I first heard of a professional image consultant when I watched in the movie “The Kid” more than a decade ago. Irony of ironies, Bruce Willis portrayed a crabby image consultant –someone you wouldn’t exactly like to seek advice from. While viewing the film, I thought to myself, “If he can be an image consultant, why can’t I be one?” I imagined that a credible image professional should walk the talk before venturing as an “image doctor” to others.
Actually, I’ve always had a penchant for fashion and style and enjoyed giving family and friends suggestions regarding their clothes, color combination, decorum and posture. After getting a degree in Fine Arts from UST, I mused about studying Fashion Design abroad—as there were no established fashion colleges here in the 80s—but due to the complexity of life, I ended up doing NGO work. Nonetheless, with flexibility in my work schedule, I decided to be a freelance image consultant. When I finished a course on personality development from John Robert Power, I mustered enough courage to give talks and seminars on fashion and image. Some of my first clients were Development Bank of the Philippines, C. L. Manabat and Co. (now Navarro Amper and Co.), Institute of Development Economic Analysis, University of Asia and the Pacific, Philippine Science High School and Woodrose School (my alma mater).
So far, my experience as an image consultant has been enriched by the lives I’ve touched through the trainings and learnings I’ve given and received. Being a member of the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) Philippine Chapter for the past 2 years has been most beneficial. AICI is a global association of image professionals with chapters in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. It is also the world’s certifying body for image professionals and has a rigorous three level certification process.
I got to know more about AICI in October 2011 when I bumped into Delby Bragais, a fantastic fashion designer and long time friend, in the Philippine Fashion Week. Delby enthusiastically invited me to join the AICI Philippine Chapter which she had just founded together with other seasoned image consultants like Karen Agustin Ostrea, Abbygale Arenas de Leon , Julia Robillos and Dina Loomis. I signed up as a member soon after, assured of the support of my colleagues in the industry and the continuous image education through conferences and forums. AICI espouses total image development which could be encapsulated as the ABCs of image –Appearance, Behavior and Communication. Last January, our chapter mounted its 1st international educational conference entitled “Reinvent Yourself for Business Success” at the Dusit Thani Hotel with an array of high level speakers like Christina Ong from Singapore, the first Certified Image Master (CIM) of AICI in Asia, and Ferial Youakim, a sought after image and color expert from Sydney, among others.
As I reminisce how I started and look forward to countless possibilities in the future, I can say that this profession is very challenging. An image consultant is not just another training vendor, but rather an expert on image development whose services include corporate branding, and training and coaching in etiquette, communication, grooming, corporate dressing, to name the least. Thus, when corporations, schools or other organizations see the need to build their image through honing the image development of their personnel, it would be timely to outsource the services of an image consultant.
For corporations, training seminars on corporate or professional image are aimed at changing mind-sets for the better. To project a professional image, compliance to company policies or a dress code is not enough. It is crucial for each stakeholder to imbibe the corporate values and polish inner beauty to project a professional and attractive image. Image enhancement is not simply a make-over; it is a blossoming of a better self.
It’s true some are born with good looks, a magnetic personality and exquisite taste. But through the assistance of an image consultant, all can learn and develop criteria and skills to improve their over-all image. Total image enhancement requires raising one’s standards of beauty, courtesy and propriety in keeping with one’s dignity. In fact, etiquette can be defined as “aesthetic behavior”, emanating from respect for oneself and others. Propriety and decency are reflections of dignity.
Apart from corporate training and services, I offer “image clinics” for individuals and groups. Through an image clinic, one can clarify all apprehensions about image and, in return, be equipped with skills and tools to project oneself with flair.
Whether one avails of corporate training or an individual coaching from an image consultant, at the end of the day, it is each one’s take and resolve to make an impact through image that matters. Conviction, confidence and consistency are vital to achieving a power image.