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What Clare Paint Founder Nicole Gibbons Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy Clare

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Clare paint founder Nicole Gibbons about the candle, tinted moisturizer, and espresso machine she can’t live without.

I like to have a good complexion and nice, clear skin during all the Zoom calls that are endlessly scheduled throughout my day. I have some hyperpigmentation, so I always use some sort of tinted moisturizer to even out my skin tone. This is a lightweight moisturizer that I can layer on. Even if I’m not going anywhere, it makes me feel more confident and gives me that healthy glow. It’s my go-to.

Before COVID, I would go to multiple coffee shops a day — usually one in my neighborhood on my way out the door and then one in the middle of the day near my office. Between the tip and the actual lattes I’d buy, it was a $15-a-day habit. Now that I have this really wonderful espresso machine, I can make delicious lattes at home for a fraction of the price. It’s been really fun learning the art and science of coffee and how to dial in a good shot of espresso. It feels so fancy, like I have my own coffee shop at home. I’ve been enjoying the coffee from BLK & Bold, a Black-owned roaster in Iowa.

I love warm, sensual scents. This candle has a smoky fig scent that’s intoxicating and sexy and woodsy and cozy. I used to work in fashion, and one of my former colleagues started this company. She gifted me my first candle, and I just loved the scent so much that I continued to buy it. As a designer and a home-décor person, I get gifted a lot of candles, so I rarely buy them. But this is one that I buy over and over again because I really love it.

I basically live in sweatshirts and cozy stuff these days, given that I’m home all the time. This company was started by Meena Harris, Kamala Harris’s niece. It sells T-shirts and sweatshirts with fun little sayings that are all about empowering women and celebrating marginalized people. This one embraces the idea of women being ambitious and going after their dreams. That sums up what I’ve done in my life and my career, which is why I love it. I also love the vibrant pink color.

This game comes from a fellow Black-owned business. I love using it as a tool to get to know my team. We can all learn to practice a little bit more empathy. If you look at the differences people have in politics and the polarizing environment we’re living in now, I think that if we all took a moment to take a step back and understand one another as human beings, it would be a much happier society. Now that everyone’s doing virtual team bonding, the game is a great way to build emotional connections with people and understand one another. The cards are also beautifully designed.

Even before COVID, I cooked nonstop. But now that I’m home, I’m doing it more than ever. I cook pretty much everything — eggs, vegetables, pasta sauces, fish dishes, pancakes, even leftover pizza — in one of my Lodge cast-iron skillets. I have three different sizes. There’s so much cookware out there that’s fancy and colorful, but I just love the utilitarian nature of cast iron. It heats food evenly. The Lodge brand has been around for so many years. It’s very well made and inexpensive relative to a lot of other cookware.

Having a high-quality set of knives makes cooking more enjoyable. I had very basic knives until last year, when I got these Material Kitchen knives during a Black Friday sale. They’re just so much better — so well made and such an upgrade from my old janky knives.

“Penthouse,” a beautiful pale shade of greige, is our best-selling neutral at Clare. I chose it for my entryway and living room, which is where I spend pretty much all of my time now that I’m working from home. I work there, I hang out there, and even though I technically have a bedroom, I sleep on the couch quite often. My windows face north, so I don’t get the best light and I’m surrounded by other buildings. I wanted a soft, subtle color that would make my space feel light and airy, and it achieves that. I just love living with it every day.

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What Clare Paint Founder Nicole Gibbons Can’t Live Without