Hope Carlton enjoying life as fashionista

Hope Carlton tries out different design elements at a Grand Junction home she is decorating. Carlton is an extreme multitasker, working various fashion-related jobs in the Grand Valley. Carlton, who lived at the Playboy mansion for four months, was featured as Miss July in 1985.



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Hope Carlton tries out different design elements at a Grand Junction home she is decorating. Carlton is an extreme multitasker, working various fashion-related jobs in the Grand Valley. Carlton, who lived at the Playboy mansion for four months, was featured as Miss July in 1985.

Hope Carlton sits in front of an American flag in her Grand Junction home. Carlton is an extreme multitasker, working various fashion-related jobs in the Grand Valley. Carlton, who lived at the Playboy mansion for four months, as featured as Miss July in the 1985 issue.



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Hope Carlton sits in front of an American flag in her Grand Junction home. Carlton is an extreme multitasker, working various fashion-related jobs in the Grand Valley. Carlton, who lived at the Playboy mansion for four months, as featured as Miss July in the 1985 issue.

Hope Carlton working in her home make-up stuido.



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Hope Carlton working in her home make-up stuido.

Hope Carlton works in her home make-up studio.



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Hope Carlton works in her home make-up studio.

Hope Carlton at her Grand Junction home with her two dogs.



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Hope Carlton at her Grand Junction home with her two dogs.

Hope Carlton in her home make-up studio.



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Hope Carlton in her home make-up studio.

Hope Carlton shows off one of the homes she is decorating.



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Hope Carlton shows off one of the homes she is decorating.

QUICKREAD

Grand Valley Magazine Editor Krystyn Hartman was in a bind. She had hired a “high-end” photographer to shoot the women’s rugby team at what was then Mesa State College. But weather blew in, making the shoot impossible. On a recommendation, Hartman contacted Carlton about the assignment.

“I knew I wanted a certain look, so I thought, maybe we shoot them indoors and make them look as if they’ve been playing,” Hartman said. “(Carlton) said, ‘I’ll handle it.’ I was so completely blown away with the results. She knocked it out of the park.”

Hartman said she soon after invited Carlton to lunch “because I wanted her on my team.”

Hartman said Carlton agreed to work for her, but she had something to tell her. That’s when Carlton told Hartman about her work with Playboy.

“I sat back and laughed. That makes me want you to work for me even more,” Hartman remembered thinking.

“She is an absolute dream to work with. She works well under pressure. Things happen and I can always call on Hope to do it without compromise.”

Hiring a stylist is one thing, said Matthew Breman, president of Cranium 360. But finding someone who can make a subject feel comfortable to go on camera is an entirely different matter.

That’s what Breman finds working with Carlton.

“Half of the job is to make them look decent,” he said. “But keeping them relaxed is really important. It makes a huge difference if you can get somebody laughing. She brings a levity to every project we work with her.”

Breman’s company was hired to do advertising for an international company that sells industrial insulation. Company officials thought they wanted a male spokesman. Without the company’s permission, Breman filmed Carlton as a spokeswoman touting the company’s product and showed it to them.

“Now every video we do with them they say, ‘We want Hope,’” Breman said. “Would we have gotten the business with a male spokesman? Yes. But I think the outcome was better and the client was happier.”



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.

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