The time is right to become an image consultant
“It is a certified hot topic all over the world− people from all walks of life are trying to get the nearest image consultant to change the way they look and feel,” writes Emmanuel Anbuforo, in an article titled, “Choosing Your Image Consulting Training”.
In India the need for image consulting is looming large and people are realizing the need for projecting a positive image in order to have a better personal, professional, and social life. People have started realizing that from getting hired for a job or having a successful first meeting to the fate of your first date, it all depends on the first impression that a person creates and that is what image is all about. India being the youngest country in the world today and statistics saying that by 2020, the average age of India is going to be 29, the competition and the need to be one up is going to be more than ever before. More and more people will look for an image consultant to enhance their lives.
With this the demand for qualified image consultants will grow exponentially. This provides an excellent opportunity to take up image consulting as a career. This is a career which pays well and also creates a tremendous sense of achievement as one is able to make a positive difference in the lives of many people.
Benefits of a career in image management
Image consulting is reported on consumer trend lists and in business books as one of the fastest growing businesses in today’s service economy. So many people are not satisfied with their image and don’t know where to start to make improvements. People value their time as much as their money. They are willing to pay, for you to save them image anxiety, time, and effort. The sky is the limit.
Being an image consultant is fun and a fascinating work offering you incredible variety. You will never be bored as no two clients will ever be the same, and each one will provide you with new and challenging opportunities to learn and grow.
Being an image consultant, you have the privilege of helping others, of using your knowledge, skills, and creativity to improve and enhance their lives− in a multitude of little ways that bring a big return. What’s more, you will get to see the results of your work, make your vision a reality, and contribute to the overall greater good of the organizations your clients are associated with and of the society.
This business is all about people. You get to work with people on an individual and personalised level. You will be directly instrumental in their successes. Clients are particularly pleased when the people in their lives notice and complement them on their new image. As you will discover many of your clients become good friends−some for life.
Independence and Flexibility
If you decide to start your own image consulting business, you will enjoy the independence and flexibility of being your own boss. It’s your own business and you can work full-time or part-time. You set the goals. You can accept work ONLY when you want to, and also refuse to work with difficult people.
Operating a home based business is easy to set up and supports your independence and flexibility. You don’t have to travel any distance to work. If there are children at home, they see the effort that goes into a business and can learn, first hand, a positive work ethic. Older children can help with tasks such as copy work, sorting and mailing etc.
Potential to expand
You never have to become bored or get stagnated working in the image field. You can always expand on your work and your target market. If you crave personal and professional growth, this is a field that provides exactly that.
Industry survey in foreign countries lists image consulting incomes that range from $15,000 to $60,000 within the first three to five years of doing business. In India, with the huge population and the resulting demand, it can bring in a much higher earning potential. Added the fact that this is a new career in India the pioneers in this should be able to earn much more once they are established in their business as they will be the most senior consultants available. Some of the established image consultants abroad make over $100,000 a year. Again, it all depends on you, your passion, your preparation, and your perseverance.
No profession bring as much social respectability as that of teaching, coaching and mentoring. The image consulting profession is all about that. People will look at you with renewed respect and will often take your advice in trying to change their lives for the better.
You Can Start Now
Image consulting is a field that anyone with a talent or past exposure in dressing, grooming or understanding human behaviour can enter. People who have worked as cabin crew or hospitality professionals, counsellors, trainers or people having exposure to image related fields on account of their background and upbringing have a definite advantage in this field.
It is not that simple
Image Consulting- An art and a science
Emmanuel Anbuforo, in his article also says, “More and more image consultant-training centres, schools and curriculum have mushroomed over the years… and people who happen to have an interest in the craft, are having a hard time looking for the best place to learn the craft from.”
