Jean Hauser was in a 20-year courtship with the home decor industry before taking the plunge as the full-time owner of the family paint business, an opportunity that married her love of color with her passion for design.
Hauser, who holds a degree in fashion merchandising and a certificate in interior design, inherited ownership of The Color House, the business started by her father-in-law over 50 years ago and where she worked alongside her late husband for two decades.
“Back when I began at The Color House, there was no design team, no color consultants,” Hauser recalls. “My background in design allowed us to build a whole new side of the business, pushing us to evolve beyond paint and wall coverings and offer customers much more in terms of planning spaces that reflected their personality and lifestyle.”
A certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE), The Color House is Rhode Island’s leading paint and design retailer offering full-service design, color consultation and expert color matching in addition to Benjamin Moore paint, tools and accessories, wall coverings, window treatments, fabrics and custom upholstery.
“Every project our customers bring in is important to us,” Hauser says. “We know they want to get it right the first time, so it means a lot that they trust us to provide them with the proper products and advice.”
Wanting to further expand the business after taking full ownership in 2016, Hauser and her team of 20 employees, including an operations manager and three certified interior designers, set out to renovate the existing stores in Cranston, North Kingstown and Wakefield. Hauser then opened a fourth location in Middletown, just outside Newport, and finally her fifth and newest location in Smithfield in March 2020.
“We are so proud of our beautiful in-store showrooms, which are purposefully designed and very inviting so that people want to spend time here,” she says, drawing attention to the enhanced lighting, attractive wood flooring and expanded Benjamin Moore Color Center that gives customers an unparalleled experience.
“Three of our showrooms have designated spaces for our design team to work and to meet with clients. While that may sound like a lot of real estate to give up in a retail location, it shows how much The Color House is fully invested in being design-oriented experts.”
Another distinction of The Color House is that unlike big box stores and large retailers that focus mainly on contractors, Hauser’s team concentrates on a different demographic.
“While we love our contractors, it’s not really who we’ve built our showrooms or our website for – it’s for the home owner who wants to put a personal stamp on their own space, whether they do it themselves or hire a design professional to help them create a palette that will pull together a room or their entire home,” she says, giving full credit to her team for The Color House’s excellent customer service.
“Our people really know what they’re talking about. We take the time to get to know our customers and understand their needs so that we can help them calculate how much paint they need, the right finish to use or how to properly prep their walls. Even if they come to us for color advice because they’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, customers know we will always guide them toward the best choices.”
Although her full-time commitment to running The Color House requires Hauser to leave consulting in the capable hands of her design team, she continues to find creative outlets in other parts of the business.
“I think about design in every aspect of what we do – from what our showrooms look like to the quality of product we carry and how it gets merchandised. I try to look at things from a woman’s point of view as well as from a designer’s point of view. If I was a customer, what would I like out of The Color House experience? From there, we always strive to deliver something bigger and better.”