When I saw the announcement that the AICI Chicago Chapter was having a special October weekend that included meeting and speaking with Maria Pinto at her new boutique called M2057, plus going to the opening of the exhibition at the Chicago History Museum called Making Mainboucher: the First American Couturier, I knew I had to make plane reservations and head east.
The program interested me, of course: Maria Pinto has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey and is currently involved in a very innovative way of selling clothes to women. And Mainboucher is the most influential American Couturier that no one knows about. I was plenty intrigued.
But being with colleagues for the weekend was even more irresistible. Leaving husbands, children, and work behind, there’s nothing like being solely in the company of people who love what you love, do what you do (or at least in a related way), appreciate the subjects of fashion and style, and don’t have to explain their passion to anybody: everybody gets it!
We shared many meals this weekend, enjoyed the lecture about Mainboucher, were inspired by Maria Pinto, went shopping together, and went to Second City to hear improv together. We shared our own personal stories with one another, learning how we were inspired to become image consultants. We talked a lot about change and how we’re evolving in our businesses.
AND, we were together in Chicago the night the Cubs won their way to a seat at the World Series. Epic!
I was on the phone from my hotel room one night talking to my sweetie back home in Sonoma. I was sharing how much I was cherishing my time with my buddies. He said, “I think I can relate to that feeling.”
Russ was a bike rider (both mountain bikes and road bikes) for years before I met him. In those years he hooked up with others who enjoyed the sport like he did. He didn’t start out knowing everyone, but that changed. When plans came up to go together on bike tours–either in the United States, France or Italy–he said yes.
On these getaways, they’d ride together, lodge together, and eat meals together. While they came together over their love of the sport of cycling, they stayed together for years and years because of the deep friendships that were formed.
Image consultants have their own language
I know what it’s like to be around people who have a shared interest when it’s not yours. When Russ and I were dating, he’d invite me to come and join his biking friends at their potluck gatherings.
It’s hard to appreciate the thrills and chills of cycling when you weren’t there. I couldn’t relate!
But it’s exactly what it’s like with my image consulting buddies. We have our own language. People may look at us funny when we’re in a cluster talking about something very relevant to us, but we’d probably not even notice them. We share similar DNA.
Appreciating my colleagues and friends
I just got back late last night. You couldn’t possibly wipe the smile off my face. The joy of being with like-minded friends is pretty immeasurable. After a weekend like this, I think we all went home feeling like we were a lot more than professionals; we’re friends. We’ve got each other’s back.
It’s these kind of deepening relationships that strengthen our industry. When we support each other and care for each other, we get stronger together. Being entrepreneurs and so spread out, it can be lonely in this business and often is. If it’s too lonely, if we don’t have people to talk to, we could give up.
That would be tragic.
My advice to anyone new in the business–or veterans like the pals in these photos–is to make connections and friendships with like-minded people. They’re fun to have in the good times and essential to have in the shaky times.
Haven’t met anybody lately? See if you can reach out and make friends through Facebook, Instagram, or wherever image consultants can be found. You deserve it!