Image consultant Darin Wright is a color enthusiast. She analyzes color, feels its energy. She even sees human skin tones as a proxy for personality.
For the past 26 years, Wright has been hand-crafting makeup based on her clients' skin-tone profiles, which can be almost as personal as their DNAs. Her business, Elea Blake Cosmetics, has grown from a 2-foot by 4-foot tabletop display in a North Chattanooga day spa into a sun-splashed storefront on Brainerd Road.
Recently, Chatter Magazine sat down with Wright to talk about the evolution of her business and the release of her new book, "Find Your Strength: A Love Letter to Orange." An orange-themed party to mark the anniversary of her business and the debut of the book is scheduled for June 24, 7-11 p.m., at The Chattery at 1800 Rossville Ave.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Chatter Magazine: Talk about your new book. Why is orange such an important color?
Darin Wright: Orange is important because it's our foundational color. All humans are orange. We are different hues, different versions of orange. There are oranges that are more red, so people that are pinkish [fall into this range]. People like me are more golden; we have more yellow in our skin.
Chatter: So is it fair to say orange is a common denominator in skin pigmentation?
Wright: Yes, absolutely. ... [We're all] walking around in a big orange onesie.
Chatter: So you are trying to put people in touch with their inner orange?
Wright: Actually, their outer orange.
Chatter: Ah, of course. Is there something about orange that informs our personalities?
Wright: Yes, in a sense. In color psychology, orange is the color of strength. It's the color of energy. ... Orange is a fun color. It's very inviting. Orange is also brown in its darker versions. We all love the earth and nature. It's also very grounding.
Each particular orange has a feel to it. [For example], oranges that have more red have more of a power influence to them. ... In color psychology, red associates with power.
Chatter: How has your business changed over time?
Wright: I've had this business 26 years. I named the company after my twin daughters, Elea and Blake, when they were [5 years old]. It was 1997.
When I first started doing this, I had a little 2-by-4-foot table I rented from [a friend] of mine in Skin and Bones [day spa]. Then I was on Mountain Creek Road. My first Elea Blake-branded box was on Frazier Avenue. I was there for eight years. From there we went down on Chestnut Street for about eight years. ... We moved here [to Brainerd in 2020], and it's been awesome.
Chatter: How did your cosmetics line unfold?
Wright: When I first started this, my whole push was finding foundation shades for everybody. When I first started working in department stores, you could not find the right foundation for every human. It wasn't a possibility. I've had to take two different foundation shades and a powder and mix it together.
... That's how I got into crafting my own makeup. I started out with 10 colors. My clientele grew because I could find those specific matches for people in the undertones they needed. Originally I would make pretty colors, and then I started making pretty colors with purpose. And that's where we are now.
Chatter: I'm assuming that some of your clients have been with you for 20-plus years. What is that like?
Wright: I still have some of the very first clients I started with. ... I have had mothers and their daughters and now their daughters' daughters. Those connections are so much fun to see and be a part of.