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A Career as a Personal Stylist

by Nicola Fulstow

So what does being an Image Consultant, Personal Stylist and Personal Shopper really involve? In this article we have included some frequently asked questions about image consultancy as a career and how you can get in to personal shopping for a living.

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HOW DO I BECOME AN IMAGE CONSULTANT OR PERSONAL STYLIST?

Anyone can become an Image Consultant or Personal Stylist, however it can be a good idea to get some training and advice about how to do this for your full-time job or career. You may already have an eye for style, but this does not always make a great Personal Stylist! 

There are lots of courses about who offer training in image consultancy, however not all of them teach you how to run an image consultancy business, so ensure you ask about all the help and support you will receive after you have trained, as starting your own business isn't easy. 

If you have experience with personally styling your friends and family or have worked in fashion retail helping customers, it could be that you can work to build on your skills and client base without having any training. This can be a lengthily route as you build your knowledge, skills and experience and it is unlikely during this time, you will be able to rely on image consultancy as your primary source of income, however it is a valid route to this career. Training courses basically just try to help you by cutting out this long learning curve that could take years, by teaching you how to conduct such services and may mean that you start to earn money quicker. 


DO I NEED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE TFIC?

The short answer is NO. The long answer is The Federation of Image Consultants or TFIC is described as the professional body for image consultants that "develops and regulates the image industry in the uk." I have never been nor am a member of the TFIC and to this day it has never effected my business or clients. In fact, not one of my clients has ever asked about the TFIC or even heard of it.

To be a member of the TFIC will cost you a minimum of £140 based off the information on their website, however I am unsure of what value you receive for this fee? Many events that they offer are at an additional cost, the public liability insurance you receive can be easily provided by your own choice of insurer for less that £140, and I don't believe there is sufficient value in networking with other Image Consultants, as in reality, they are your competitors, not potential clients. A Code of Professional Practice and Ethics would be something that I would recommend all businesses have, no matter what they do, however it should be created for themselves and how they intend to run a good, ethical business. I can not think of a time or example when any client, whether private or corporate would be interested in seeing such a document.

The reason I chose not to be a member of the TFIC was that I did not believe it offered me personally and my business, any value for money and I also did not want to practice in colours as I felt my target audience needed something fresh, new and more practical than having their "colours done", and I also did not want to do make up on my clients, believing that I would much rather leave this to the experts at Mac or Bobbi Brown for example. 

Without the TFIC I have built an Image Consultancy and Personal Styling business, have many happy clients whom I have styled, decluttered their wardrobes, took them personal shopping and made a positive difference in their lives. Many of my clients are so happy with the personal styling services they have received they are happy to provide named testimonials on this website and refer us to their friends. 

If you on the other hand would like to practice colours and apply make up to your clients then I would suggest looking at the TFIC website for your local training provider as this is a good a place to start as any. If on the other hand you are more interested in fashion, body shapes, capsule wardrobes, price per wear, modern style advice and personal shopping, look at our Stylists Training Pages or look for other companies like us who train people to become personal stylists and shoppers. 

 

SHOULD I TRAIN TO DO COLOUR ANALYSIS?

Entirely on a personal note, colours was never something I wanted to offer to my clients, however I have met many people who have had their colours done and enjoyed it. I have found in the past though with many of my clients who had previously had their colours done, that they are left with a very bland and boring (albeit colourful!) wardrobe and have become dead set in what colours they can and can't wear - very limiting when you go shopping! My ethos is entirely different!

I want to be able to give my clients as much choice as possible when they shop, yet understand how to make most things work for them, just by altering what they wear it with or how they wear it.

 

WHAT DOES THE JOB ENTAIL?

Firstly the terms Image Consultant and Personal Stylist I think are personal preference. In essence we both do the same thing really.

The job involves key elements such as general style advice for people who are unsure what to wear; wardrobe consultations for people who want to get more wear out of what they have and personal shopping for those who want to update their wardrobe or buy something for a special occasion. However there is room to develop a variety of services from these skills such as wardrobe de-cluttering, swish parties and style parties at home for example.

 

WHAT HOURS DOES A PERSONAL STYLIST WORK?

This completely depends on how hard you want to work! Image Consultancy, Personal Styling and Personal Shopping can be a great part-time job for those who want to earn a bit of extra cash or a full time career, but be prepared to work hard for it!

ALL INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE S BASED ON INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT THE TIME OF WRITING SEPTEMBER 2009