Tony Piloseno

Tony Piloseno mixing paint in the basement of his friends' off-campus house. Photo by Ben Peters

Athens TikToker Tony Piloseno, who’s famous for his paint-mixing videos, revealed Tuesday that he accepted a job at a small Orlando, Florida-based paint company days after going public about his termination from Sherwin-Williams in a viral video, despite offers from paint giants across the country.

Piloseno, an Ohio University senior studying marketing in The College of Business who goes by tonesterpaints on his TikTok profile that’s amassed more than 1.4 million followers, said he took a position with Florida Paints working sales and operations at a few of their locations, similar to the work he did at Sherwin-Williams in Athens.

The company also agreed to invest in his personal influencer brand and create his own products or paint line, he said in an interview.

Florida Paints owner Don Strube reached out to him on LinkedIn last week, which led to a phone call where he offered to fly Piloseno out to Florida to tour the business. Piloseno took him up on the offer and spent this past weekend in the sunshine state learning about the company.

“We talked about (how we) both have a passion for paint, man. I just felt like I really connected with him,” he said.

Piloseno lost his job this past summer at the East State Street Sherwin-Williams store after the company received customer complaints related to his videos and discovered he created content while on the clock using company machinery.

He received an outpouring of public support following what many believed to be a mistake on the part of Sherwin-Williams for firing him, since he offered to expand the company's marketing efforts virtually for free with the help of his substantial online clout.

While several other major paint companies across the country, including New Jersey-based Benjamin Moore & Co. and Pittsburg-based PPG, reached out to him with offers for jobs and investment in his TikTok brand, Piloseno was drawn to Florida Paints because of its small size and family-oriented ethos.

"We're looking for energy and ways to have our industry and our product appeal more from an emotional standpoint because his videos are just mesmerizing ... he's an artist who's using a liquid canvas," Strube said of Piloseno in an interview.

Piloseno felt burned after his being terminated from Sherwin-Williams for doing what he loves and said he could reach his full potential in the paint industry more easily by working with a small business.

“It’s just that big corporation mindset and culture I was almost trying to steer away from,” Piloseno said of the alternative opportunities offered to him.

He’s planning to move to Florida in the coming weeks and finish his degree online.

“I’m feeling very good. I feel like, I feel blessed that I’ve been given another opportunity to show what I initially wanted to do in the first place,” he said. 

Piloseno began creating paint-mixing videos about a year ago while working at the East State Street Sherwin-Williams location, where one of his job duties was to mix paint colors for customers to help find the exact shade they were in search of. He grew inspired by other companies that he saw mixing paint in their own TikTok videos, and he began employing techniques that he learned on the job into his own creations.

Piloseno’s success revealed what he saw as an opportunity to help Sherwin-Williams, the Cleveland-based paint giant, market its products to the younger audiences found on TikTok. With the guidance of some OU business professors he created a presentation that he shared with a store manager and sales representative who were both supportive and helped him contact the company’s corporate marketing department.

After months of silence, corporate responded to his inquires saying they weren’t interested in expanding marketing efforts amid the pandemic. He was fired shortly after.

Since losing his job, Piloseno began filming TikToks in the basement of his friends’ off-campus house.

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