Although the image consulting industry first started in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in recent years the demand for quality image consultants has risen to a new high as new markets have emerged. The definition of image consulting has broadened beyond beauty and fashion makeovers to include behavior, civility and etiquette, body language, interview skills, presentation and personal branding. Image consulting is now a booming industry, with over 1,300 members in 22 chapters around the world belonging to the Association of Image Consultants International.
Christie Ressel, a Toronto-based international image consultant and personal style coach, strives to make women feel fabulous and strong every day. According to Ressel, a 28-year-old entrepreneur, “Everyone deserves a ‘Cinderella Moment’—creating a fashionable and authentic style should be fun!”
After losing her mother to cancer, Ressel decided to channel her grief by empowering herself and others to feel chic and confident. She started Personal Power Image Consulting in 2008 to help women dress for success every day. Personal Power Image Consulting offers personal, online, social and corporate services, all with a single goal in mind: to give the every-woman a look she can confidently rock every day.
Dressing for success is an important key to entrepreneurial and professional success, and Ressel’s consulting services help business women to appropriately dress for the job they have, or want to have. “No matter what your career is; you are your business card,” Ressel says. “How you present yourself says something about who you are. It affects your credibility.”
In addition to image consulting, Ressel is also a freelance writer for over twelve publications, the senior editor of style and beauty for ChicGalleria.com, a public speaker and an instructor at George Brown College in Toronto.
Company: Personal Power Image Consulting
Founder/Age: Christie Ressel, 28
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Start-Up Year: 2008
Start-Up Costs: Not Disclosed
How I Got Started: I got my website up first, as that’s where everyone [initially] goes to check you out. Next, I began giving away complimentary services to family and friends in the hope that they would refer me to others. I also offered complimentary workshops and went to many networking and industry events. I spoke to as many publications as I could, asking to write for them for free—I figured, “Hey, their readers will get some great information, the publication gets some great content, and I get free advertising!” It’s proven to be a fabulous tool for me. I love writing and connecting with people—it didn’t do anything initially, but you slowly build a relationship with your readers, and they put trust in what you have to say. And when I ask clients how they’ve found me, they reply with, “You’re everywhere!” It’s nice to hear.
Best Customer Interaction: A working mom who was really down about how she looked and felt about herself contacted me. It was affecting her career, esteem and home life. She said she was at the point where she didn’t really care about anything anymore. So we worked together and I educated her on how to dress for her body type, her personality, fashion and lifestyle. We purged her closet and then went shopping together. She looked fabulous! I mean, she was really glowing. To top it all off, we did a photo shoot with her to celebrate her fabulousness! She was like a new woman. She said she’d never been happier – her relationship with her husband [improved], she was enjoying things more, felt more confident and the revenue in her business increased as a result. I was so excited for her! We still keep in touch and she’s referred many people to me as a result, which is a huge compliment. It’s nice to know people trust you and wish for others to have the same experience they did.
Biggest Start-up Challenge: Being overwhelmed on where to start! I found that what worked for me was to write a vision and add a sentence to it each day to keep me focused. From there, it’s about focusing your energy on one task at a time to ensure the best quality and outcome. I was also frustrated because I wanted everything to happen, “right away”—clients, tasks, etc., but I’ve learned that things take time and it’s much more fun to relax and enjoy the creative process!
#1 Tip for Newbies: Get yourself out there! You need to get in front of people and build relationships. Networking events only work if you are consistent with them and take a genuine interest in the business of others also—it’s a two way street. People will only refer those that they know and trust. This [takes] time, but once you build that foundation it’s one that will last. Your clients are no different—offer a service that makes people rave about what you do.
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