A trend from the 1980s is back in a big way and gaining traction with a younger audience. There are corners of TikTok where you can’t avoid people’s videos “filling them in”. This usually involves a professional color consultant until they discover their “season” – a group of colors in which they look their best: winter in deep, saturated jewel tones, autumn. In warm, earthy colors and so on.

Guessing someone’s color weather has become a popular Internet parlor game. It is also a growing business: for those who want to enhance their professional image and entrepreneurs ready to help them in this task.

One of them is Ashley Dork, who comes alive as a rainbow. “I’m a spring,” she noted, “so the light, bright, warm colors of the world are perfect for me.”

On her Instagram feed, tens of thousands of followers weigh in on Dork’s outfits — in vivid coral, lemon chiffon, Kelly green, often snapped with thrift stores.

But his style was not always so confident. As an exhausted mother of four young children, she said her wardrobe was mostly dark, basic — and kind of sad. So six years ago, she went to get her color done, something she had seen her mother do in the 1980s.

“I almost felt like it was a superficial, selfish thing to do,” Durk said. “And then quickly, I realized it’s complete garbage — it’s not superficial at all.” It made a huge impact on me.”

He is now a self-employed color consultant in the Omaha suburb of Papillon, Nebraska, named after the French word for butterfly.

“We see people from all over, who come to us with a desire to feel better about themselves and show who they are on the outside, show who they are on the inside,” They said.

In late May, Lauren Kreisberg, 26, brought her mother, Debbie O’Keefe, to Dork for a color analysis.

Durak sat them down in front of the mirror and started cuddling.

“When I put this cool, rosy, icy pink on you, it looks like I’ve finished your color here,” Durk told O’Keefe.

The pair set out to find out whether they are warm or cool toned, muted, or bright, and finally which of the four color seasons and each of the 16 sub-seasons. Color analysis theories have made palettes more comprehensive for a range of skin tones.

“Your skin and your eyes and everything are loving the warm colors,” Durk told Kreisberg as he draped her in rusty orange.

A square rack contains fabric samples of more than one color in more than one color.  On the wall behind it is a frame of shades of different seasons.
Ashley Dork’s strokes of color, which she drapes over clients to help determine their seasons. (Dylan Miettinen/Marketplace)

The color business was far from a sure bet in early 2020 when Durk emptied his savings account to pay the $13,000 upfront cost of color theory and franchise training with British company House of Color.

Since then, the value of the franchise has nearly doubled, and House of Color—along with the popularity of color analysis—has grown from a few dozen consultants in the U.S. to more than 300.

“People just thought I was kind of way out there, basically, I’d pay somebody for a color palette. But now everybody knows what I’m talking about, ” said Cedar Boschen, who has done several color and style consultations, and estimates he’s paid about $4,000 for the services over the years.

“I was typified as winter in the four seasons. And then as a bright winter or a clear winter. And then I crossed over from winter to spring. I’m a quintessential spring,” she said. Explained.

When we spoke, she wore an emerald green dress with a navy shawl collar blazer and a classic red lipstick. She runs her own forensic accounting firm serving the entertainment industry, and says cultivating a strong personal brand is key to her business.

And in the age of social media, everyone has a personal brand, said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“People are starting to use these technologies to create that identity and present it to the world. And color is powerful,” he said.

The global image consulting market is currently around $4 billion, and services are appealing to a wider audience than ever before, beyond women of a certain age and class. Reed said it fits an old need: “I think we’re working hard to figure out these deep questions of identity, who are we, who am I?”

Back in Papillion, Nebraska, Lauren Kreuzberg and Debbie O’Keefe have the answer.

“Okay, you guys – autumn in the house!” Dork shouted. Kreuzberg was typed as a more neutral “dark blue autumn”, while her mother, Debbie O’Keefe, was typed as a more classic “autumn leaf” in the House of Color system.

As for the house that was painted, Durk said she went from $0 in her bank account five years ago and recently bought and renovated a historic building in downtown Papillion. There was enough income to decorate, where he moved his studio in June.

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