Image Consultant

The Job and What's Involved

Image consultants help their clients to make the best of their own personal style and image. They explain, in detail, the colours and styles that will suit the individual's personal colouring (in terms of hair, eyes and skin tone) and body shape. They also offer services such as wardrobe planning, personal shopping and advice on make-up.

Most image consultants work with private clients. Typically, clients come to an image consultant because they recognise the importance of their personal image at a key moment in their lives. This could be related to career, personal life or a one-off special occasion, like a wedding. Clients come from a range of different backgrounds. Increasing numbers of men use image consultants. Some clients are well-known figures from public life.

A one-to-one session with a private client, covering style and colour analysis, takes about three hours. The image consultant explains which colours are most flattering to the client and demonstrates how to use them. The consultant also helps the client to identify the styles, fabrics and patterns that flatter the body line, face shape and proportions.

Other one-to-one services, like personal shopping and wardrobe planning, take as long as the client wishes. Some clients book these services two or three times a year.

Some image consultants work with groups, offering make-up demonstrations or 'colour parties'. This can be a way of promoting the business.

Image consultants also work with corporate clients. Projects might include working with employees to make sure the company brand is reflected through the way staff present themselves, developing a new uniform, setting up or modifying a dress code, or providing personal branding coaching to senior executives.

Image consultants may run workshops or seminars for companies on subjects such as:

- The importance of first impressions
- The importance of image in the workplace
- Business etiquette
- Body language
- What to wear and what not to wear
- Corporate hospitality
- Speaking at conferences

In addition to working directly with clients, image consultants spend time on administration, professional development, marketing and public relations. Some consultants write articles for magazines and newspapers, as a way of promoting their businesses.

Hours vary, but can involve early starts, evenings and weekend work. Some consultants work part time, especially when starting out.

Most image consultants are self-employed. They can choose whether to work from home or from a studio. They may travel to clients' homes to provide services such as wardrobe planning.

Work with private clients tends to be within the local area, although consultants are free to choose where they offer their services. Corporate work normally involves travelling to the company's premises.

Image consultants would probably wear a suit for meeting corporate clients but smart casual wear when working with private clients.

A driving licence is useful, although it is possible to work from home without one.

Initial earnings, whilst establishing a business, may be around £10,000 to £15,000. With greater experience and regular bookings, image consultants may earn up to £30,000.

Image consultants with an established reputation and corporate clients may earn £40,000 or more.

Most image consultants are self-employed and income depends on each consultant's qualifications, skills, knowledge and marketing ability, as well as the area they work in. Consultants set their own scale of fees, which can be between £45 and £100 or more an hour for those with training and extensive experience.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Image consultants are normally self-employed. Some set up their own independent businesses. Others work under the umbrella of a large organisation like Colour Me Beautiful or First Impressions, where they are self-employed but receive business support from the parent organisation.

There are more than 300 members of The Federation of Image Consultants (TFIC), but consultants do not necessarily have to join a professional organisation. Competition for work is keen.

There is a greater concentration of image consultants in the south of England, but it is possible to establish a business anywhere in the country.

Networking and personal recommendation are often the best way of finding clients and building a business. For most entrants, image consulting is a second career after working in fields such as health and beauty, fashion retailing, human resources or training and personal development.

Image consultants usually start by working with private clients and progress to corporate work once they have gained experience.

Education and Training

There are no set entry qualifications. Some entrants may have a vocational qualification such as an NVQ, a BTEC Diploma, a Higher National Diploma/Certificate (HND/HNC), a foundation degree or a degree. Useful subjects include business studies, beauty therapy, cosmetic science, sales and marketing.

Qualifications that can be a starting point include:

Levels 1, 2 and 3 Awards/Certificates in retail knowledge

City & Guilds Levels 2 and 3 Diploma in beauty consultancy

BTEC Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in retail beauty consultancy

The Diploma in hair and beauty studies may also be relevant for this area of work.

The usual route is to take a course in image consultancy, covering the four main skills:

- Colour analysis
- Style for women
- Style for men
- Cosmetic application

The TFIC recommends courses on its website. Courses generally last two to three weeks full time, but because they are mostly available in the form of modules lasting one to four days, can be taken part time over a longer period.

Many private companies offer courses, which vary in price. It is important to check the syllabus to make sure it covers the main elements listed above.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Consultants can work towards the TFIC Masters Award (in partnership with City & Guilds).

The Federation also runs professional development programme's for members. These include advanced skills workshops and business management training.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Image consultants should be:

  • Knowledgeable about fashion, with a good sense for colour.
  • Excellent communicators, able to relate to all types of client.
  • Approachable, cheerful, encouraging and tactful.
  • Imaginative, with an eye for detail.
  • Self-assured and able to inspire confidence.
  • Flexible.
  • Good presenters who enjoy speaking to an audience.
  • Confident working with budgets.
  • Self-motivated and able to work on their own.
  • Commercially aware.

Your Long Term Prospects

As consultants are self-employed, advancement usually involves developing the business, for instance by breaking into the corporate market. Some consultants develop their role by specialising, for instance in bridal work, or dealing with male clients.

Some combine image consulting with related work, such as coaching, retailing or hairdressing.

It is possible to work abroad.

Get Further Information

Image Consultant Training
Tel: 0844 500 1018

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