Defining the Student Color Analyst

Munsell Color Tree

As we look forward to meeting and training new students this year, Christine Scaman and I would like to provide a narrative discussing different aspects of the color analysis business for those of you who may be considering becoming analysts. This blog was written jointly, so you will hear two voices as we write differently.

For the majority of trained analysts, this career opportunity is everything they had hoped it would be and more. New analysts find both surprise and inspiration around every corner. They fulfill dreams they didn’t even know they had…the glamour, the generosity, and the psychology, along with a community that shares their profound curiosity in the same subject. For these analysts, there is no looking back, no other way they could have lived the rest of their lives.

As we begin this new endeavor, we don’t always know what we want it to become. PCA is a career that can fit into many lifestyles.

  1. Your business can be built into something as big as you want it to be with the devotion of time and dedication.
  2. It also can be the perfect hobby job, especially if you currently have children at home or are approaching your retirement years.

Whichever path you decide to take, it will have an impact on your income and the ability to recover your startup costs and turn a profit. If you choose to work your business as a hobby job, recovering those costs, of course, will not happen as quickly. Once trained, you will need to take time to decide what you want and how to proceed, so a second income lets you take your time. Keep your current job if you have one until you are comfortable knowing the direction of your business to make smart decisions.

Between us, Christine and I have trained 40 or more analysts in the past three years. We have gained much experience working with their different personalities, backgrounds, and expectations of this business.

To anyone who may be considering having a conversation with one of us for training, we felt we should define our own position in the PCA word as clearly as possible, followed by a list of issues to consider before taking on this new venture. It is important that this career be right for you and that you be right for it.

We believe in the Munsell system of classifying color as it was created based on how humans see color. Because it also represents the way humans are colored, it is the best platform for our purpose to date. This is quite important. A reader asked a great question about which Season wears a certain neon lipstick.  Neon and fluorescent colors do not appear in human beings. So when we wear them, they remain outside of or apart from us; i.e., the only thing the viewer can see.

Our basic premise is we are our most beautiful self when we wear the colors we already are. It doesn’t make sense to put colors together and create wardrobes with colors that make no sense on humans.

We believe in the work of Kathryn Kalisz, founder of Sci\ART, who organized the entire comprehensive sphere of Munsell color into 12 palettes that adhere to the 3 dimensions of color (light to dark, or value; warm to cool, or hue, and soft to bright, or saturation). The brilliance and discipline of her work cannot be overstated. Thanks to her, for many of us who were searching for answers, personal color analysis made sense at last.

We agree with Kathryn’s adaptability. We have seen, and have evidence of, changes in color choices she used in her palettes over the years. Her color palettes were always evolving – all versions slightly different, but none incorrect.

The original Sci\ART drape sets Christine and I each purchased from Kathryn had the same fabric colors used in more than one Season because they satisfied the color dimensions of each of those Seasons. The 12 Blueprints drapes have no duplications and also satisfy the color dimension of their assigned Season. Each drape does exactly what it is expected to do in its assigned place in the overall system.

Some students are surprised to find that although the drape colors harmonize into their assigned Season, they do not fall dead center in that Season…whatever that means…and dead center by whose definition? If there were only dead center colors to test with, how would an analyst be able to determine a client’s movement or range within their season without drapes that represent the entire season to evaluate them? Humans within the same season are not colored exactly the same, so the palettes and drapes need to reflect that.

Even though the natural order of color is a constant, we are of the mindset that color has great flexibility in how it is used with human beings. Indeed, it must have in order to serve the various natural pigmentations of the people who fall within each seasonal group. To be applied to the compromises that real shopping requires, some latitude will be necessary. Each person’s taste and other preferences can easily be applied to their own color palette. Our aim is to educate each client how to best embody their own coloring in attire and know what to buy and what to leave behind.

We advocate strongly that every analyst harmonize her own drapes when she unpacks them, and often during her career. We do with ours over and over. The more you study your drape colors, the more you come to understand the relationship of each drape to another in the set. You are not double-checking our work. You will be helping to verify your future results. Kathryn said you learn and understand color the more you study, compare, and use it.

