Wake Up Call

Nicole Gibbons’ Worst Morning Habit Proves She’s Just Like the Rest of Us (Sort of!)

The Clare founder and CEO invites us into her NYC home.

By Sacha Strebe
nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

Up next, the founder and CEO of Clare Paints, Nicole Gibbons’ morning routine.

If you’re in the mood to switch up your space, nothing is more transformative than paint. The flick of a brush in a bold or subdued hue can usher in a new atmosphere and with it, a fresh perspective. And that’s exactly what Nicole Gibbons did, but instead of a wall, she took a roller to her career, making the shift from PR and a talking head for HGTV and Good Morning America to founder and CEO of Clare—a direct-to-consumer business that aims to take the “pain out of paint.”

With her modern approach and fashion-forward take on color, Gibbons has successfully disrupted the consumer paint industry bringing convenience and simplicity to a digitally-driven generation. Her work and expertise as a designer and entrepreneur continue to be highly sought after by top media outlets including The Oprah Winfrey Network, TLC, The Rachael Ray Show, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and Better Homes & Gardens—and it’s easy to see why!

Keep reading to learn more about how Gibbons’ A.M. rituals set her up for success, what a typical day looks like, her simple beauty routine, and so much more.

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Since quarantine my days are a lot more routine-based and monotonous since I work from home and only leave for essential reasons. I live in a one-bedroom apartment in NYC and my living room doubles as my office.

I’m usually at my “desk” (aka dining table) and my day consists of a lot of video and phone calls and if I’m lucky a free hour or two each day to catch up on correspondence and do deep focus work.

Usually though, I wind down from my “work day” around 6 or 7 PM, fix dinner, and then I tend to do more deep focus work at night when I’m distraction free. 

What time is your wake-up call? How much sleep do you usually get?

I usually wake up around 7 AM during the week and at 9 AM on the weekends. My body operates like clockwork. I rarely need an alarm and almost always wake up at those times on the dot. 

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? 

It’s a very bad habit that I’m trying to break but I check my phone notifications! 

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like? What rituals set you up for success?

Making coffee is definitely a ritual I enjoy. I also recently started a stretching routine which feels so good. I use an app called aaptiv for quick, guided stretch routines that help to kick start my day. Another ritual, as strange as it sounds, is that I clean my kitchen every morning. Since I’m home all day I cook a lot so there are always dishes that need to be put away, sometimes a mess from last night’s dinner. It’s become a daily ritual that helps me to start my day with some productivity momentum.

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

What do you eat for breakfast?

I don’t eat breakfast every day but I always make a latte with oat or almond milk. Once or twice a week I’ll make a small breakfast—usually something really simple like a single scrambled egg or cashew yogurt with berries. I like the Forager cashew milk yogurt and have been testing out a Trade Coffee subscription. This espresso blend is my favorite and I like this french roast for drip coffee. I love a good bold, dark roast.

How has your morning routine changed since quarantine and why?

My routine is now a bit longer and more enjoyable. I no longer have a commute to work or a rush to get anywhere on time.

I get to linger a bit longer than I typically would when I was going into the office every morning.  

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish.

My beauty routine is pretty low maintenance. I struggled with cystic acne a couple of years ago and now I have a very simple, streamlined skincare routine that includes three to four products plus minimal makeup. First, I’ll cleanse with The Inkey List salicylic cleanser. If my skin feels clogged I use Paula’s Choice BHA liquid exfoliant but I don’t use it every day. I then use The inkey list niacinamide serum followed by the Versed sunscreen if I’m planning to go outside, or a homemade face oil if I plan to stay indoors.

My makeup is usually a tinted moisturizer or light foundation and then I use a bronzer all over as a blush and eyeshadow. I also use mascara and brow gel. My hair is usually in a low maintenance hairstyle like a low bun or a braided style.  

What are your morning media rituals? 

I skim the news headlines on Apple news and Yahoo finance and my twitter feed. And I usually look at any IG notifications in the morning. 

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

What are your favorite books?  

I listen to books on audible and am currently listening to (and loving) Professional Troublemaker:  The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi.

What do you always have on your nightstand to ensure a smooth, successful morning?

There’s nothing really on my nightstand that I use in the AM… except maybe my phone!

nicole gibbons clare paint apartmentWhat’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

Usually something upbeat and hip hop like Meghan Thee Stallion! 

Do you work out in the morning?

I’ve not managed to make working out a priority during the pandemic but now that I’m gearing up to get back into the real world I’m changing that. I just started taking baby steps towards building a new workout routine and so far have been easing into it with 20-30 minute restorative yoga flows using aaptiv, plus quick cardio workouts using a mini stair stepper.

nicole gibbons clare paint apartmentWhat’s your daily uniform? 

My daily routine regardless of quarantine is always something comfortable but since quarantine I’ve taken that comfort to the next level.

I basically live in leggings and sweats now, but I try to keep my tops colorful since I am constantly on video calls—I love a good pop of color! 

If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?

nicole gibbons clare paint apartment

I’d exercise more!  

What are one or two things you do every day to live a more present, mindful, joyful life?

The second I feel stress or anxiety creeping in I do deep breathing exercises to re-center myself.

I also use a meditation app called Simple Habit. I don’t use it every day but I love it. Simple Habit markets itself as “meditation for busy people” and their focus is quick, guided audio meditation routines. Meditation definitely helps me to be more mindful.

If you could pin your success down to one thing or one moment, what would that be?

Timing, a lot of hard work and preparation, good relationships, and a little bit of luck.

nicole gibbons clare paint apartmentSentence Finishers:

I never leave the house without… my watch. 

If there were more hours in the day, I would… get more sleep.

Healthiest morning habit: a good stretch and a glass of lemon water.

Worst morning habit: multiple cups of coffee!

One thing I want to be known for is… creating the best place to buy paint! 

The one thing I fear the most is… letting others down. 

When I feel that fear, I… work hard to not make that happen!

The book I always recommend is… The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. A great read for anyone launching a startup. 

The three traits you need to succeed in life are… grit, luck and critical thinking skills to help you problem solve anything. 

Bath or shower? And what’s your favorite shower/bath product? Shower. I’m very basic. I use Trader Joes or Whole Foods 365 body wash. Citrus scents are my jam.