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Image Consultant

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

THE BRIEF:

As an image consultant, you'll give clients makeovers, 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 likely give hair and makeup advice, instructions on effective body language and tips for self-confidence. You can snag corporate clients by teaching tactics for better sales and customer relations, or you can work with clients facing media spotlight to help them look and act their best. Some advantages to this business: You can work at home, you can start part-time with low costs, and it's often creative and satisfying -- whether you’re helping someone advance in their career or feel good about themselves in their personal life. 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 (and if you can't apply makeup to your clients yourself, you can supervise while they do their own). As an image consultant, you'll need an innate sense of style and up-to-the-second knowledge of fashion, hair and makeup trends in both personal and professional settings. You'll also want to know the latest conventions in big- and small-business conduct. Your clients may feel vulnerable in coming to you, so you'll need the ability to suggest changes in a kind, empathetic way. Last but not least, this is a practice-what-you-preach business -- you'll have to look polished, professional and dressed for success on all public occasions.

ASK THE PROS:

How much money can you make?

Nationwide, the average salary for an image consultant is $42,431 per year, according to Glassdoor.

What kind of experience do you need to have?

“First of all, you need to have a background in fashion or a related field, but more importantly, you need to gain experience dealing with people on the retail side of business. Image consultants do need to understand fashion, trends and clothing, but the reality of the business is dealing with people -- their fears, flaws and emotions. Some of the greatest fashion icons could never be an image consultant because they do not have the ability to deal with people on a personal level. Image consulting is direct and raw. Clients need to hear the harsh truth about themselves in order to course-correct. Aside from a relative degree, people skills is the most important experience someone would need to enter the field.” -Amanda Sanders, image consultant and personal shopper

What’s the most important thing to know about this business?

“Any time I'm in a rut or needing new perspectives or something like that, styling is definitely one of my go-tos. I also ask myself, ‘What is the problem that you're trying to solve?’ A lot of times as we think about creating solutions, we think about, ‘What do we have right now, and how can we make it better?’ I think a better question is just wiping the slate clean and saying… ‘In an ideal world, if we could rewrite everything, what would we do?’” -Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix

The Market

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.

Needed Equipment

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.

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