I have a best friend from high school who’s a true minimalist. That trait is reflected in her home, wardrobe, and her words.
Recently we were chatting on the phone and she asked, “What’s rewarding?”
I’ve been thinking about those two words for days.
Image consulting is a feel good career
This career is so incredibly rewarding. I’m never surprised to hear about people leaving other careers to become an image consultant and start their own business.
Why? Where else can you spend your days making someone understand their unique beauty and transform poor self-image into confidence and radiance?
In this profession, you can get feedback like this every day:
“Your plan for my trip worked perfectly. I never once worried about having the right clothes.”
“I was so anxious about getting the right outfit for my interview but when I put myself in your hands, all my worries disappear!”
“You’ve done more for my self-esteem than years of therapy could!”
It took a leap of faith for me to believe this rewarding career could also sustain me. I remember vividly the moment I made the decision to go for it and do everything I could to make this work for my family and me.
Starting with a jobette, going for a career
I was newly divorced with three little kids. I won’t deny it; I was so afraid of not making it. I’d been out of the workforce for 12 years. How was I going to pay the rent? I’d been dabbling in image consulting, but quite frankly, it was barely a jobette and nowhere near a career. In my married life my jobette had paid for pretty dishes and linens, not rent, utilities and food.
I had a choice to make. Do I go look for a real job or do I attempt to turn this jobette into a sustaining career? With “fear” chomping at my ankles, I decided to go for it.
I started marketing my services
I looked for every opportunity to give presentations, workshops, or be a guest speaker at a professional meeting. That’s where I talked about results my clients enjoyed. People in the audience would come up to me afterwards and tell me they wanted those results, too. Yes! A new client!
I started a newsletter. Wherever I was, if my career came up I asked people if they’d like to be on my mailing list and receive my newsletters which were packed with fashion and style tips. They said yes.
I divided my time between working with clients and working to get clients.
How my business grew
It took effort to get new clients, which I needed to grow my business.
If I look at the time I invested in marketing compared to the time I spent with clients, I can see the results. Take a look at my formulas of working with clients to marketing efforts to keep them and get new ones.
My formulas for success
In the beginning when I looked at my calendar, there were lots of open spaces. Maybe I had 20% of my available time filled with client appointments. That meant I spent about 80% of my time marketing my business.
As my business grew, my energy for marketing compared to my work with clients moved to 50/50. Fifty percent of the time I was working with clients and the other fifty percent of the time I was planning how to get more appointments.
Then the percentage of effort flipped the other way. With 80% of my calendar filled with client appointments, I used 20% of my time to market my business or maintain contact with the clients I already had.
When you’re new in the business, it can seem daunting to spend 80% of your time marketing for new business, but your efforts are never in vain.
Recently I was with a client who hired me near the beginning of my career. We were reminiscing, trying to remember when we first started working together.
“Just a minute, I have a file on you,” Kathi said.
She pulled out a thick file full of original materials I’d sent to her, including fun marketing materials I’d created for my clients. One of them was a holiday gift booklet I’d made back in 1995!
“Where would I be without you?” Kathi said. “Thank goodness I never have to worry about that. I’m so lucky to have you in my life!”
The rewards outweigh the effort
Is growing a business easy? It takes effort, effort that can be fun. Is it rewarding? Oh yes, a thousand times over.
Brenda Kinsel E.T.C. is here for you. Let me know if I can help. We have classes, coaching, and a great marketing program to help you reach and keep those clients who won’t ever have to worry about managing their wardrobes and their image without you!
Stick around. You have a beautiful career ahead of you.
TAKE ACTIONABLE STEPS TOWARD YOUR CAREER
I’m convinced that people who find this profession are some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met.
However, I’ve been around this industry long enough to meet some of these passionate people early in their careers and then, sadly, seeing them give up and drop out.
Passion isn’t enough
The thing that supports our passion and keeps it alive and healthy is taking persistent actions in the direction of our dreams and having the patience to watch those dreams grow into reality.
I started out with a passion to help people over thirty years ago, however, I didn’t have a career as an image consultant overnight.
It took persistent action to gain the confidence and reach the clientele who invested in what I had to offer: tools to change men and women’s lives for the better by matching their clothes to their passions, lifestyles and goals.
Starting where I was
I had some great transferable skills that included a background in retail.
For several years I was an artist in the wearable art movement, creating one-of-a-kind pieces that were shown in galleries.
But when I wanted to create “art” on people by helping them have wonderful wardrobes, there was a lot to learn! I had to create my list of services, my marketing materials, practice, and get more training.
When I started I didn’t have a lot of clients filling my appointment book. But I maintained an image of myself as a professional image consultant. When I wasn’t working with clients I was busy learning, researching, and creating marketing plans.
I was taking persistent action in the direction of my dreams.
Actions you can take to lead you toward your thriving business
If you’re new to the image business or thinking about getting started, here’s a list of actions that could support your passion.
- Look to your community colleges for classes you can take that could include fashion retail, the history of fashion, business courses, merchandise analysis, or image consulting courses.
- Check out the aici.org website (Association of Image Consultants International) to see what training is available and consider joining this professional organization that is made up of other consultants like you.
- Sign up for webinars or teleseminars in marketing or business subjects.
- Training-on-Demand courses are available where you can learn at your own pace from home. I offer on-demand courses to teach consultants how to work with a client from the first client appointment and on, including style, closet work, and shopping. Whatever knowledge or training you need to grow your business, you’ll find courses in this format.
- Research current fashion trends by getting into the stores. Do more than look; try things on and learn about current trends. If you have favorite salespeople, ask them what’s selling well this season. Learn about their favorite pieces, products, or wardrobe solutions.
- Keep up with your own image. Remember you are your own best advertisement for your services. I do my own style homework every season using the same worksheets I ask my new clients to fill out. I make new outfits for myself and use my Wardrobe Charts to document them. I do the things for myself that I do with my clients. It keeps me authentic when I practice what I teach.
- Read business fashion blogs, magazines, and fashion sections of leading newspapers. You’ll have more to share with your clients when you keep abreast of everything that’s going on. You become a great source of knowledge, which will help you when you’re consulting with your clients.
- Say YES to every speaking engagement, even if it makes you nervous to do public speaking. This is the easiest and best way to get new clients and build your business. It’s good exercise to stand up in front of people and share what you believe to be true. Don’t be afraid to be the authority and expert in you field. If you’re nervous about what to say, see my Monthly Marketing Bundle Program where I provide members with a new speech outline every month!
- Be sure to collect email addresses wherever you speak so you grow your marketing list of potential clients.
- Start a newsletter. It doesn’t have to be big, just consistent. You’ll grow your list organically by speaking, networking, and bringing it up in conversation that you have a fashion newsletter and would they like to receive it?
- Connect with other image consultants. It’s a great way to stay enthused about your career.
- Get a stack of books about business and marketing. Start reading and implementing a couple of favorite ideas each month. At least 50% of having an image business is marketing the business. Yes, like it or not, it’s true. Make friends with marketing.
- Write a few marketing pieces that reflect your point of view. What are your Must-Haves for Spring/Summer? What is on your Top 10 List of Favorite Products? Your audience wants your opinion. These are pieces that can be used in so many places. You’ll be happy you have them on hand.
There isn’t anyone I know who hasn’t faced fears of failure. You will too. If you stay in action, your fear of failing in this business will disappear. When fear rears its head, you can calmly remind yourself that you are taking actions consistent with people who are building careers.
Just remember, by adding persistent action to your passion, you are bound for success!