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Wed 1st Jun 2011

Career as an Image Consultant

Since starting the My Style Companion Training Academy for women who want to start their own businesses as Personal Stylists, Image Consultants, Personal Shoppers and Style Advisors I have been alarmed by the number of people who are willing to start their business in this area of expertise with no training or experience (i.e. no expertise). Some women think that all you need to start a business as a Personal Stylist is an eye for style, but if it was that easy surely every stylish woman would be doing it.

The reality of this is that it is unrealistic and unreasonable to ask anyone to pay you for your expertise when you know as much as every other woman who shops on the high-street and reads Grazia. Most women understand and know which trends to look out for, many women are good at helping friends to pick out new outfits and a lot of women know how to dress with serious style and edge but this does not mean that they can all run successful businesses as a Personal Shopper or Style Advisor otherwise they would probably all be doing it!

There are two routes in my opinion to starting your own business as a Personal Stylist. The first is to gain experience shadowing someone who does a similar role and then practising for free to build up your knowledge base and skill level to enable you to style anyone anywhere with whatever you have to hand. This route is very effective but obviously can take a long time and very often you will have to work for free. The second quicker way, which can sometimes be more thorough, is through training courses in personal styling, image consultancy and personal shopping where you can learn from people already running successful businesses. The key is to look for courses that offer not only the skills and knowledge you will require in order to service clients through wardrobe consultations and personal shopping but also, how and where to get clients in the first place, how to set up your business, how to manage it, how to define, develop and promote your brand and the best methods to make a profit. Without all this information you will most likely be floundering about for months (and even years in cases I have come across) without any clear direction or real clue about how you should proceed.

I have spoken to a number of women who want all the knowledge and skills to become an Image Consultant, Personal Stylist or Personal Shopper but at the same time, dont want to use up their holidays from work taking the course as they would rather go away on holiday this year; dont want to leave their families for any longer than one day or are unwilling to invest any money in their own self development as they think they know pretty much all there is to know about fashion and style how much can there be to learn anyway and surely it isnt worth hundreds and thousands? That is the first hurdle that people fall at.

At the end of the day, successful Personal Stylists and Shoppers have worked for years and at their own personal expense to learn what works when it comes to styling, shopping and running a business and this is essentially what you are paying for when you take any course somebody elses expertise and experience. This is the quickest way for you to indirectly gain and take advantage of somebody elses hard work and years of toil and turn it into sales and profit for yourself. The prices of most courses in reality are relatively little when you consider that you are getting all this expertise, plus your own freedom, flexibility and fulfilment from your new career thanks to the people who trained and coached you.

The fact of the matter is, if you are not willing to invest some money and all of your spare time in to making ANY business a success, it will never get off the ground. This doesnt bode well for people who are in the early stages of thinking about starting up and already arent willing to make the necessary sacrifices to even acquire the knowledge, information and skills it will take to allow them to call themselves an expert in this field, and therefore charge anywhere from £20 per hour for their opinions and advice.

I have known stylists and shoppers come and go because they thought they knew it all before they started their business; who ended up disappointed and confused when they still hadnt got a client after 6 or even 12 months. Worst still, when they finally did get a client, they realised they had no idea how to go about conducting a wardrobe consultation or personal shop so didnt do a great job - and bad word of mouth! All this just leads to feelings of defeat and a serious lack of motivation and many end up throwing in the towel before the first year is out. I cant stress enough that starting your own business does require serious consideration, but it can be the most rewarding thing you ever do if you are willing to put the time and effort in, and obviously there will need to be some level of financial investment along the way too.

Personal Styling and Shopping is a great full or part time business for women who want the end result to be flexible working hours, good pay and fulfilling work that puts a smile on your face but there has to be some sacrifices made in the early stages to get you to this point i.e. invest the time and money in to giving yourself the best head start in your new career. After all if you decided you wanted to be a counsellor, life coach, accountant, bookkeeper, marketing and PR consultant or public speaker for your new career it is unlikely you would think you could just get up tomorrow and do it there would need to be some new information acquired and digested, some experience and practical examples gained and a boost in confidence as you would no doubt be completely out of your comfort zone. Well these are all small elements that make up running a business as an Image Consultant or Personal Shopper in addition to the actual methods of conducting a wardrobe consultation or personal shop so it makes sense that there will be lots of information you will need before embarking on an exciting new career.

Lastly training in personal styling and personal shopping gives you confidence in your new career and ability this is something that will make or break your business. If you dont feel entirely confident in your new business and skills, then it is highly unlikely other people will buy in to what you are trying to sell. Training leads to confidence which in turn leads to the confidence of your target audience which then leads to sales. Without absolute conviction and self-belief in what you are doing when working through a clients wardrobe, you could never expect a client to believe in you.