5 Minutes With Pantone’s Lisa Herbert: Color Expert

Pantone's Lisa Herbert

Pantone’s Lisa Herbert         (Graphic by Figmint Design)

In 2012, the soothsayers at venerable color forecasting powerhouse Pantone declared that it was the Year of Tangerine Tango, thereby ensuring that cases of sartorial scurvy would be practically nonexistent. We at Fashion Trends Daily fell under its juicy spell embracing it wholeheartedly. And now, we’re getting ready for the emerald invasion, as Pantone recently declared Emerald the color for 2013.

But we were not only utterly taken by all things Tangerine Tango in 2012, we were smitten with Pantone’s venture out into the mainstream. A company that had previously been known primarily among the design set — from graphic design to fashion and home — was finding a new wave of fans thanks to a cosmetics collaboration with Sephora and a huge product licensing push that was sending out Pantone color chip-inspired products in the form of mugs, iPhone covers, chairs, ornaments, bedding, a hotel and more.

We got some color on the company’s expansion plans with Pantone’s Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of consumer licensing at Pantone. Her father Lawrence Herbert invented Pantone in 1963 as a way to create a consistent color language in the graphic arts. The ramifications of this language were huge and soon “Pantone-ese” was being spoken in fashion, industrial design, home and many other industries. Pantone remained a family owned business until it was sold to Xrite in 2007, but the younger Herbert kept her father’s pioneering spirit at the company, catapulting it into a new technicolor world of design-hungry folk.

Fashion Trends Daily: How did you get your start in the family business? Universe Pantone Mugs

Lisa Herbert:  I went through different phases at the company. I’m the only one who lived and breathed the training. My dad asked me to join the company and build the database and I oversaw the [corporate] communications and branding side of the business. I helped create the Pantone Color Institute and that’s where you started to see Pantone outside of the industrial world.

FTD: Pantone used to be a name just for those in the design industry. What has fueled its popularity, in addition to the Sephora collab?

LH: We’ve been working on this for [many years] and consciously for about five years to be able to bring it to the consumer and allow the general customer to enjoy color and be empowered to use it like the professionals can. We wanted to figure out how we could come up with various product lines that can embody that, and cosmetics are one of the most natural extensions.

FTD: How far in advance do you project colors?

LH: Our color planner forecast is two years in advance and it’s seasonal.

FTD: How successful has the Sephora tie-in been? Pantone folding chairs

LH: [Last year] we totally outdid ourselves in terms of exposure, and what helped us was the strong product tie with Sephora

FTD: We’re crazy for all of the home goodies. What’s in store for the home category?

LH: We’re blowing out the houseware category. We’ll have many more kitchen accessories and bedding and bath. We have a Pantone Hotel in Brussels and we are planning to expand out the hospitality concept and roll out more hotels in Europe before we come to the U.S.

Pantone Colors by Pantone illustrated by Helen Dardik

Pantone Colors by Pantone illustrated by Helen Dardik

FTD: Are we at the tip of the iceberg for Pantone exposure?

LH: We’re really on the fast track to develop our name and bring it into the public. We’ve got Pantone in the 20th Century with Chronicle Books. And we’re also getting into the children’s market in the publishing world with Pantone Colors [by Pantone] which educates kids on the nuances of various color families. We teach them that there’s not not only one yellow but many shades. It’s been number one on Amazon and sold through its first printing.

FTD: Any hints on what we might see in Pantone’s future?

LH: Our strategy is to license, and we are picking partners that are suitable and understand that brand and can turn it into projects where they really understand our brand dna.

Photos and graphics courtesy of Pantone, Figmint Design and BeautyStat.com


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Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.