By Rachel Austen, Founder

It’s been over five years since I designed my very first paint-by-number kit and launched Elle Crée on Etsy from my home studio. I’m so pleased with how far we’ve come and how many people have enjoyed the calming, creative pastime our kits provide. 

These past couple of years have been a whirlwind.

Due to pandemic lockdowns, more people discovered our kits – and rediscovered paint-by-number in general – than I could have ever imagined. So many of you were looking for exactly what this hobby provides – a creative outlet that helps reduce anxiety! 

"I am in day 15 of being on lock down in Manhattan. I’ve been inside my tiny studio apartment and today I felt like I was going to lose it. I’ve been able to shut everything out today and relax and just dive into this. Totally meant the world to get today."

— Elle Crée Customer

Some of you wrote to me from isolation in studio apartments in NYC – others after zoom painting parties with loved ones in quarantine – to say how much experiencing your paint-by-number project meant to you and how it helped you to decompress. 

"These paintings have brought peace, meditation, and mindfulness into my life and I’m so excited to have found this medium."

— Elle Crée Customer

While the last couple of years have certainly been challenging, here are a few good things that have come out of them here at Elle Crée: 

  • We’ve introduced new products including banner kits, kids’ kits, and party-in-a-box kits to broaden the paint-by-number experience! 
  • We started a new paint pot recycling program to keep plastics out of the landfill.
  • We made a mission-driven change to American-made canvas. 
  • We’ve been able to contribute over $20,000 through our net 5% donations to social-and-eco-causes, including Portland’s Brown Hope, a local non-profit that works toward racial justice and resilience. 

While we’ve made some exciting changes in the past two years, our core mission has stayed the same – to provide high quality kits in a responsible way that foster self-care through creativity while creating good in our community. 

As we gear up to move our workshop in June, I’m excited about the new products and community initiatives we’ll have the capacity to explore. We’ve got a team of 6 on board with creative inspiration just oozing out of us, so stay tuned! Thank you for being a part of our journey. And… happy painting to our budding artists everywhere!

The most surprising thing I’ve found from all my paint-by-number painting isn’t just how relaxed I feel but how much it’s helped jumpstart my creativity. Whether it’s fighting through writer's block for a new blog post or figuring out ideas for my next drawing, nothing helps boost my brain like an hour with a paint-by-number.

Elle Crée staff left to right: Julianne Austen (Operations Manager), Sofia Laos (Product Assembly Associate), Rachel Austen (Founder), Niesha Castro (Retail Order Fulfillment), Lia Horther (Community Education & Outreach), and Mandi Andersen (Color Specialist & Social Media)