What’s the Difference?
“Oh – you’re a stylist!” … is just one of the comments I often hear when I introduce myself as a Professional Image Consultant. Other responses range from “image what?” or “you mean wardrobe consultant?” Allow me to explain…
An image consultant is a new profession in the image industry. The concept of “image” has existed for many years in other businesses – cosmetics, hair, esthetics, and more recently marketing and communications. While image consulting remains relatively unknown in Canada, it is a growing industry in the United States. A burst of energy and popularity has consequently given life to this new profession known as “image consultant”. Why?
Creating the right first impression is critical in today’s fiercely competitive fast-paced world. Promoting oneself effectively, both as an individual and company is vital. Technology including the Internet allows us to conduct business locally, nationally and internationally.
When reflected appropriately, our personal brand – how we visually present ourselves – is an effective marketing tool that will create a distinctive edge in business. Actively promoting our businesses and our- selves using personal image and professional brand management gives us the opportunity of distinguishing ourselves from others.
Visually, image consultants see all the possibilities while remaining objective. Focusing on untapped potential, image consultants work to gently advance the client towards opportunities and objectives by developing their full potential. On a personal level, image consultants help real people identify and express their individuality through personal image by using visual presentation (clothing and grooming) as one of the tools.
At a corporate level, image consultants help companies of all sizes, in all industries, identify and express excellence through professional brand management by working with their most valuable asset, their team.
An image consultant can enhance a company’s image by:
• Reviewing and reinforcing an existing dress code with staff
• Creating and implementing a new dress code that will work for everyone
• Educating staff to handle sensitive image issues
• Conducting group workshops on topics that directly affect the bottom line
• Facilitating training in groups or individually
Image consulting is often regarded as the love affair between human resources and public relations. What a productive partnership!
When shopping for an image consultant, ask about experience, credentials, training and references. Professional image consultants understand and respect these requests. Although other professionals are part of the image industry, they are not image consultants unless they trained in image consulting.
During a personal consultation, a seasoned image consultant will:
■ Recommend, as would a colour consultant, the best colours for your eyes, hair and skin tone. Mixing and matching your wardrobe becomes easier and simpler while eliminating costly mistakes, thus saving you money.
■ Recommend, as would a body & style consultant, the most becoming styles for your body shape, height and personality. Choosing the appropriate styles, fabrics and prints most suited to your body type, height and personality that will help you look and feel fabulous.
■ Audit your wardrobe, as would a wardrobe consultant, in order to eliminate old and outdated items that may be hindering your personal or professional success. As well, create practical and effective wardrobe modules to simplify the process of getting dressed.
■ Incorporate, as would a fashion consultant, current fashions to your wardrobe while keeping in mind your personality, lifestyle and budget in order to help you promote a confident and updated image!
■ Recommend, as would a stylist, the most appropriate styles for your needs and lifestyle so you can be sure to have the perfect outfit for any occasion, activity or event all the time!
• Take you on a shopping excursion, as would a personal shopper, to help you master the “art of shopping” effectively and efficiently so you gain the confidence to do it on your own.
Professional image consultants often join organizations or associations such as AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) to enhance their reputation, credibility and working relationships with others. AICI is a worldwide non-profit association of men and women specializing in visual appearance, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication. AICI promotes and supports image consultants while enhancing and furthering the profession of image consulting. (www.aicicanada.com)
Whether you’re looking for personal or professional advancement or to enrich and empower your life, seriously consider partnering with an image consultant to achieve your goals. It is a wise investment for men, women, and children! There is a perfect image consultant out there ~ just right for you!