How to be Fearless - JILL KIRSH
Updated: Mar 23
Jill Kirsh - owner of Jill Kirsh Color
A funny thing happened to Jill Kirsh as she was developing her revolutionary color system. She realized the success of her new “you will shine if you are wearing a color that‘s in sync with your hair color system" did not, in fact, rely on the technology she had created but almost solely on her ability to get others to duplicate her vision.
This concept was so much more than just about color. It was about sparking joy and excitement. It was about adding a simplicity; an aesthetic to people’s lives.
But can you imagine breaking into an industry with a pre-existing set of rules that had dominated for decades? Saying to those in charge, “Um, excuse me, I think there is a better way.” Whoa! You’ve got to be extremely driven or a little bit crazy to even go down that path.
Well, Jill’s secret is that she is a big fan of people. She loves to watch others rise like a rocket into enthusiasm over the simplest of things in life. She loves to see them smile and laugh and sparkle. So it only made sense that her motivation in life was to empower others to know they are beautiful and to give them every tool they could to show it to the world. This is what gave her the strength to confront an established game and suggest they change the rules!
Her passion was strong, but the road was anything but a straight one.
Jill grew up in the fashion world with both of her parents working in the industry. At an early age she acquired a certain eye for what worked and what didn’t. She noticed how people reacted to clothes and to color and most importantly she observed that the existing color systems had somehow been made very complicated. But this was nothing more than an observation because Jill had her sites set on the world of acting.
As she learned this new craft, Jill found herself tapping into her color sensibility to develop her characters. An alive character would wear colors that made them pop. A sullen character would wear colors that drained them of life. It was a nifty little unknown detail that got her a fair amount of work. – Go Jill!
Well, it was on the set of a television show that she noticed something that would change her life. During a playback, Jill watched as the camera moved in on the woman speaking and she noticed something just wasn’t right. The Skin Tone Color System that had been used to choose her wardrobe and makeup just wasn’t working. The woman looked fragmented; out of sync and it was detracting from her message. It was just wrong. The beauty of that situation was that Jill didn’t just see what was wrong, she saw what would have been right!
She saw that it was her hair that framed the face. It framed the picture - her eyes, her smile. And in a flash she knew that if the hair had been used as the basis for the woman’s colors it would have worked beautifully. Wow! That was big! Home run there, Jill! Let’s do the wave!
Jill didn’t let this realization rest. She became driven to understand how this new perspective about color could be used. She continued to refine this idea by using her past knowledge of color and by working one-on-one with individuals. The end game was to use color to create the most alive, most vibrant picture. She wanted the colors and the person to come together as a whole. This wasn’t about just matching colors to your hair. This was about choosing the shades that complimented your hair color, which in turn made your eyes sparkle and your smile brightly shine.
She was rising above the current perspective of color and showing that shades of color affected people on a deeply personal level. The perfect shade (hue) could cut right through the dreariness of life and allow the loveliness of a person to shine. It didn’t just make them look good or bad, it affected their psyche. With the correct hue they were radiant!
I mean who wouldn’t want to be radiant!
I wonder which shade of red is right for you?
Now to bring it to market…..Ugh!!!
In the beginning, Jill was met with the “There is already a color system in place” crowd and then moved on to people who liked the idea but wanted to change it. These were "the experts" who just couldn’t see the whole picture. Jill would start down a potentially exciting path, and inevitably the new partner would say, "Your idea is cute but it'll be easier if we do it this way" and the campaign would ultimately fail.
After years of hard work Jill felt no closer to the kind of success she knew was possible than when she had started. Maybe they were right. Maybe there is already a system in place. Who needs a new one?
Nothing like having that “Maybe they’re right. This isn’t going to work.” moment to help inspire Jill to look closely at the decisions she had made along the way. She realized that she had been allowing her concept to be short changed and that it’s only hope for success was for her to adhere to her vision and to reject any alterations. She had to be incorruptible!
It became obvious that 90% had allowed her play the game but now she needed 100% to bring home the win!
So, Jill regrouped and focused on getting experts in her industry to fully duplicate the sweeping vision of her technology. But how could she do that? They were so indoctrinated into the established way of doing things that they just couldn’t see it.
Ah! That was it! She would have to show them. She would literally have to show them. The game was on. Jill now understood that if she could get these experts to witness customers experiencing the sheer joy of watching themselves go from drab to fab, they would fully understand her vision. This just wasn’t about a connection to color, this was about a connection to people!
The decision makers of the industry would see for themselves that the wearer, in one moment would realize that color was truly their friend and not the enemy. That on those days when they looked in the mirror and just felt “blah” that it wasn’t them being blah, it was just the hue they had on that wasn’t working. You know, the color they had been told by experts that was supposed to look great, but didn’t!
This would be a major game changer. They would realize that this understanding of color would give the masses a baseline to understand what really worked for them. It would make color simple.
I know the phrase, “The clothes makes the (wo)man” - but not if it’s the wrong hue!
Allowing "the experts" to see it for themselves was a brilliant idea and because Jill believed in and understood her technology to its core she knew it would work. So, she ignored the pleas to alter and adjust and committed to her own vision and it paid off.
Jill's beautiful work!