There’s a good reason why Karen Frascone is known as “the purple lady,” and she’s happy to be known for it.
It started with a simple business card and has become something of a passion as she works to set herself apart in the insurance business.
Frascone owns Pfaff-Karren Insurance in Independence, something she’s also passionate about. But it was quite a journey to get to where she is now.
She grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin, where she met her husband.
“We spent a year hitchhiking through Europe,” she says. “When we returned, we decided to continue the adventure and live somewhere unique. We did a very long road trip which involved 30 nights in a two-man pup tent and ended up in Dallas, Oregon, where we knew no one. That was 40 years ago and we’re still here.”
After several years working for a law firm, Frascone wanted something more challenging.
“My husband was starting to talk about early retirement, and the question of what someone does for health insurance when they retire was on our minds,” she says. “No one could really give us a good answer, but in the process of asking the question, I ended up going to insurance school to get my life and health license. I was in insurance school on the day of my 50th birthday.”
Frascone started as an independent agent working out of a Portland office.
After trading business cards at a networking event, she wanted something of her own that would stand out. The printer gave her several options, “and the one that stood out the most was purple,” she says.
With the choice made, Frascone had 50 sample business cards printed on purple stock. At her first Salem Chamber Greeters, she dropped her card in the drawing for a door prize.
“My card happened to get drawn but the Greeters chair didn’t have his reading glasses, couldn’t pronounce my name and so called out, ‘The lady with the purple business card.’ That stuck.”
If she had paid someone huge amounts of money to create a branding for herself, she probably couldn’t have created any better branding than “my accidental ‘purple,’” she says. “It suddenly became easy to shop in one color. The ‘purple from head to toe’ comment was made, and for the last 12 years, I’ve had some degree of purple highlights in my hair.”
Her toes have purple polish and her nails are in various shades of purple sparkly colors. At her office, she sits in a purple chair and has purple desk accessories and art. Even her car is wrapped with her agency advertising and features “beautiful curves of purple glitter,” she says.
“Purple is the color of passion, and I am truly passionate about helping my clients,” Frascone says.
When she first opted for purple hair, Frascone worried the color could be off-putting or less than professional.
“In fact, the complete opposite has happened,” she says. “Referrals call our office and ask for the ‘purple lady.’ One of my favorites was kind of a rough older gentleman who had worked in the timber industry until retirement. With a great big smile, he pulled a very crumpled purple business card out of his wallet that had been given to him by a friend who had highly recommended me.”
Frascone has been the life and health insurance agent at her current location for the last 10 years and loves her work.
“Two and a half years ago the agency owner was ready to retire after it was in his family for 70 years,” she says. “I love what I do so the solution was to purchase the agency. I have a fabulous business partner who oversees the property and casualty division. So, at a time when all our friends are retired, I am in full active mode.”
In her spare time, she loves gardening and yard work. “I have hundreds of flowers,” she says. “I love to read, and my husband and I still do adventure traveling although it’s a bit harder for me to find the time to get away.”
Frascone advises anyone who wants a new career later in life to just start.
“First of all, there is no later — now is the time,” she says. “If you have something you’ve always wanted to do, figure out what you need to get started and start. Whatever you decide, believe in what you do, trust that you have what it takes to succeed and go forward every day with passion.
“Study and keep learning to be the best at whatever it is you want to do,” she adds. “We all like to be around positive, passionate, confident people who are great at what they do. Your passion may not be ‘purple,’ it may not be a color at all, but I truly believe it is an attitude and it becomes part of you so strongly. The ‘passion projection’ is what leads to success.”
Frascone has learned when doing what you love, there is no separation between work and life.
“I love helping my clients with all aspects of health insurance,” she says. “I love that so much of my business has come from referrals. So, I am still the very passionate, very purple health insurance agent.”