Image Consulting is a nascent yet very powerful field of work in India. The focus in our culture has been to gather academic degrees and there are many institutes offering degrees. However, there is minimal focus on how to present ourselves as credible or how to gain visibility in today’s competitive world. This is exactly where Image Consultants offer valuable guidance and coaching. My story goes something like this.
Starting off as a Recruitment consultant I got into the world of Image consulting in lieu of helping some of the candidates achieve greater success by addressing needs of basic interviewing and dressing skills. I did a lot of research on dressing protocols for professionals and took up a program in colors and wardrobe strategies. I suddenly found myself very excited about my profession and about application of knowledge to help others succeed. A few months later, I got trained and certified as an Image Master by my mentor Karen Brunger of International Image Institute, Toronto.
I felt a strong calling to come back to my own country and pass on the information to the executives about how to use dressing and body language to their advantage. In 2011, I started my journey as an Image Consultant in Bangalore and I would like to share some insights with the aspiring image consultants on how to begin their journey and be successful.
Key to success is your passion and attitude. While its great to put financial goals to any business, it is equally important to outline the “value” that you will bring to your clients. Being an image consultant is not just about telling them how to dress, it is about being their partner and their mentor through their journey. You may have to switch hats while working with clients from being a fashion consultant to being a body language expert to being a success coach.
How to begin:
The most important stepping stone to start a career in Image Consulting is to get trained and certified by an experienced Image Consultant. Someone who has been there and done that! Someone who can teach you tricks of the trade. It helps to get trained by someone who can train you on a holistic approach including color, style, body language, business etiquettes, and business development strategies.
Difference between a Fashion Designer/Stylist/Image Consultant
Even though there can be overlap between the three professions there are clear distinctions between them.
A Fashion designer is a creative expert who designs garments out of their inspiration and imagination.
A Stylist identifies designs of garments that suit the occasion and body type of their client.
A competent image consultant will assess colors that suit client’s skin tone, assess their lifestyle and body type for best styles, may prepare clients mentally for an event, groom the client with confident body language and etiquette. An Image Consultant follows a holistic approach to bring out the best in their clients by focusing on appearance, body language, and communication.
Image consulting industry is so new in India that there is a lot of confusion in the market about who is an Image Consultant and how are they different from a soft skills trainer or a stylist. The other challenge is that there is no centralized professional body of Image Consultants in India that regulate image consulting standards. I have found many professionals labeling themselves Image Consultants without having any formal training or certification. There is a huge disparity between the fees charged by Image consultants in the country because some are trained and some are not.
Dealing with Industry Challenges:
As a part of preparing to be an outstanding image consultant, here are the things one must do:
1. Get formal training and certificate in Image Consulting
2. Be a member with Association of Image Consultants International (www.AICI.org). This will help you be connected to global Image Consulting Industry.
3. Educate potential clients and friends on your expertise and the value you can provide.
4. Mentor with an Image Consultant to get experience in industry
In last 4 years, I have been a speaker to top management institutes like IIM and XLRI, I have facilitated corporate training workshops on “executive presence” for MNCs, I have worked with actress Kalki Koechlin, and I have been quoted in Femina Magazine for “Personal Branding”. I was able to establish credibility in the industry only through passion and consistency in maintaining high professional standards.
It is going to be a slow and tough road but if you keep your professional standards high and continue with passion to help others, you will make it big in the industry.
Author: Madhulika Verma