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Colorado CollegeBulletin | March 2006

Brushed with Social Conscience, Artist Evolves into Business-woman

Ginnie Young ’86 graduated from CC with a degree in fine arts and a social conscience. Twenty years later, she’s selling paint.

But it’s not just any paint – it’s environmentally responsible paint.

Since 1996, Young, with partner Janie Lowe, has owned a custom paint and plaster finishes business in Portland, Ore. Their work ranged from mural and finish applications in homes to complete restaurant interiors to color consulting for architects, designers, and homeowners; they earned accolades from national magazines.

Increasingly conscious of the health and environmental effects of even water-based paints, they searched for alternatives. “We began making our own paint,” says Young. Drawn by the warm, harmonious colors found in the natural world, they collected clay from the road cuts of the Painted Hills in central Oregon to create “an environmentally responsible paint with a natural palate,” Young says. “Nobody was addressing color; it was a gap in the environmental world.”

The result is the YOLO Colorhouse line of paint; YOLO combines the first two letters of the co-owners’ last names. “Colorhouse was created by scientists and artists with nature in mind,” Young says. The paint has no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), the evaporating solvents that contribute to ozone depletion, and comes in seven “nature” color groups: Air, Grain, Leaf, Water, Clay, Stone, and Petal.

The company recently launched Little YOLO, a collection of six pre-mixed VOC-free paints for nurseries and toddlers’ rooms. The “Sprout” collection targets environmentally aware parents concerned about the health of their children, and features six gender-neutral colors.

“For me to be selling paint today is kind of crazy; it’s not what I planned,” Young says. Since launching the product in February 2005, she finds herself balancing not on scaffolding but balancing ledger sheets. “It’s been a huge switch, from applying the paint as an artist to running a business.”