Each of the trainees in our Image Consultant Certification course is asked to complete 10 survey questions. We are especially impressed with the thoughtful and delightful Gina Novish who provided us with excellent responses. We do believe in grads helping grads become successful and in that spirit Gina agreed to publicly share her thoughts, advice and experience with you today. Gina can be found at Impact Styling.

What is your niche? (who are your target clients, what specialty do you consult on): As an image consultant in Los Angeles, California my niche clients are entertainment industry professionals. Mainly actresses and actors, but also directors, producers, casting directors, and studio executives. This is my target sector. The specialty is personal wardrobe fashion styling: building outfits for auditions, meetings, networking events and day to day life in the entertainment world.

What do you like the most about image consulting/ fashion styling? What I like most about image consulting and fashion styling is the creativity of creating outfits that flatter and empower the clients. I love that it involves the structure of dressing a person for their body type, coloring and personal needs with the alchemy of collecting pieces that work perfectly for a certain person. It is a gratifying (clothes can make people feel good and confident), flexible (I set my own schedule) and fun (I like people, stores and socializing).

What do you like the least about your image consulting work? What I like least about my image consulting work is lugging the tools of the trade: carting rolling racks, balancing my kit bag (a large on-set bag with scissors, lint rollers, measuring tapes, double stick tape, etc.) with my handbag on my shoulder and carrying bins for sorting clothing when doing a closet edit. Lugging bags and bags and bags of clothing to and from stores and clients homes and doing returns are things I like the least.

What is one of the biggest challenges you have had as a small business owner? Response: One of the biggest challenges I have as a small business owner is planning my schedule far enough in advance so that I can maintain a regular structure from week to week. This may not be realistic when working with entertainment professionals because their schedules are always changing. It might just be the nature of the business.

What is a highlight of owning your own business? Creating something that is a contribution to others' lives that is immediate and empowering. If someone puts on a jacket that actually fits them for the first time and they see themselves in a new and exciting way, that makes all of the work of owning and managing my own business seem like a breeze. Being of service to help people build their self esteem and achieve their goals in life by dressing well.

Do you think Image Consultants need to market themselves? Do I think Image Consultants need to market themselves? Absolutely. There is the need to educate the public on what an image consultant actually does as most people do not know. We can help strengthen businesses, careers, self esteem in general. Marketing and explaining our services helps build public awareness. To get Image consulting known and valued by the general public we need to market ourselves.

How should they market themselves? What has worked well for you? How should Image Consultant market themselves? First of all by being well dressed and groomed - therefore representing the profession. Using all of the tools we have as Image Consultants on ourselves to project a flattering, balanced, aesthetically pleasing image is our calling card. It is the open invitation for someone to inquire about our own cohesive style. We can then enroll them as clients.

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, blogging and other social media avenue are ways that I use to market myself and they have been effective in spreading images of my work. I have gotten clients this way. When a current customer shares social media links to my Pinterest or blog with another person it is an automatic piece of marketing that I use. I also use promotional postcards (digital and paper) to hand out to clients or leave with agencies, acting coaches and studios that I work with. I make them look intriguing and luxurious. The postcards look like fancy invitations. They are very effective in bringing in clients. Clients like to have a postcard and business card to hold onto.

What have you done to promote your business and generate more clients? To promote my business and generate more clients I have done a few things: I have given "complementary" one hour workshops with small groups of people at companies, studios and schools. This introduces styling to groups of people. They see that the process is not as intimidating as they might think and in turn enlist my services. I send out postcards. I email my clients when there are good sales in stores where I like the products and where I know the sales staff. I also give "complementary" mini sessions to people who would like styling and it would make a difference in their lives, but they might not have the financial resources at the moment. Those people in turn are very grateful and send referrals. Word of mouth is a way I (passively) generate business.

A few words of advice for new Image Consultants. A few words of advice for new Image Consultants. 1. Look at magazines such as Vogue, Bazaar and W for inspiration, not just blogs. The editors and stylist at the magazines are seasoned veterans and their work show a deep understanding of fashion and image. 2. Keep detailed notes and pictures of your clients and keep them organized. It helps to refresh the memory when working with them over time. 3. After booking a client immediately put their information and appointment time in your phone or computer. Loosing someone's name or forgetting when you have scheduled a client can be unprofessional and one can miss appointments that way.

Any regrets or mistakes you made that you would like to share? Any regrets or mistakes I have made that I would like to share? I regret not charging more at the start of my business. I initially made my rate too inexpensive and therefore my clients didn't always value the work we set out to do. I'm sure they wondered why I would do it for so little money…so they may have assumed I was not good at what I do.

I still make the mistake with working with the client too long (I want to help them so much!), not having boundaries, not charging enough and exhausting myself.

Thank you Gina for sharing. All of us here at Fashion Stylist Institute applaud your continued success and are always here to support it.