Saturday, March 24, 2007

So You Think You Want to be an Image Consultant?

I receive several calls and emails every month from people who want to do what I do for a living.

People naturally assume that my career involves lots and lots of shopping. How fun does that sound? For most women, it probably sounds like the best job in the world!

While yes, I do provide personal shopping services, there is far more to it than that.

There are several prerequisite skills for an image consultant:

- A Great Eye – This is something that can’t be taught. We look for harmony, balance and visual interest in our clothing and accessories. What flatters our coloring, our body and our face?

- Knowledge of Color – There are many facets of this. Personal color is just one of them. Which colors look best on a person? While this skill is entirely learnable, one must also have a great eye to put colors together to create visual interest and harmonious outfits. There is also the psychology of color and the use of color in creating slimming body lines.

- Understanding of Proportion – How do you make a long torso balance with shorter legs? What size print should a petite woman wear? Why are horizontal stripes almost always a bad idea? Again, this falls into the “great eye” category. You can learn this, but academic image training can only take you so far before instinct needs to kick in.

- The Art & Science of Shopping – This doesn’t mean if it’s pretty, you buy it. Shopping is easier said than done in most cases. Can you build a wardrobe from the ground up that looks like it was created with a master plan in mind? Can you help someone shop in their own closet – seeing new ways to use what they already have?

- Do you understand Fit? You don’t have to be a master tailor to know if an article of clothing needs a mere tweak or if it won’t fit properly regardless of what work is done to it.

If you want to be a working image consultant and do this full-time, it is imperative to have a good business mind. I spend the majority of my time – probably 80% - marketing. Networking, speaking engagements, my newsletter, the articles I write, my blog, and even my forthcoming book are some of the ways I market what I do. I have relationships with the media and with people in related professions who refer me business. I am in the paper, in magazines, or on TV on a regular basis.

I choose to work more with women’s groups and in the corporate realm more than doing individual one-on-one consulting right now. I market that part of my business more, so when someone chases me down for one-on-one services, I know they are really serious about working with me.

To be a full-time image consultant is a challenge, especially if you live in a market like Cleveland. We are naturally not as image-conscious as say, LA, Miami, or New York. And that’s one of the good things, quite honestly. To me, it means our people are more authentic, although sometimes they need to brush up on their fashion sense, or learn a thing or two.

But it’s also one of the bad things. It means there isn’t a lot of room for a huge number of people in this field here. With all things being equal, it’s those who do the business side of things best who rise to the top.

If you live in Ohio or PA and are interested in this field, please connect with me and you are welcome to join us for an AICI meeting. Our next events are April 1st and June 3rd, both in Columbus, Ohio.

To learn more about becoming an image consultant, contact my mentor Lynne Marks at the London Image Institute in Atlanta. Or you can do an independent study course with me from the Institute of Image Consulting.

No comments: