What is image consulting? What do image consultants do? What salary can you expect? Is it the right career option for you?
Pratima Vallur managed a career change from technology to image consulting. She describes how she did it. And also covers many basic aspects related to image consultant careers.
Image Consulting Careers in India
By Pratima Vallur
I am a Graduate in the field of Computer Science. I completed my graduation from Vasavi College of Engineering. I then joined Deloitte as a Campus Recruit.
I worked as a Business Technology Analyst with Deloitte for a span of 3 years. My campus to corporate transition, learning and experience at Deloitte is something I would always cherish.
Later I moved into the field of Image consulting. I am a Certified image consultant by Conselle Institute of Image Management, USA and Certified Soft skill trainer by NABET and SQA. I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives by consciously altering their image for success.
I chose Engineering for two reasons, one – it was one of the most sought after fields and two – as a kid I always fancied working in a MNC as a Software Engineer. I have to mention that my parents were always supportive of any field I choose, my mom even urged me to think about unconventional career options.
But Alas! I chose Engineering because, all my friends were taking up Engineering as well. Typical 18-year-old.
I didn’t have any long term career plans during my engineering. I just wanted to get placed in a reputed organization and see where life takes me from there.
How I became an Image Consultant
Immediately after I started working at Deloitte, though I loved the company culture and people around I was never satisfied with the work I did. After some self-exploration, I realized I am not a Techie person with love for technology and coding.
Though I was reasonably good at it, I didn’t have the enthusiasm to learn and explore.
I started investing my time in different things like writing, hosting in company events to understand the kind of work that would give me satisfaction. I have always been a people’s person. I loved interacting with people and knowing their stories.
My friends always found it to be easy to share their life stories with me. I also had a deep sense of love for elegant dressing and a poised demeanor. During the phase of self-exploration, I came across an article about Image Consulting. It looked like an amalgamation of all the things I love to do and I immediately decided to know about it further.
After understanding about image consulting further, I instantly and intuitively felt this is where I want to be.
I took the leap of faith, quit my job and joined an Image Consulting Certification course. It has been almost a year since I started pursuing this.
I had experienced my fair share of ups and downs but it has been an amazing journey so far and I am certain better things would come my way in future.
What do image consultants do
Image consultants transform lives. We work on making the clients beautiful inside out. We help people look better and become successful. We help them appear, behave and communicate effectively and beautifully. When a client first consults us, we understand their roles and goals and their pain points with the help of one on one interactions and also assessments and psychometric tests. Based on the results we create a plan and work with them to bring in a sustainable transformation and make them look and feel beautiful inside out.
There is often a misconception about what image consultants do. A lot of people ask me, ‘Are you a fashion designer?’. No. To explain the difference in a simple language – Fashion designer designs a garment.
An image consultant chooses the garment that suits best for the color, personality, body shape, roles and goals of the clients from all the garments designed by the fashion designer to help the clients look their most attractive self.
Image consultant also coaches you on behavior and communication aspects which help you reach your goals.
As an example, I was called upon for an urgent requirement where I had to coach 20 graduates and make them job ready. They had an interview lined up with a top MNC in next 7 days. The main challenge was that these students were from a lower strata of the society and hence were not very poised and skilled and had a problem in communicating well in English.
In order to be effective communicators I helped them understand how to use body language and voice to their advantage. I also helped them think from the perspective of an interviewer and answer questions accordingly. The role plays and activities I conducted helped improve their English and thereby their confidence tremendously.
Constructive feedback provided each day helped them work upon the exact areas of improvement. Today, I am proud to share with you that 80% of them got placed and the satisfaction and happiness I felt that day is inexplicable.
The scariest part of my career was when I just completed my certification. For about a month or two there was no work coming my way. For the first time in my life I wasn’t sure of what my next month is going to look like or where my first client is going to come from.
Having had a life which was pretty much sketched – school – engineering – campus placement – job – to suddenly not being certain of anything made me go crazy.
