Oh, I love my job! This was me yesterday after finishing work with a client. There should have been a video. I’d have been dancing the happy dance!
So here’s the scenario: I have two sisters who have been clients for over two decades. One of the sisters has adult kids and now two of them have been clients for years.
One of them is getting married in three months and I’m helping with everything: dressing the bride-to-be for the wedding and rehearsal dinner, dressing the groom and his two little boys, dressing the mother and the aunt for both the wedding and the rehearsal dinner, dressing the brother who will be officiating at the garden wedding.
We’ve already helped the couple with the rings. Russ, my partner, is doing the photos and I’m taking the B roll photos at the wedding and the party afterwards. So, big project!
Oh, and the best part is they’re getting married on July 1st. It’s the bride’s grandmother’s wedding anniversary and it’s also the wedding anniversary of my parents. I’m quite fond of July 1st.
Last week we worked with the bride-to-be and nailed the wedding dress. She’ll look gorgeous. Check.
This week we worked with the mother-of-the bride and nailed her wedding day dress and her rehearsal night dress.
Minds were blown.
Here’s what happened during the pull. The mother-of-the-bride is a cardholding member of the Taupe Fan Club. Yes, taupe. Plain taupe, light taupe, dark taupe, no prints. Just taupe. I’ve been helping her spread her color wings a bit but we’re not flying anywhere fast.
During the pull I discovered her safe word. While going through the racks if I pulled out something that was “absolutely no, it reminds me of my mother” she would use the word, Mom. Great, nothing that would remind her of Mom looks. I avoided those dresses but in exchange I asked her to keep an open mind. “Just keep an open mind,” I’d say. And she’d shake her head up and down and say very unconvincingly, “I will, I will.” She’d have flunked a lie-detector test.
It’s a hard thing to weigh. Do you help a client stay in her comfort zone, her happy place? Or do you think about the occasion, the setting, and come up with ideas that will scare her for sure, even though they could be right?
When she wasn’t looking, a grabbed a pink floral Ted Baker dress. This woman is FAMOUS for her garden. She tends to it religiously. She gave me the lowdown last week about her plans for being sure all the plants would be in full bloom. It was elaborate. I slipped the pink dress into the dressing room along with the taupe ones and the navy blue ones. She will wear navy blue for special occasions … on occasion. You have to know, I just love her so! We’ve had a very long history together and I’m part of the family. I don’t take that lightly.
I said, “Should we try the easy ones on first or the hard ones?” I asked. We started with the taupe ones and were halfway through the blue ones when she glared at the pink dress in the corner. She eyed it. It eyed her back. I felt the tension between the two of them.
She said, “Let’s get rid of that one. I just don’t want that pink dress in the room anymore.” But she did agree to try it on first. Grand.
She looked at herself in the mirror … and kept looking. I let her have a long moment with the pink dress until Erin and I couldn’t hold back another second. “That looks so great on you!” we both said. She smiled. She wasn’t resisting. She wasn’t talking. She was quite possibly in shock.
I quickly found a wrap to cover her arms, just because she wanted to and it could be cold the evening of the garden party with the 100 guests. I changed the belt on the dress and gave her one in a metallic taupe. (She liked that.) Then she discovered the dress had pockets. “It’s got pockets!” she exclaimed. The dress was winning her over.
Honestly, if you knew this family like I know this family, you’d know that this story will be unearthed and retold a thousand times, the story about her buying a pink, PRINTED dress for one of the occasions that mattered the most.
So what is the moral of this image consulting story? Establish trust and then establish trust again. I kept reassuring her that we were just in an experiment of trying different things. We had plenty of time to get a dress before the wedding. This didn’t have to be our only stop or our only shopping trip.
And then because she didn’t rip the dress off in two seconds, which I would have expected her to do, I reassured her of all the reasons this dress was perfect. It’s cheerful, this is a happy moment. The event is in her beautiful garden and this dress with flowers on it fits right in. It fit her perfectly. Absolutely nothing had to be done to make it fit any better. I reassured her about all of those things.
And it had pockets! Her very favorite thing! Pockets! I regaled with her about the pockets.
It’s funny because I usually I can handle discomfort just fine. But this time, I nearly caved. I could feel the weight of her discomfort and I nearly gave in before the perfect moment showed up.
Thank goodness the dress intervened and said, “Try me, try me,” in barely a whisper and she heard it. When the dress speaks, we all listen!
Sorry the pictures are so bad. I pulled them off the internet. I’m sure I’ll have the real deal pictures after July 1st and maybe she’ll let me share some with you.
Isn’t it just glorious doing what we do?