During their first date, on Valentine's Day seven years ago, he gazed into her eyes at a romantic Italian bistro. But limpid pools, he confesses, were not what came to mind. "I'm looking across the table at this beautiful woman with flaming red hair," recalls Duane Abbajay, then a liquor distributor, "when I notice she has black eyes. So I said, 'Why do you have red hair and black eyelashes?' "
Luckily, Abbajay, now 38, didn't end up wearing his spaghetti. "I wasn't insulted, because I knew he was right," says Paula Pennypacker, 40, a former radio host who the year before had run for mayor of Toledo, Ohio. "I looked too harsh. Whenever I saw myself on TV, I thought, 'Ugh! That's not how I want to look.' "
It's just as well she didn't win the election. Capitalizing on the fact that most makeup colors weren't designed for the copper-topped, Penny-packer and Abbajay—they wed in '93—launched Just for Redheads, a mail-order company that is now red-hot. Offering some 100 products in tones ranging from Matte Toast lipstick to GingerRed mascara (50,000 tubes sold to date), the company expects sales of $700,000 this year. "In the old days we wore blue and green eye makeup, which made our eyes look like closed garage doors," says client Eileen Foley, 63, a green-eyed redhead. "Now I've got brown tones that I can't find anywhere else."
Given the company's success, it's little wonder that its founders, who now live in Sedona, Ariz., are looking at new horizons. "I'd love to get my hands on Fergie," says Pennypacker. "Her makeup is way too dark."
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