Bringing a New Glaze to Market
Design 7 Seven by Artist Sandra Gonzalez Combines Affordability
With Superior Open Time
by Diane Capuano Franklin
By positioning herself at the intersection of art and business, Sandra Gonzalez has built a successful and multi-faceted decorative arts career. As the owner of A Work of Art in Fort Worth, Texas, Sandra has been providing murals and decorative finishes to a wide array of commercial and residential clients for the past 15 years. As an expansion of her business endeavors, she has moved into the more complex field of product development. Within the last 18 months, she brought her first product on the market: a high-performance glaze that is versatile enough to meet the needs of decorative artisans and professional painters alike.
The glaze is called Design 7 Seven, a name that incorporates the use of Sandra’s favorite number not once but twice. And what makes this glaze so special? Certainly one of its defining properties is its extended open time, which enables artists to provide a seamless application on expansive walls without having to move at breakneck speed. Another major selling point is its price, which Sandra positioned in a way that allows decorative artisans to keep more money in their own pockets.
Design 7 Seven is an online business strictly devoted to one SKU—a 1-gallon can of acrylic glaze. “Some clients ask why we don’t sell our glaze in quarts, but getting those quarts is actually more expensive than doing gallons,” Sandra says. “It’s a cost of doing business type thing. My whole thought process was trying to share that savings with the professional faux finisher.”
A Fateful Reconnection
The seeds for the introduction of Design 7 Seven were sown during the eight years that Sandra spent working as an art teacher in a private school. One of her top students was the granddaughter of the man who invented one of the nation’s top joint compounds known as Murco Wall Mud. Years later, Sandra and her former student reconnected. By then, Sandra was well into her career as muralist and decorative artist while her former student was an executive in the family business. Over the years, the company Murco Wall Products (also based in Fort Worth) had grown to become a diverse manufacturing company whose products included not only joint compounds but paints, primers, tools and supplies.
Murco also did private manufacturing, which dovetailed nicely into Sandra’s desire to bring new products to the faux-finishing marketplace. Her initial focus, with Murco’s help, was to create a glaze with superior open time. Sandra recruited her son, Caleb, to help her with the development of the glaze. Caleb had an educational background in music business that Sandra felt could be helpful in this endeavor. “I knew he had the mind for it,” Sandra says, “so I asked if he would consider helping me with this.”
Extensive Product Development
The next two years were devoted to product testing and refinements. Sandra gives Caleb credit for his relentless focus on heightening the quality of the product. “He would challenge me to push it beyond our comfort level and beyond what we knew the product could do previously.”
But even then the product was not finalized. Sandra decided she needed professional artists to give their assessment of the product, so she turned to several acquaintances from the Lone Star Artisan chapter of IDAL, including Darlene Hartley, owner of the Painted Wall, and Tim and Camet Runkle, who own Beautiful Brushworks. “I knew them,” says Sandra. “I knew I could trust them. I told them, ‘Please push this as far as you can and tell me what you think.’ ”
The artists came back with positive feedback, in one case, noting, “I actually went to lunch and came back and was able to pick up from where I left off.” Sandra and her artisan friends also tried the glaze in the extreme Texas heat, and it worked out very well.
A Positive Reception
Sandra officially launched Design 7 Seven at the IDAL Show in Fort Worth in Fall 2014. The feedback she has received in the ensuing year and a half has been extremely positive. “We’ve had people calling us from all over—New York, Florida, California—and they’re loving it,” Sandra says.
Success with the product isn’t happening overnight, but Sandra is pleased how the product is catching on. “We’re a start-up, and start-ups can take quite a bit of time to get the word out, but we’re starting to get people calling us and saying, ‘This distributor told us about you.’ We’re very thankful that other companies are starting to see the value in us and sending clients our way.”
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