The average Joe or Jane might not know difference between an image consultant, a fashion stylist, and a personal shopper. Do you?
Let’s say you decide to hire a painter to help create your dream kitchen. Would you tell the painter, “Go out and pick some colors and surprise me”?
Well, if that’s your approach, you’re braver than me. What if he shows up with only pastel colors? As much as I love to cook, pastel-colored walls will keep out of the kitchen!
I find that, unfortunately, many personal style professionals aren’t clear themselves on the differences inherent to these roles.
It’s just as important for clients to hire the right professional as it is for professionals to know precisely the type of services they want to offer and are able to provide.
When you understand your roles and how you intend to serve your clients, it’s much easier to know how to manage your client’s expectations and be successful.
There are three main service roles in the personal style profession: the image consultant, the stylist, and the personal shopper. Since it’s a lot of information, I’m going to cover each role as separate posts.
The distinctions are important and warrant individual considerations so that we don’t over promise and under deliver results to our clients.
Let’s first look at the role of the image consultant.
The image consultant
Imagine you want to build your dream home with the kitchen as the main meeting place for your family. You might consider hiring an architect to design the layout of your home to achieve your vision. A good architect is not merely a carpenter or an engineer. Using their expertise, they will discuss with you and educate you about the best way to build your dream house so that it is harmonious with its surroundings and meets the unique needs of you and your family.
An image consultant is similar to an architect in that they take the dual role of clarifying the client’s personal image vision and educating them because they are able to see the bigger picture.
The architect is concerned with the overall vision of the construction project and its context, and so is the image consultant. The consultant will be mindful of the client’s audience and personality, not just their personal style, because you see that your client’s audience – whether it is his customers, family, or friends – has visual expectations for what competence and credibility look like.
the image consultant as a creative visionary
Personal style is important for feeling comfortable and confident, and yet, if you’re an image consultant, there’s more to it than putting together pretty outfits and making people look good in their clothes. You consider the kind of people your client interacts with and how his visual presentation can best serve his needs in each of those environments. There’s an art to guiding clients to be mindful of his or her audience that the image consultant should master. As an example, I would recommend nude color pumps for a job interview before recommending pumps embellished with red sequins.
It’s the consultant’s job to guide and educate their client to make appropriate impressions for different audiences while helping them achieve their personal and professional goals.
what a creative visionary needs
As the creative visionary, the image consultant should have relevant experience in industries specific to the clients’ needs, lifestyles and be able to ask the right questions to understand their life and audiences.
For instance, many of my clients are corporate executives and hence are number-oriented and analytical. I know their world well because I, too, was a corporate executive for many years in the insurance industry. The experience I bring from that sector is invaluable to the way I help them get clear on their true self. It is why I conduct a personality assessment so I can gain an objective understanding of their behaviors.
Where my corporate clients work, although self-expression is important, it is secondary. Since their jobs require a lot of structure, it’s easier for me to advise professionals who deal with similar backgrounds. The guidance I provide would be very different if I had clients who were involved in photo shoots for fashion magazines, politicians that are running for office, or costume designers for television shows. Other image consultants are better suited for these markets.
Who are you, and whom will you serve? Before you decide, read the next two posts.
Next up, the role of the fashion stylist.
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