Judith Rasband, one of the senior most consultants in the field says, “Image consulting is not rightly defined as a “craft.” No, it’s not rocket science, it’s harder! Basket weaving is craft. We can be trained to follow through the process and we get paid for our product. Image consulting-better yet, image management consulting-is much more. Image management consulting requires an education. To play on the pun, image consulting ranks right up there with rocket science due to the variables involved and the need for reproducible patterns-and that’s all about math. It’s actually harder when you add the human element that the “hard sciences” like physics, chemistry, and anatomy don’t have to deal with. Image consulting can be described as a “soft science” due to historical, social, and psychological factors that mix with the physics and chemistry involved. It is an art form, to be sure, due to the elements and principles of visual design we rely on. Image consulting is therefore both an art and a science in the creation of products and services that we offer in our practice.” She further adds, “Image consulting is a career-a real career not to be taken lightly or entered blindly. We must enter the field with an open mind, with eyes, ears, and arms wide open, ready to receive and intending to internalize the concepts, strategies and systems essential for success in the field. Image consultants need to be better professionals than average. Average is not acceptable.”
Much more involved than personality development and grooming training
Many people, especially in India, think of Image Consulting in similar ways as the fast mushrooming plethora of trainers on personality development and grooming. Most of them, first of all, are far from desired in terms of providing an in depth value addition to the overall image management. There is a basic issue in these subjects which must be understood. Personality development and grooming are generally taken as two different subjects and usually a trainer in one of the subjects has no clue about the other. A personality development trainer deals with subjects like self image, attitude, and communication skills etc and a grooming trainer deals with make up primarily. Both of them are quite incomplete and it is therefore not surprising that most of the participants in any such training programs are as good or as bad at the end of the training as compared to when they started. Image is inside out.
The way you look or appear affects the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act or behave and then the way others react or respond to you. It is therefore essential to understand the complete psychological, behavioural as well as the physical aspects of image by one person in order to advice the clients in image management. These fields cannot be separated. Communication is divided in various parts including verbal, vocal, non verbal, and visual. Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in 1950’s found that the total impact of a message is about 7 % verbal (words only) and 38 % vocal (including tone of voice, inflection and other sounds) and 55 % non verbal. Once we realize this then it is easy to see that it is not possible to deal with communication only at verbal level by one trainer and leave it to the other for the other aspects of communication. In terms of visual and non verbal communication, almost all of it has to do with wardrobe, body language, and etiquettes, subjects most of the grooming trainers have no clue about. In fact there is hardly anyone who has enough knowledge on wardrobe which is one of the most important factors of overall image management combined with grooming and other elements of non verbal and visual communication. It is therefore dangerous for the clients to go to an image consultant who thinks of himself or herself as a personality development and/or grooming trainer. God help such clients. In fact, it is sad to mention that many of the so called personality development and grooming trainers are themselves not aware of their own image that they project and they often look shabby themselves.
In my opinion, if one claims to be a trainer of any sort, one must at least look the part to inspire confidence in the clients that they deal with. Image management is personality development and grooming combined and far more. As described in the earlier paragraph, it ranks right up there with rocket science. Yes, these trainers do need intensive education and training in image management in order to become image consultants and there they do have an advantage as they have some exposure and knowledge about some of the elements of image management.
Need therefore to have the right educator, trainer, and mentor
To become an image consultant one needs education. I read somewhere that “LUCK” can basically be described as “Learning Under Correct Knowledge.” It is essential to get educated and trained under correct knowledge to make it a success in this industry. And it does not stop there. To be a success in this industry it requires a mentor; someone to guide you and support you as you start in this industry, someone you can go to for help and advice, someone you can count on. It is important to look at the following in order to get a jump start in the industry.
- Experience and exposure of the educator and mentor
- Passion in the field
- Strength of the curriculum and material
- After education and training support and handholding
The author, Suman Agarwal, is the senior-most Image Consultant in the Indian Sub-continent and director of Image Consulting Business Institute. Image Consulting Business Institute is a pioneer in India and one of the biggest brands in the world in Image Management and Soft Skills Training Space. It offers programs for people to become Image Consultants and Soft Skills Trainers and at the same time offers Image Management and Soft Skills Training services to individuals and companies.