But if I look back I see that, that was the phase where my learning curve was at a peak. I met a lot of new people, did a lot of research, started becoming active on social media, and things slowly started falling in place and I got amazing opportunities thereafter for which I am very grateful.
Career advice on image consulting careers
Because the field of image consulting is relatively new and not many people are aware of it, it is very important to get out there and tell people who we are and what we do.
Certainly there are many people who need assistance in the areas of appearance, behavior and communication especially in this age where branding has become very important.
But they are not aware of people who can help them. And that is why it is important to be active and tell people about your presence
Why are image consultant careers in demand?
You are your visual Resume. Like I already mentioned in this day and age every person is a brand for themselves. In interviews / client consultations / investment meetings we don’t get more than 10sec to make a favorable impression.
We subconsciously judge people on factors like personality, authority, intelligence in the first 7 secs we see them. The first thing we notice about a person is dressing and presence.
We image consultants help people create that aura around themselves to create a powerful impact.
90% of India is in need of Image Management and Soft Skills for personal and professional success, making professionals in this domain very sought-after.
Eligibility to become an image consultant
Success as an image consultant is independent of academic discipline, age and work experience.
No standard education requirements exist for image consultants, but training programs are available in the field which cover the aspects of fashion, behavior and communication.
Anyone who has the inner calling to change people’s lives, has a great sense of style, is warm and empathetic and open to taking up challenges and leading others can become an Image Consultant.
Career Paths for image consultants
There is plethora of options an Image consultant can explore and that is the beauty of this career. If someone is interested in movie industry and working with celebrities, they can become a celebrity stylist. We often joke about a women’s love for shopping. What’s better than changing that into a career?
An image consultant also provides personal shopping and wardrobe evaluation services. If you are someone like me who is interested in public speaking and sharing your knowledge with others, you have immense opportunities of taking up Image management training sessions in leading corporates and educational institutions.
Image consultants also work with clients on a one-to-one basis to provide them solutions on Color analysis, Body shape evaluation, Looking the part etc. to name a few.
A large portion of these consultants are self-employed. Prospective image consultants may first gain experience working with a public relations or fashion marketing firm to understand how image affects the overall branding of a client. These opportunities can also help consultants learn about targeted audiences and how companies and people project a certain image.
They may also start their careers by working as part-time consultants until they can create a portfolio and build their clientele.
Groups such as the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) and IMPA (Image Management Professionals Association) offer networking, continuing education and certification opportunities to their members. Image consultants who join these types of organizations may be able to further their careers.
Salary ranges for image consultants
Image consultants will be paid based on the assignments. Consultants who are in the initial stages of their career charge anywhere around INR 7,500 – 15,000 per one-day Intervention.
Senior consultants charge INR 25,000-50,000 per Intervention or more based on the complexity of the assignment.
The best part of being an image consultant is that the work never gets stagnant. Each client is different, each client has different problems and hence we always have to think on our feet creatively and provide new solutions.
The downside is that, as not everyone in India is aware and encouraging of it, often come across people who pass comments like, “why are you giving so much importance to outward appearance?”
It is very important to change this outlook. It is not about outward appearance that we are talking about but rather the way we are projecting ourselves, and the kind of image and brand we are creating for ourselves.
Is image consulting the right career for you?
The top most skill or quality I would say is the intent to help others. Only when we are very passionate about helping people with our work will we be able to provide the best solutions to our clients. That is the only way our business is going to grow and we are going to prosper in turn.
Someone with lots of creativity, who loves interacting with people, who has a strong sense of style, understands clothes, is interested in human behavior, is warm and empathetic and also has a strong desire to be an entrepreneur is perfectly suitable for this job.
I would say doing a lot of research, understanding yourself better and judging if the field is suitable for you or not is very important. Because it is going an entrepreneurial journey, initial few days are going to be rough and you should be ready to be 100% committed towards work.
Perseverance is very important. Because there is a dearth of image consultants in India and it is a booming industry now, once you have established a name for yourself, slowly and steadily lot of work will come your way and there is no looking back from there.