I was intrigued. I had never heard of color analysis and e-mailed Kerry to learn more. She agreed to meet with me at her space in Pittsford. I had a hard time getting dressed because I didn't want to wear the "wrong" color and I was behind on laundry so I had three shirts to pick from. When I mentioned it Kerry said, "People always say that but I don't think like that at all! I'm not the color police," she laughed.
|Kerry with her own color palette - warm autumn.|
In actuality, it's not as simple as looking at someone and "knowing" their color. Kerry is a certified SciArt Color Analyst and spends an hour and a half working with each client in order to determine which color palettes best compliment their complexion. She works in a neutral grey room and during the session she and her clients don neutral grey robes. If your hair is colored you even get to wear a neutral grey cafeteria lady cap. She uses color cards and drapes to determine which color palette best complements your complexion. She then customizes the analysis to your own personal style and tastes, giving you advice on how to wear your colors, what types of cosmetics to use, and even what color to dye your hair.
|Kerry next to the color drapes used to determine a client's color palette.|
I have to admit I was a bit of a skeptic until I looked at the before and after pictures on her website. Even my husband, who doesn't have much of a sense of these things and genuinely thinks I look great in frump, was amazed.
Color may not be something you give a lot of thought to but your eye can perceive over 2,000 different variances in color and while humans have been around for a while, color was not well understood until the turn of the 19th century. A college art professor by the name of Albert Munsell thought that color names were "foolish" and wanted a more scientific way to teach color to his students. He was the first to rigorously and systematically test human visual perception of changes in color based on the three traits of value, hue and chroma. He then created a mathematical color mapping model that is the foundation of modern color mapping systems used today. (Wikipedia retrieved 6/10/2012). His legacy continues, of all places, at RIT's Munsell Color Lab.
The color system that Kerry uses is based on Munsell's work and the work of Impressionist painters. They observed that certain color palettes are seasonally found in nature. In spring colors are bold and bright, in autumn they are warm and muted. "Every person can wear every color, just in different versions," she explained. What makes one person look great can make another person look washed out. "It's all about balance and harmony." If you're wearing colors that complement your complexion, you look fantastic. If you're wearing colors that don't, then your clothes will draw attention to themselves.
|Kerry uses this model of seasonal tones to help people look their best. Many color analysts use a model of four seasons but Kerry refines that and breaks it into twelve.|
You might envision an attached shopping mall encouraging women to spend money and acquire more stuff, but Kerry's aim is actually the opposite. It's about using what you have and having less. My friend Husna said it saved her quite a bit of money by taking one more variable out of clothes shopping. Now when she's buys something, she's confident she'll wear it. A few months out from her consultation she continues to believe it was an excellent investment.
Kerry feels a connection to what is simple and natural and sees her work as a way to help people look and feel better in a natural healthy way. "I don't make my clients over. I help them understand who they are. I would never dress you like me for example, it's not your style." I had been thinking about that too and feeling maybe a touch self conscious in my mommy wear (jeans and a t-shirt that may not have been clean) sitting across from Kerry who was dressed to give a toast at a wedding. She'll go over your style and what you feel comfortable wearing. Her goal is not fashion, but having confidence and being comfortable with yourself.
|Indigo Tones is full of color. As you're analyzing your style, you can try different accessories to see if they fit your tastes.|
|Kerry also carries a full line of all natural cosmetics. Learning which cosmetics look best on you is also part of the consultation.|
How does a person launch a business seeking to help people through color? Kerry spent 15 years in human resources and thoroughly enjoyed it but when her children were born she "locked up" at the thought of going back to a corporate environment. She also had her colors analyzed around that time. "You know the quote, 'when you're on the right path, the universe conspires to help you,'? Everything fell into place." She went on to say that no one else in Rochester was doing color analysis and she liked helping people. The combination of art, science, business and people was a perfect match. She got her space in Pittsford and launched her business. "I feel good about my space. I feel really lucky to be here."
Of course there have been roadblocks. Initially no one knew what color analysis was, so the first obstacle was selling the idea. There have also been collaborations that haven't worked out, which have been difficult but have led her in new directions.
But the most challenging setback revolved around swatchbooks. If you have a color analysis done, you'll walk away with a book of colors that make you look stunning. It's an integral part of the process. When Kerry's mentor who supplied her with swatchbooks tragically died, she was left with a tremendous amount of grief and a major business problem.
The traditional books were paint on canvas but the process of color matching and printing on a small scale is prohbitively expensive. "I looked everywhere to find someone who sold them and there was no one." After a lot of frustration and soul searching, Kerry realized she was on her own.
"The endeavor of swatch books was where I took the risks. Starting a small business wasn't hard, opening the store wasn't hard. The swatch books were hard. This felt like risk taking. Am I good enough? Do I know enough? Can I do that?"
Fortunately, the answer was yes. She had an epiphany that fibers (thread) hold color better than paint and last longer. This was the birth of the proprietary Indigo Tones swatch book - color pallettes composed of embroidered thread on cloth produced exclusively right here in Rochester. Every client that passes through her doors goes home with one and even though she doesn't market them specifically, she ships them all over the world. She has also had clients fly in from as far away as Atlanta.
|The proprietary Indigo Tones swatch books.|
"There are some days I think, 'I can't believe I'm doing this! I'm doing something I love, I'm good at, and that's unique!"
If you don't think color analysis is right for you, you may want to consider referring your friends. If you're lucky maybe you'll get some free clothes out of it.
Fill out my online form.