As an image consultant, you'll give clients--men as well as women--beauty makeovers to help them land better jobs, find a mate, shine at their weddings or just feel better about themselves. You'll coach them on the right wardrobe style for the image they want to project and even weed out closets or go on shopping expeditions. You'll also give hair and makeup advice, color-consulting, and instructions for self-confidence. You can also work with corporate clients by recommending new employee uniform styles, or by teaching multicultural etiquette or body-language basics for better sales and customer relations. Or you can work with clients facing the media spotlight to help them look and act their best. The advantages to the image consulting business are that you can work at home, you can start part time with low costs, and it's creative and satisfying--when you help someone achieve a better job or media success or just feel good about themselves, it can be heady stuff. As an image consultant, you'll need an innate sense of style and up-to-the-second knowledge of fashion, hair and makeup trends--and how to apply that makeup--in personal and corporate settings. You'll also want to know the latest trends and conventions in big- and small-business conduct. Since you're dealing with people on one of the most personal levels, you'll need the ability to point out negative traits and suggest changes without hurting their feelings. And last but definitely not least, you'll have to be a walking advertisement of your own advice. This is a practice-what-you-preach business--you'll have to look polished, professional and dressed for success on all public occasions.
Your clients can be individuals who want to look sharp for a big social occasion, are looking for a new or better job, or have decided it's time to turn over a whole new leaf. Your clients can also be corporations who may hire you to train groups of executives or employees or to give the company dress code a facelift. Place ads in local publications and offer coupons in direct-mail coupon books. Network in professional and civic organizations. Introduce yourself to wedding consultants, caterers and event planners, who can refer you to their clients. Give workshops and seminars for private and corporate clients. You should also target public relations agents who may refer their clients to you. Send PR people your brochure, then follow up with a phone call to cement your service in their minds.
All you really need to get started are mirrors, makeup, color swatches, and fashion books and magazines. You may want to purchase, either during startup or after your business gets going, computer software that gives your clients a virtual beauty makeover before they take the actual hair-cutting plunge. If you plan on going the corporate route, you may also want to invest in a video camera and VCR so clients can judge their before-and-after speech and body language performances. In some states, you need a cosmetology license to work on clients' skin, so if you plan to offer makeup services be sure to check with your state board of cosmetology. If you can't apply makeup to your clients yourself, you can supervise while they do their own.