Image consultants, sometimes called style coaches or personal stylists, work with models, actors, politicians, business executives and anyone for whom image is vital to success. They advise their clients on how to pull it all together to project a desired image. This may include advice and direction on hair, clothing, makeup, accessories, walking and overall style.
If you’re going to actually cut hair or apply makeup and other skin care options to clients, then you need to graduate from a state-approved cosmetology school and earn a state license. But you don’t need a license or a degree to give advice. Image consultants rely on specialty school and industry associations for training and certification. During training, you learn about the psychology and social implications of image; the artistic aspects of hair and clothing, and how to track style trends; differences between working with groups and individuals; and how to market your services. The Association of Image Consultants International offers three levels of certification, each based on extensive online coursework and a final exam. The credentials boost your credibility and ability to attract clients.
Start in a Peripheral Field
Image consultants often are self-employed, so they must develop expertise in management and budgeting. They also must take steps to build a clientele. Image consultants may start out as cosmetologists, recommending hair styles, color choices and makeup. Extend the services you provide to include personal shopping with color and style suggestions, poise and etiquette instruction, and personal coaching to build confidence. Some image consultants start out working at a clothing store or boutique, and gradually expand the services they offer clients.
Find a Mentor
While you’re starting out and building your credibility and your portfolio of clients, work with an experienced, successful image consultant as an employee or intern. Successful image consultants rely on a host of helpers to serve their sometimes demanding clientele. Meet a mentor through a local chapter of the Association of Image Consultants International, attend conferences and workshops, and take continuing education courses through organizations such as the World Association of Image Consultants.
Build a Small Business
As a small business owner, you must grow your business through referrals from clients who appreciate your work. You may develop a niche market, such as politicians, and find you have more referrals within the industry than you imagined. Work with modeling agencies, artists’ agents, boutique owners and photographers to provide services to their clients. Hold seminars and workshops targeting fashion trends, color mixing or job interviewing. Charge a minimal fee for the workshops, or give them for free to lure new clients.
2016 Salary Information for Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists
Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists earned a median annual salary of $24,380 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,610, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $34,400, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 673,700 people were employed in the U.S. as barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists.