three different products that we’re really focusing on right now, aside from our very popular indoor murals and mini murals.

WomensNet: That’s so smart. How you sliced and diced the process – just so creative.

Jess: Thank you. Yeah, we’ve done really well with those, so that’s really fun. Coca-Cola just ordered one last week.

WomensNet: So now that you’ve won a $10,000 Amber Grant, what are some ways that you’re planning on using that to grow the business?

Jess: Yes. So right now – we are so grateful by the way, for this. It’s really, really important for our company to receive this grant because it’s gonna help fund our software development. So right now, our software is only capable of rendering a certain amount of murals a day – one to two.

And so our capacity, our turnaround time, is a bit longer than we’d like. Our capacity for shipping out multiple murals a day is a little less than we’d like. What we’re gonna be doing is redeveloping our software so that we can generate hundreds of murals a day if we need it to. Because we are on this pretty large growth trajectory right now, we’re in the growth stage of our business. So this grant will go towards redesigning and improving our software.

WomensNet: Fantastic. Yeah. That should really open up capacity for these larger projects.

Jess: Yeah. And our turnaround time can be quicker. Like if someone asks for one in a week, we can say yes rather than three to four weeks.

WomensNet: What is some advice that you might give an aspiring female entrepreneur, someone who is where you were six years ago?

Jess: I would say that you can do it. I mean, we have an extremely random niche product that we have turned into this fairly successful global product.

It’s paint by numbers. We’ve reinvented something from the fifties. And put a little spin on it. And we’ve done that with a lot of hard work. A lot of dedication, a lot of time, and a lot of research.

So I feel like anyone can do anything if they really put their mind to it. I know that’s a little bit cliche, but to be honest, we really wanted to have a job that we loved, that we were passionate about. Where we could still do art, where we could still be surrounded by people and bring people all together and still make money. And we did it with this extremely niche product.

So I do think that if you put your mind to it and if you work hard and do your research, and yeah, that’s my advice is put your head down, work hard, and set goals for what you want in the future, and you’ll reach them.

WomensNet: And I think what was super smart about your approach is that you were sort of micro-testing the market very early on. You know, before you said, ‘oh, we’re gonna create this company to, rejuvenate paint by number…’ you had test cases, and you got reactions to it.

I just think that that was really wise. Not just come up with an idea and say, ‘I’m gonna do that.’ You had an idea, gave it away as gifts, looked at the reaction and then moved ahead.

Jess: That was definitely part of our success.

And we do test all of our products ahead of time now. So if we introduce a new product, we’ll have our friends test it or our family test it and give us feedback. We’re always looking for more feedback.

That’s more advice that I would give: send out surveys, and get feedback from your clients. It’s not always gonna be good, but the constructive criticism is what pushes your product or business forward.

WomensNet: Super smart. Thank you so much Jess, for taking the time to chat, to talk about your company, your journey. Just so exciting to hear and can’t wait to hear what you do in the future now that you have a bit more money to put into the software.

And congratulations again on being our May Amber Grant winner.

Jess: Thank you to you, Marcia, and the WomensNet team. We’re very appreciative.

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