These are the core beliefs at the heart of our approach to PCA. Our draping criteria are precise and thorough. When done correctly, every person is best expressed by only one Seasonal palette. Having seen this hundreds of times, the thoroughness with which every person’s colors are identified in Kathryn’s palettes is still our greatest source of awe.

Our focus is to implement this system in the real world for several reasons, including the ability to achieve a harmonized appearance and to educate a consumer make informed, empowered shopping decisions.

The palettes have great interactive potential and fascinating relationships which can work to each person’s advantage. A human being is not a rigid color chart. A seasonal palette is the touchstone shared by every person in that seasonal group. From there, endless possibilities exist for artistic, accommodating, modern presentations of oneself. Within the basic structure, there are many ways of being very right. Know those, and the ways of being wrong that apply to you, and the world of retail comes under your control.

A Meeting

Upon contacting one of us about training, we would like to start the process by speaking with you on Skype. It will be an easy, relaxed conversation where both you and the trainer will get to know one another better, allowing both to determine if it is a good fit. This is not meant to be a screening test where candidates would be declined for training, unless either feels there might be difficulty working together. This face-to-face meeting provides opportunity for both you and the trainer to ask questions of each other any aspect of PCA.

Is there an Ideal Student?

Not at all. Inclusivity matters. Everyone has a contribution. That said, businesses grow better, and consumers are more satisfied, when an audience is well defined.

Below are some questions and statements to think about while evaluating whether this career is right for you:

  1. Are you someone who desires something beautiful, expressive, and artistic in your life?
  2. Age – maybe 22 to 75? Besides the physical stamina to be on your feet for several hours at a time, age is not relevant. Every age demographic needs its representative. So does every other collection of people who experiences the world as only they do. Although color vision may slightly change over the years, it doesn’t seem to interfere with PCA. In the same lighting and surroundings, every person may see color differently to some small extent but should not affect the reliability of PCA decisions.
  3. Location – The larger the population, the more prospective clients exist; but it is also harder to get their attention. Certain areas such as Vancouver down to L.A. have a large PCA interest. Being on our website Directories will increase the exposure to potential clients. Professional populations, cities with many civil services or large online communities, create steady growth. Willingness and ability to travel can quickly expand your client list.
  4. Gender – Makes no difference. We have met some male clients who would be outstanding color analysts.
  5. Experience working with the public. Anyone who has done so will tell you that there is a learning curve. The great majority of people you will meet will be lovely and remain long time friends. Friction can happen, not because a person intends harm, but because she is trying to come to grips with some belief that she or you has.
  6. A healthy skepticism about the fashion and cosmetic marketing world – perhaps even a little defiance of it. Color analysis is the ideal opportunity to free others of media’s influence on how people should look and what they should spend.
  7. The willingness to embody a modern approach to beauty. To stand up and celebrate who you are, as you are, is provocative and magnetic. Having your own personal journey to share bonds clients with you. To give another person the gift of being perfectly content with who they are may be the best reward that a color analyst receives.
  8. Willingness to practice. Loving something is not enough to be good at it. By the time you are on your 20th-30th client, you will start seeing the patterns repeat and make more sense.
  9. Patience with people. Some of our clients arrive literally exhausted by everything they have tried and all the conflicting advice they have received. Right now, what they need is an island of calm, a quiet listener, and an organized approach. In time, they might need repeated exposure to this new Season they couldn’t cope with the first time. At her best, a color analyst becomes a trusted advisor.
  10. Patience with yourself. This is not a get-rich-quick business. Your phone won’t ring just because you were trained. Depending on where you live, word of mouth may not be enough. There is too much noise in the consumer’s ears and too much pressure on their appearance budget.
  11. Most of us find it hard to promote ourselves. The key is to find the means that is comfortable for you. Giving away information of value is a good way to be noticed. If, on the first Monday of the next 3 weeks, your newsletter, blog post, or Pinterest board had great recommendations for makeup or shoes or whatever, you think they won’t be looking for your installment in Week 4? I can tell you they will. Give people something of value. Figure out what would be of value to you. They feel the same way.
  12. Do you have a second source of income from a career that is, or might become, part time? Alternatively, freedom on weekends and evenings to see clients.
  13. Available studio space in a room that can be painted, ideally with separate entrance and bathroom.
  14. No big events coming up in the immediate future after training. Babies, weddings, exams, and moves take big chunks of time. It is important to be able to begin practicing as soon as you return home so the education stays fresh in your mind.
  15. Realistic expectations about beginning and owning a business. You will be an entrepreneur, solving problems as it suits you best. These issues won’t all come along on the same day. One at a time, and soon they will be behind you. As a business owner, there will be days when you feel that you have to wear every hat. A small price for the person you will come to see in the mirror.
  16. Consider your own level of flexibility. If you are a person who believes that PCA can only serve if it is locked down to a color chart, there are better companies to work with.
  17. Enough interest in clothing retail, cosmetic application, and hair color (not the technical formulas, just the color) to learn the basics. We hear, “I got it when I saw the makeup,” over and over. Hair color tends to be a woman’s most difficult adjustment. The analysts find hair color easier to learn about than they expected. Media makes it all look bigger than necessary.
  18. Like massage therapists, some analysts work better with the data, the clinical, and the facts. Others are comfortable with the mysteries, intuition, and feeling. Each person needs to have some of the other to get this job done or be willing to strengthen those areas with training and practice.
  19. A moderately decisive character. Deciding too fast is not good. First impressions definitely matter, but shotgun choices can lead us astray. Avoiding commitment or wanting every choice is not helpful either. PCA is comparison-based. You will have to choose despite what the client believes or wants to hear.
  20. A desire for helping people. An appreciation of the beauty in every person. An ability to silence your own voice, truly listen to your clients, and dedicate ourselves to solving their problem.
  21. A person who is attracted by participation in an active community focused on learning, leveraging social media, and continuing education. Attending a meeting every year or two is very helpful. Color analysts often work on their own and can develop odd habits, or great habits, which would be helpful to teach colleagues.
  22. A person who prioritizes passion and mission above risk and the unknown. If your 80-year-old self will congratulate you on never having taken chances, there are better choices in more standardized, predictable professions.
  23. To hear that our businesses, as trainers and providers of support materials, will grow, change, and evolve just as yours will, and think that is normal and expected. Christine and I examine our work continuously. You may have to adapt to improvements of various sorts. Every business with a healthy, thriving life of its own looks different in 2016 than it did in 2013.
  24. As some analysts leave the profession from time to time, the question has been what to do with the drapes. A Drape Resell Group would be an option, similar to college campuses have for students to purchase used textbooks. This group would be run by the analysts themselves, not through 12 Blueprints. Christine and I would be pleased to train people who purchase these “gently used” drapes if they are available. Christine has one set which was recently returned. They are gorgeous and in mint condition. Let us know your plan about the drapes when we Skype.

Life is a work in progress. Christine and I are works in progress. A color analyst is a work in progress. A PCA system, the cosmetics line, and the Neutrals Collections are all works in progress. And that direction is forward.

From that same word sequence, some will hear evolution, others uncertainty. Some will feel ambiguity, instability, and frustration. Others will be excited by the thought of expansion, momentum, and the opportunities of a fluid footing. There is no wrong way to feel. To bring together people who can best grow together, we belong to the second group. If you do too, send us an email. Let’s create amazing things together.



2 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    July 28, 2016

    And what if I live on the other side of the world from you, and STILL want to be trained? What if after a decade of seeking I have reached here..and here is EXACTLY where I wanna be?


    • Avatar
      August 14, 2016

      Many students have come to the U.S. and Canada for color training to begin a business in their own country. If you have further questions, please ask.