Beaming with Pride

Painting a bright future

A cross-section view of the various rich colours available.

Beam Paint and Colour products are eco-friendly and safe. They come wrapped in waxed canvas or in recyclable aluminum tubs and caps free of any heavy metals. Tree sap and Manitoulin honey are some of the local ingredients used to create the paints.
Photo credit: J. Casson photography

In four short years since Anong Beam opened her business on Manitoulin Island in 2020, it has grown exponentially. The Indigenous businesswoman is manufacturing artist-quality watercolour paints that are available in more than 170 stores around the world.

Beam Paint and Colour paints are unlike any others. Created using only mineral and plant-based ingredients and packaged for distribution in plastic-free products, they have been certified by the Art and Creative Minerals Institute as non toxic.

“Our paints exceed Health Canada’s guidelines for safety threshold by three times,” stated Anong Beam, CEO, Beam Paint and Colour. “They are safe for children so they are being used in daycare centres.”

The daughter of the Canadian Indigenous artist Carl Beam, Anong followed in her father’s artistic footsteps. Concerned that many paint products contained heavy metals and came with excessive packaging, which didn’t align with her eco-friendly aesthetic, she set out to do something about it.

“When I introduced my first product, there was a huge positive response to it on Instagram, Anong recalled. “I used feedback on social media to help me finetune my products and packaging to deliver what people wanted.”

Anong is passionate about the quality of her products so she has maintained control over every aspect of her business, choosing not to use concentrate or to outsource the processing of orders and shipping products to her customers.

“We may not be as fast as the large online retailers, but our customers are getting a product developed, manufactured, and packaged with our look and feel,” Anong explains. “It’s 100 percent all us and our customers like it. We have doubled our business every year for the first four years.”

With rapid growth came a few challenges. That’s when FedNor stepped in to help with a Jobs and Growth contribution in 2022 enabling Beam Paint and Colour to respond to increasing demand. With the investment, the M’Chigeeng First Nation company expanded, adding a manufacturing deck with proper ventilation for handling pigments, purchased equipment to enhance productivity, and installed a geothermal heating system to reduce its operating costs and environmental footprint.

Beam Paint and Colour’s expanded facility

A room with boxes and shelves

The expansion supported through FedNor is helping the Manitoulin Island company meet increasing demand.

As Anong’s business has grown, so has her team. As of January 2024, she employs 12 people full-time and another 7 through contract work. She says it is very gratifying to provide a living wage and see the positive impact it has in her employees’ lives.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Anong is now looking to introduce non-toxic textile ink offering an alternative to the plastic-based ink currently in use, as well as eco-friendly household paints.

FedNor invested $26.6 million through the Jobs and Growth Fund to help businesses like Beam Paints and Colour adapt, grow and move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Learn more about FedNor’s programs and the types of initiatives it funds in support of the federal Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario.