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The Top Results – Why Our Grads Love Our Certification Programs

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  1. Real time interaction with instructors during business hours. “I could chat with my instructor whenever I needed and never felt like I was alone”

  2. Can engage with other image consultant/ learners during training and afterward in their AICI membership benefits and chapter membership. “I loved reading the posts in the discussion forum and if I had a comment or needed advice I could ask and get great feedback”

  3. Access to many free resources, articles, case studies, expert white papers, textbooks and discounted courses. “The notes sections and the textbooks online were invaluable to me while I was training”

  4. Professionally developed and designed e-Learning courses in the latest SCORM and graphic interface technology. “The course was so up to date and even included the latest fashion trend reports and industry news (free fashion news) feeds etc.”

  5. The instructors are experts in the content and are working consultants. “I loved hearing their stories and challenges. It made the profession real to me and the training more so.”

  6. Access to free membership with AICI and its many member benefits including additional webinars, conferences, chapter events etc. to strengthen a consultant’s business knowledge. “Thank you for generously giving me a free membership to my first year with AICI. I joined the ___Chapter and am excited to begin meeting other image consultants!”

  7. Course accessibility – open and online 24/7/365 and uses the latest technology that can run on all devices across all browsers.

  8. Access to image, fashion and style industry experts – not just image consultants but scholars from FIT, FIDM, and other college level instructors via educational partnerships.

  9. Bonus business start-up course is “priceless” say many students and rev up the consultant to open their business even while in class.

  10. The graduate directory is another priceless asset given free of charge to students. Grads get their own web page (and URL) that includes their achievements, certifications, digital badges, contact info and customer reviews.

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I Want To Be A Fashion Stylist What EDUCATION Do I Need?

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There are many fashion, art, design, photography and film schools ready to enroll students who show an interest in learning skills to launch careers.  Choosing which one to attend can be a daunting experience.  There are many factors involved when you set out to choose a school.  We cannot possibly cover the broad range of options available to future stylists here, BUT we can give you a few pointers to help you on your way.

First, narrow down your interests.  Think about your passions and analyze the direction they have taken you.  Ask yourself questions about the jobs you have had in the past and the experiences that have come your way – what did you like or not like?  What did you like enough to want to pursue further?

Keep in mind that formal education is not a requirement for a successful fashion styling career.  Work experience, contacts, good taste and a practiced “eye” are the most important talents you need to succeed.  Combine these assets with the previously mentioned enthusiasm and reliability and the fashion world is your oyster.

To learn the basics about fashion, color and image, I would recommend taking small courses to round out specific experience or knowledge you are lacking.  Many image consultants offer courses in these subjects.  You can get a complete listing of Fashion Styling and Image Consulting courses on line at www.aici.org.  This site is for the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), a global organization that upholds gold-standard certifications for Image and Style professionals.

You will also want to do a fair amount of “self-education” by studying the latest fashion magazines and periodicals to educate yourself on recent style movements, current trends, updates on designers and more.  The more you know about up to the minute trends in design and style, the more inventive you can be.  You can use this information for the creative components of your projects.

STYLIST TIP
Be plugged in. As a stylist, you influence trends and create new, exciting looks for fashion followers so, be plugged in to current events happening around you. Know who the hot new bands are, the latest eatery to open or who is dating whom for example. All these cultural threads can lead back to the work you do to create an exciting vision for the client.
— Gillian Armour, Master Fashion Stylist

Student Questions

editors note: this month we are posting our top ten MOST ASKED questions students list when they are in our Image Business Start Up course.

Why would you create a business plan?

It took me the first two years of blindly managing my business before I realized the power of having a plan on paper.  Once I committed my plans to paper a focus came and my business started to take shape much quicker.  I do not advise that you start a business without a structured, well thought out and developed plan for growth.  Creating a business plans helps one to focus on the who, what, where and why of the business.  It gives the owner of the business a focused intent and establishes the steps to take to achieve success.

A business plan is also required if you are seeking any kind of financing or financial backing.  Creating a business plan establishes the sales, profit (or loss) goals for the business and outlines the steps needed to achieve those markers.  A really good business plan will also include any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats (S.W.O.T. analysis) to the current business model, to the future growth of the business and to its long term success.

A business plan is also a way to measure the growth and success of the business once it’s been active for a while.  Going back to review the plans you made for the business gives you a checks and balances picture and can then help you to take steps to adjust for increasing marketing and therefore increasing sales. My business plans used to be one year in length, now they are thirty days maximum and sometimes I do weekly plans to keep my business goals in check.

Next week we review the question "What are the tools a fashion designer can use to market, promote and sell their work?"

Is Your Client Base About To Change?

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2015  is a key year for the generations in the workplace. It is the year of the “Generational Turnover” or “transition” and the last year in which the Boomer Generation (now aged 51 to 69) will be the largest generation of working age.  Boomers are being replaced in the workforce by Gen Y (ages 19 to 35) and Gen X (ages 36 to 50). Baby boomers are now retiring and Gen Y, with a population of 82 million and Gen X (population 49 million) will have the greatest presence in the workforce in the next 24 months. This means that the way people work, shop, live and learn is going to undergo a significant change.

How does this impact the Fashion, Style and Image consultant? On several levels – the first of which is that the retiring boomer now needs a whole different wardrobe.  Her needs are now shifting from a work wardrobe to a casual, retired lifestyle wardrobe. For the generations moving into positions of power and competition in the workplace the needs will be for a more professional and appropriate wardrobe.

Additionally if your niche market has been the boomer generation you are going to have to re-think your niche and begin paying attention to the needs of the 19 to 50 year old's who represent the largest group in the workforce in the next 12 to 24 months.

For the next five years the demographic for us to nurture is going to be Gen Y as they become the largest group to mature into 2020. Generation Y age group will be 24 to 40 by then and historically this age group has been the base one for our bread and butter image services.

Start thinking now how you can tailor your services to this big (some would say HUGE) market. You have about a year to begin the change in your business model.

How Does the Wardrobe Stylist Fit Into the Styling World?

There is a significant difference between a Costumer, Costume Designer, Wardrobe Stylist, Fashion Stylist, and Image Consultant.  A Costumer works with the production team on movies and TV shows to create the vision of the costumes and the Costume Designer manifests the vision. The Wardrobe Stylist works hands-on with the actors who are wearing the costumes and the Fashion Stylist does the task of dressing the actor, accessorizing and sometimes tracking the inventory in the wardrobe department. A Wardrobe Stylist also works with private clients editing, curating and styling their clothing choices. The term “wardrobing” means to manage the wardrobe requirements of a project, whether it is film, television, stage or theatre.  The Wardrobe Stylist works with the Costume Designer, the Wardrobe Manager, the production crew, and others.

In general, the Wardrobe Stylist is supplied with directives for fashion coordination from the Wardrobe Manager or the head Costumer.  Depending on the budget you may also be supplied with a story line or design brief from the Costumer.  The design brief can include photographs of ideas, fabric swatches, color palettes, notes about the characters, notes about the scenes, the location, the story and other pertinent details that will help the Costumer create the outfits and costumes the actors wear to represent their characters.

Much of the work the Wardrobe Stylist does is a team effort.  S/he works closely with the Costume Designer (or clothing designer), the art director, the photographers and the stylists that are on set (or on project).  His/her people skills have to be professional and diplomatic.  Since styling for a project is always a team effort, employing multiple creative types, the Wardrobe Stylist needs to be able to negotiate egos and personalities well.

It’s important to know the hierarchy and the job description before you begin, so always check with the set, stage and costume designers for their input before you start work on the project.

You will be asked to supply costumes from wardrobe that fit a particular scene or storyline so it is important you know the inventory.  Most costume departments keep very careful records not just about their inventory, but also about when certain styles were worn, by whom and for what purpose.  The career tracks of Fashion Styling and Wardrobe Styling can, of course, have overlapping skills and techniques.  A Fashion Stylist can and does process wardrobe styling for clients and a Wardrobe Stylist can and does work with celebrity and personal clients on their personal style.

For the purposes of our online training courses we call a Wardrobe Stylist someone who manages the wardrobe, owned by an individual client or a corporate client, such as a movie studio, a fashion retailer, fashion designer, or photographer.

If you would like to know more you can purchase our bestselling book on Amazon "The Professional Wardrobe Stylist" or just sign up and get your professional certification today!

2015 Trends in Fashion, Style and Image Consulting

As the economy heats up more people are returning to traditional work (as opposed to gigs) and will be seeking career advancements.  There will be an increased need for standards in appropriate dress. While appearance standards in recent years have trended toward the casual, as more people started working from home, the overall fashion trend is toward a higher level of style.  This was obvious on the recent Spring Summer 2015 fashion shows where a ladylike sensibility prevailed. Current fashion is also being influenced by eco movements as can be seen in the proliferation of organic and sustainable clothing coming on to the market. This look, while trending, is a casual look and suits the client who works in incubators, collectives, and casual environments but not in the corporate world.

Let’s take a look at the generational needs of our clients for insight into how we image consultants can be of service to both the casual dresser and the corporate one:

The BOOMER generation (age in 2014 = 50 to 68) is becoming focused on the slow fashion movement; the “maker movement” of handcrafted, handmade, one of a kind, custom and “reuse, recycle, reduce.” This generation of client is turning her wardrobe over to re-sale shops and investing in higher priced, higher quality clothing (some prefer luxury labels, others the upscale contemporary designers such as Donna Karan, Eileen Ford, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein etc.). She is a fan of the swap party – trading in unworn clothing for new looks others are also swapping out.

This generation's woman is also aging and her body most likely changing. She is looking for comfort in clothing, preferring a relaxed fit and style.  For this age group the ath-leisure clothing style works well. “No matter how absurdly silly that sounds, there’s a huge audience right now for this “new” category. Apparently, roughly half the people buying “activewear” these days are buying it for “nonactive use, as casual and everyday-wear,” according to a recent study.” Kristin Tice Studeman, blog post, Style.com

  • Potential services for this client could include closet auditing, swap party planning, transitioning into active wear for wardrobe needs and personal shopping to athletic stores (Athleta by Gap, Target, Top Shop, Ann Taylor) for starters. For the slow fashion fan an online shopping session for handmade, hand crafted clothing from Etsy.com would be fun.

For the GENERATION X demographic (age in 2014 = 38 to 48) there are micro-trends taking place. This demographic is experiencing second and third careers, venturing into a business of their own or entrenched in a long term career.  Their fashion needs reflect their budget and clothing choices are less about what is trending than about what can become a classic item to add to her wardrobe. Gen X has matured out of the trendy fashion scene but still likes fashion,  in particular fashion that creates a unique image since attraction is still relevant to this age group.

  • Potential services for this client could include closet styling, wardrobe shopping, accessory coordinate’s sessions, suit tailoring and non-verbal communication sessions to help her improve her executive communication skills.

Bloggers are becoming more influential with their extreme focus of such things as OOTD (outfit of the day) and social causes. Their influence impacts the street style and what is worn by GENERATION Y (age in 2014 = 20 to 37 years old).  This demographic group is now becoming the most powerful shopping group of any generational demographic and fashion trends reflect this pattern - styles are trending toward a 1970’s vibe (vintage to this age group, sexy, powerful and speaks to liberation and freedom). Gen Y also seeks unique, hard to find looks.  Some in this age group love to mix up their looks with clothing and accessories from fast fashion stores (Gap, H&M, Zara, Cos etc.).

  • Potential services for the Gen Y client could include vintage store shopping, Eco-fashion hunting (this age group favors sustainable clothing), fashion show escort to fundraising fashion shows, or fast fashion shopping to spice up a tired wardrobe.

All three of these generations can be found in the corporate work world. At the corporate level more and more women continue their upward striving toward the glass ceiling. Although the numbers are low (women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions) these women influence others to excel.  Their personal image sets the tone for other women working within the company. Yahoo employees saw an uptick in dress standards when Marissa Mayer took the helm (Wall Street Journal, May 2013) - “It’s exciting to have a female leader that you can all sort of look up to, and she is stylish,” said Jennifer Romolini, editor in chief of Yahoo Shine. “We’ve all upped our game.” Your clients will benefit from upping their image game with your help.

In 2015 consultants will have ample opportunity to tap into new markets.  If you have been working with one generation it may be time to explore the needs of others. Your services are always needed and you can grow your business by focusing on these targets this year.

©All rights reserved: Gillian Armour AICI CIP

Your Image Consultant Training Should Reflect Modern Life

Professional training means training you for the image industry as it is today – not how it was ten years ago.  Markets have changed; clients demand specialization.  Don’t rely on trainers with no experience in personal image consulting.  Look for certified experts in the field who can train you and give you answers to the following: If your client asked for a specific type of makeover would you be prepared? Clients may want a couture makeover, milestone makeover, trend overhaul or accessory edit and style.

Are you prepared to give fashion advice, freestyle makeovers or just prepared to discuss fashion trends?

Have you prepared your styling station? Is your style studio ready to accommodate different groups - teen, plus, man, LGBT, religious?

Are your social and etiquette skills up to par and are you ready to interact at an intimate level with clients?

Your consultations will explore details of your client’s personal life story – are you ready?

Can you do style parties or group workshops? And are your speaking and social skills ready?

Can you discuss image trends, styling needs, give compliments and critical feedback?

If you can then you are a professional.  If you can’t then we are here to get you there.

Three Great Tips for Success in Our Online Courses

Taking courses online is a great way to earn education credits. They are a good choice for young students and working adults and working consultants. These courses offer convenience and flexibility that traditional colleges can’t match. However, these benefits come with some drawbacks that you should be aware of. These three tips will go a long way to making your online classes successful.

Time Management Skills

Time management is crucial to success in online classes. Online classes do not have set meeting times. You log in to your virtual classroom whenever you want, and do your work. There is no one but you to make you sit down at your computer and get it done.

You are responsible for reading your syllabus and class instructions, and getting your work turned in on time. There may be several discussion posts due each week on different days. There may be case studies, projects or papers due each week. You have to manage your time to get your school work done around all of your other activities.

This can be especially difficult for working adults. Your job, family, and other obligations can all make it hard to find time for school work. You have to be disciplined and make the time you need.

Reliable Computer Equipment

A good working computer and Internet access are good to have for any college class, but they are a basic necessity for an online class. Everything you do is on your computer. Everything you submit to class is via your Internet connection. If these are not reliable you will find yourself very frustrated and quickly falling behind.

Another necessity is a good computer backup system. There aren't many worse feelings than having a 20 or 30 page paper disappear forever when your hard drive dies. Backup all of your files regularly and avoid this problem. Keeping copies of them on a USB drive is a good idea also.

Even the best of systems sometimes fail. Your Internet goes down, your computer crashes, or your electricity goes out. That is when you will be glad you had an alternate source of Internet access. The local library, a café, or a friend's house all are good options. Take the USB drive that you keep copies of your files on with you, and you can keep right on working. The best alternative is saving your files to a cloud account where access and retrieval are easy if anything goes wrong on your home computer.

A Quiet Workplace

Lastly, you need a quiet place to do your work. You need to be able to concentrate. You may have webinars that you have to attend, complete with video and audio. You will have textbooks to study and assignments to write. You have made the time to do your school work, now you need to give yourself a suitable workspace to do it in.

Online classes can be rewarding and fun. You get to do your work on your schedule, from the comfort of your home. This also means that you have to be a self-starter and be able to manage your time well. Start your online learning experience off right. Make sure you have these three building blocks of success in place.

10 Questions for a Working Image Consultant

As part of their graduate project students are surveyed about their existing business. They give permission to share their projects and, because they are working consultants, we share their surveys here so potential students can get a birds eye view into the field itself. This week Dana Kuznar responds:

What is your niche? (who are your target clients, what specialty do you consult on):

My niche is the average, everyday woman who's never developed her own personal style, and/or has made changes (example: weight gain/loss, lifestyle change) that make her old style no longer "fit." I also like to educate young women (teens) on appropriate dress and makeup that's classy but still young and fun.

What do you like the most about image consulting/ fashion styling?

I love when a woman's outer image finally matches who she feels she is on the inside. It's a moment of blossoming, and her natural beauty just shines.

What do you like the least about your image consulting work?

Because I live in a rural area, I least like the distance and time needed for the best shopping, networking, salons and other services. I'll also have to drive over an hour to see most of my clients.

What is one of the biggest challenges you have had as a small business owner?

Right now I'm transitioning from being a paid employee to owning my own business. I think that transition is the hardest of all. Not only the logistics of it, but just the mindset of owning my own time and my own future. It's exciting and liberating, but kind of scary, too.

What is a highlight of owning your own business?

