Hope Carlton enjoying life as fashionista
Take a seat at Hope Carlton’s work station and you start to feel a bit glamorous even before the pampering begins. A cluster of white globe lights mix with the sunlight flooding in from generous windows. Sizing up a client, she pulls brushes and a palette of makeup off a nearby shelf, organized neatly. A smattering of rose to fuchsia-colored home accents set off the studio, friendly shades of pink that might elicit a giggle from the most earnest tomboy. Her new current music fav, Pandora’s Pink Martini station with French music undertones, streams in from the living room.
For a photo op, she strokes some purple eyeshadow over a reporter’s eyelids, but Carlton is quick to add that this impromptu session is unique.
“I usually spend 20 minutes just on the eyes,” she explains.
At 47, Carlton knows how to put anyone’s best face forward. She’s put in the time being either in front of or behind a camera since age 3. Starting as a toddler, Carlton modeled extensively, appeared in more than a dozen movies and television shows, performed voiceovers and has been featured in countless commercials. One of her defining moments came at age 19, on her birthday actually, when Carlton was being photographed on the set of Playboy, later to be featured as Miss July in 1985.
Carlton lived at the Playboy mansion for four months, but “I was not a trouble-making girl,” she said recently from her comfy, denim-covered sofa in her living room.
“Even though I was young, I really wanted it as an opportunity to grow. Playboy is very classy, but back then it was more controversial.”
Carlton’s modeling career started to soar when she was 17, as she worked her way up to the top model position for an agency in the Tampa Bay area. It was there that she was discovered by Playboy.
Life for Carlton has, so far, been a series of adaptations.
She currently juggles several jobs in the Grand Valley. Carlton runs her own makeup artistry business, Perfect Touch.
She works as the style editor for Grand Valley Magazine, coordinating photo shoots for its style section. She teaches yoga and freelances for production projects at Cranium 360. She also works as a design consultant in interior design.
Carlton, with her ex-husband Robert Levin, founded Sorrel River Ranch on Highway 128 near Moab, Utah. Carlton said she was involved in every aspect of design on the ranch and developing the equestrian program. Though she and her ex-husband co-founded and ran the business for nearly 15 years, she received none of the benefits of the ranch’s multimillion-dollar sale in 2008.
The two have a teenage daughter.
Partly as a way to cope with the fallout from her divorce, Carlton delved into her spirituality. She most closely aligns with being Buddhist. At age 42, she had the insides of her wrists tattooed with the symbols of strength and love.
“I would see them when I held my head in my hands and cried,” she said, mimicking the movement.
In 2006, Carlton moved to Grand Junction to be near girlfriends and to have a support group. When she first came to town, she sold face cream.
“You do what you have to do to survive,” she said. “I had to reinvent myself.”
These days, a lot of business comes from word-of-mouth advertising.
“People know who I am and know how hard I work,” she said. “I have a joke that I graduated with a degree in common sense.”
Carlton sees this next stage of her life as moving away “from the stigma of a Playmate and pretty face to a business woman and an entrepreneur.”
“It’s important to be looked at not only as a woman, but a smart woman — capable and independent. That is more important to me now than just being physically attractive. That certainly changes as you get older,” she said.