Beauty in Life’s Imperfections
By Chereen Langrill
Sue Macartney likes to put her own twist on a common expression: “When one door closes another one opens…but it’s the hallway in between that sucks.” Macartney knows what it feels like to get stuck in that hallway, but she has found a way to get through it: Make the most of what you have. Don’t get hung up on the imperfections. Macartney, the founder and owner of YOUR COLOR IMAGE CENTER, believes in making the most of what life hands you, whether it happens to be rough patches of dry skin or a rough patch in life. She has followed that philosophy in her career and also in her life, and perhaps that explains why, after 33 years as a color and image expert, her business still thrives. And her life? It’s all good.
Sometimes it’s all about how you choose to look at something. Macartney and her husband, Phil, decided they were ready for a change three years ago. They left their longtime home in Southern California and moved to Meridian after visiting a friend in Eagle and falling in love with the community’s laid-back, friendly vibe. Five weeks from the day they visited their friend, Phil and Sue Macartney had sold their home in Sherman Oaks and moved to a new home in Meridian. Macartney’s entire career was built in California, where she had grown a steady, loyal following in her industry. Yet she didn’t miss a beat when she decided to relocate to a new state.
Macartney expected her business to survive because of the strong bond she shares with her clients, and her instincts were correct. That bond is illustrated through one of her favorite stories about a longtime client who arrived for an appointment with her three-year-old daughter. The little girl had brought along some crayons and paper so she could stay busy coloring during her mother’s session. Suddenly Macartney noticed a horrified expression on the woman’s face. The little girl had colored on the carpet. Macartney laughed it off, saying it would wash off easily (it did). Now that little girl is a grown woman with a baby, and she is also one of Macartney’s clients.
Macartney’s greatest challenges have been more personal. After moving to Idaho, the Macartneys were healthy, making new friends and enjoying opportunities to get more involved in the community. Then last year, Macartney’s husband had rotator cuff surgery. And Macartney’s “routine” knee surgery required a six-month recovery. And her father passed away.
“The way I made it through was to be grateful for our family of friends, of community and our church family, and that we had decided to buy a home where I had room for a studio,” she says. “I have been very blessed.” Her lengthy recovery limited her mobility. But her in-home studio allowed her to keep working without the added challenge of a commute. The convenience of technology enabled her to have meetings in front of a computer monitor rather than driving to another location. She learned to graciously appreciate the kindness of friends, neighbors and members of her church family (her own family was back in California). Macartney deployed those same techniques this year when she was faced with another challenge. In May, her husband had a heart attack, followed by a triple bypass surgery. Her new support community brought ice, groceries, or assisted in any other way possible. “I would be the first to help them, too,” she says.
Macartney isn’t afraid of color. The walls in her home are covered in shades of purple, grey and even a black accent. It is tasteful and stylish, and also calming. It’s far from the safe-but-bland world of beige. It is hard to imagine Macartney living a beige life as a person or a professional. Her short, dark hair has a playful streak of purple near her forehead. Her bright eyes don’t hide behind layers of makeup. She looks pretty and put-together without looking like she is trying too hard.
“People say, ‘Why do I need this?’” Macartney says. “You make color choices every day. All day.” Makeup. Clothing. Jewelry. Hair color. Eyewear. Paint for your home. Colors for your garden. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we make decisions that will influence the way people respond to us for the entire day. If you’ve ever suffered through the unpleasant and insensitive observation that “you look tired,” this advice can change your life. “It’s more about the colors you are using,” she says.
It isn’t about what’s wrong with your natural coloring. It’s how to make the most of it. Macartney explains the science behind color as she is blending makeup that is ideal for your skin tone, eye color and hair color. Before she applies makeup, she drapes a colorful piece of fabric over your chest and shoulders. The fabric is a rainbow of color and helps illustrate how different colors interact with your skin. “Don’t look at the color,” she says as she lifts the drape closer to the face. “Just look at what it does to your skin.” The right color can calm the redness in your face and bring out the natural color in your lips. The wrong color can make you look washed out, or “tired.” As Macartney applies makeup, she explains what she is doing and shows her client the tools she uses. Part of her lesson includes turning the steering wheel over to the client to ensure she (or he – a few men also turn to Macartney for help) can use the same technique at home when they are on their own.
“What I’ve learned is that you’ve really got to think outside of the box,” she says. “What I did to get business 30 years ago won’t work today.” Macartney finds a way to connect with potential clients by using the tools designed to simplify a busy world: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other forms of media (she is also in the process of launching a new website). She also finds it “powerful” to meet face to face over coffee.
Remember that powder blue eye shadow you loved in the 80s? It’s probably not your best look these days. “It’s easy to get stuck,” she says. “‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’ You can’t do that.” Macartney’s success spans more than three decades because she has learned to make the most of each situation. She finds a way to make something work, making the best of her resources. “If they don’t make something anymore, there is a reason. I’ve learned over the years that when that happens, there is always something better,” she says. And when that door shuts, you can be sure that Macartney starts walking down that hallway with the confidence that an open window isn’t far away.
Sue Macartney, owner of YOUR COLOR Image Center, offers consultations to show the colors and styles that are right for all skin types and body types. She also sells her own line of custom blended mineral makeup and performs special services, such as applying makeup for occasions such as weddings and other important events.
For more information, visit www.YourColor.us or call 208-994-1081.
Sue Macartney was one of the first business owners to meet Idaho Women’s Journal publisher Karleen Andresen when she took the helm of IWJ in October 2011. One year later, Macartney continues to value the opportunities provided by IWJ’s networking events. As a self-employed business owner, Macartney explains she doesn’t have many opportunities to seek feedback, support and advice from like-minded women. “I get so much out of this energy from those other women,” she says. Networking at IWJ events enables Macartney to become a source of information for her clients because she learns more about her community and current events around town. And the support is invaluable. “It’s not about what’s in it for me,” she says. “It’s about how I feel when I leave this meeting.”