I love working and always have. The best part of owning my own business is getting to dream, plan, execute and the get all the rewards of my hard work. The harder I work, the better I'll do financially, and when I deserve a raise, I'll give myself one. Also - I own my own time. If I want to hit the gym every day at 10am, I will.

Do you think Image Consultants need to market themselves?

Absolutely. Most people don't even know that image consultants exist - or what they do, for that matter. Honestly, I don't know that many people know the value of their image.

How should they market themselves? What has worked well for you?

A web presence, absolutely. Also, network with stylists, manicurists, nutritionists, gym owners and trainers. Social media is huge (connect wherever one can). Also, get on style chat forums and join the conversation. Carry business cards and, when the gal behind you compliments your blouse, hand her one with, "I know a blouse that would fantastic on you. Let me know if you're interested."

What have you done to promote your business and generate more clients?

Response: See the last question. (Am still getting started, so haven't yet done all these things.)

A few words of advice for new Image Consultants.

I think it's important to know that every woman is beautiful in a unique way. It's our job to bring out her beauty by using the tools of our trade. The most important thing we do is to help someone become her best self. Keep learning, keep listening, and look at every woman with the intent of showcasing her beauty.

Any regrets or mistakes you made that you would like to share?

I just regret getting started on this so late in life (age 50)!

Response: Dana Kuznar @ Colored With Style

www.ColoredWithStyle.com

Thank you Dana for sharing your experience with us!

5 Green Career Ideas for Fashionistas

Green careers in fashion may seem like a futuristic ideal, but many are available right now. Why not be a green fashionista and support the present and future environment by addressing environmental issues while showing a love for fashion? Here are five basic careers to get any fashion-lover started in the industry of fashion and environmental protection. 1. Designing Comfortable Clothing Using Only Renewable Resources

Green fashion for the masses is the ideal way to both fuel a love of fashion and the environment. Become a fashion designer who utilizes textiles made of traditional renewable materials like organic hemp and cotton, or be innovative and create fashion from milk proteins, bamboo, and even TEA! Creating non-traditional fabrics using proteins to create threads from milk, flax, bamboo, and fermented tea are set to be a huge fashion trend. Bringing renewable textiles to the wearable daily fashion industry is an exciting avenue for any budding fashion designer.

2. Fashion Blogging About Green Fashion

Fashion blogs are a dime a dozen, but real fashion blogs about green fashion are rare. There are many blogs whose niches do cover reviews of renewable organic cotton or hemp fashion textiles, but not many covering alternative fabrics made from milk, tea, bamboo, or flax. There are many green fashion trends not being reviewed for the masses. People with a flair for fashion and writing can build exciting part or full time incomes from reviewing trendy products in many new areas of green fashion.

3. Blogging About Organic and Green Makeup Trends

Organic and green makeup reviews abound on the internet, but which are real and which are hype? Further, which companies are telling the truth and which products work as well, or better than, conventional chemical cosmetics? Investigating the trends, styles, and companies, which make up the relatively new “green fashion” market, can be a fun way to launch a career in chemistry, makeup artistry, or even investigative journalism.

4. Green Fashion Writing

The real money to be made is writing for fashion magazines and green trends magazines. Writing about trends in renewable fashion for major magazines is a fantastic way to launch a career in fashion, design, or journalism. Find or create a columnist position in a local paper or smaller fashion magazine that covers unusual organic and alternative textile materials and fashions and work your way up the fashion writer ladder to huge possibilities in major magazines.

5. Fair Trade Advocate

All of the above jobs tie into a major job application as a fair trade advocate. In addition to designing, testing, and writing about fashion made from renewable textiles comes the big responsibility of being an advocate for the sources of such materials. A fair trade advocate can be a public speaker, blog writer, journalist, lobbyist, business advocate, or legal entity who fights for fair trade principles and renewable sources of green materials. A fair trade advocate also fights for the people and communities who produce such materials, in addition to the people in between who work to get the products from farm to customer.

How to Get Started in Green Fashion

The great thing about working in green fashion is that a person does not need to have advanced degrees or certifications to get started. In fact, great fashion careers have started out as small hobbies of sewing, writing, and testing out products. These hobbies have led to jobs, careers, and even certificates and degrees in the fashion industry. People with a flair for the art of fashion and a passion for using renewable resources should foster these passions and use them as a driving force to break into this ever-growing new niche in the fashion world.