How I tamed my less than flattering Patterned dress

One of our jobs as image consultants is to help clients make less than flattering clothing work for them where we can. I thought I’d use a recent purchase of mine as an example of how I would do this.

The minute I saw this dress, I loved the print even though the colours were not ideal. Print in general is tricky for me, unless it is very subtle. I tend to look better in solid colours.

I went ahead and purchased it anyway ’cause you only live once and I loved it.

It arrived by post yesterday and indeed the colours are not for me but I love the shape and the print so I will be keeping it.

Here is what I plan to do to rein the pattern in and make it work for a Summer girl with a neat hourglass shape ( figure of eight).

  1. I will add a fitted navy jacket so that there is a solid flattering colour up near my face. The fitted jacket is slimming and will showcase my small and high waist. The fitted layer will ensure that the flare of the pleats start lower down on my body which is much more flattering for a figure of eight.
  2. I will be adding a slim belt in a coordinating colour to the jacket to balance all the detail on the skirt and to further emphasise one of the smaller parts of my body.
  3. I plan to add a heavier sandal in a nude tone to balance the weight added by the jacket and belt in upper part of the outfit.

So you can see, it can be easy to style an item to make it work for you.

I think the essential thing to keep in mind is that the shape of the dress much be flattering for your figure. That bit is pretty non- negotiable.

Would you be able to wear this dress?

How would you style it to make it work for your colouring and body shape?

Jack of all trades, master of none

Are you a Jack of all trades but master of none?

Many image consultants are trained in colour, style, wardrobe and personal shopping. You provide all these services to everyone- men, women, corporations – anyone who is interested. You take this approach because you want to get experience and clients.

The thought process is that, if I cast my net wide, I will surely get lots of clients.

You have probably invested a lot of money in training, left a well-paid job and took a huge leap of faith to start your business. You work long hours spreading the word about your style services and marketing yourself despite the fear of rejection and judgement. Passion keeps you going for the first year or so but when exhaustion sets in and your diary is still almost empty, you start to wonder if this career is really for you.

The problem with the ‘cast the net wide’ approach to marketing is that, in your efforts to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one! While it is tempting to think that everyone needs your services, in reality, working off this assumption will invariably take you down what I call the path of ‘no paying clients ’.

It’s a costly mistake – I should know, I took this approach in the first two years of my business before I wised up and niched down.

Once I decided to niche down to small business women entrepreneurs, who needed help with their colour and style, my business took off. My marketing efforts became effective and I started getting clients who were a perfect fit for me. I was finally enjoying my image business and making enough money to stay in business and buy the things I wanted.

This worked great for a while but I realised after a few more years that I wasn’t enjoying work as much as I used to, the clients were starting to dwindle and I just wasn’t that motivated anymore.

I had an epiphany to niche down again after another image consultant asked me if I would train her in colour. The idea really appealed to me and once I got my head around what I needed to do, I was once again excited about my work. I started my image consultant training programs in 2010 and loved working with like minded image consultants simplifying colour analysis and helping them to grow their businesses.

What I learned is that niching down/ ideal client work needs to be done routinely as we grow and change. It is usually not a one-off exercise. I had to do a similar exercise when I restarted my business after taking a break for a few years.

Ideal client work is a must if you want a profitable and fun business. While I find myself resisting doing the work, I have found that it pushes me to expand and grow. I have more fun with my clients, and they have an amazing experience because they get the best of me. Guess what they do then? They go out and recommend me to everyone they know.

In my mind, there is no option but to identify your ideal client and niche down as early as you can in your business.

Have you done the work?

I am running a FREE 5-DAY IDEAL CLIENT CHALLENGE starting on 24th Feb 2020. It’s a great opportunity to evaluate your ideal client and niche down if you are ready.

The client that almost caused me to close up shop and go home…………

I got a message from one of my image consultant clients during the week asking me how she should handle a difficult customer. It brought back a rather horrific memory of a difficult client of my own from 11 years back.

At that time I was an image consultant offering pretty much every colour and image service a stylist could offer and I was extending all these services to men, women and corporations. I was also providing nutrition consultations! I was hardly likely to attract my ideal client…

And indeed I did not attract my perfect fit…

I got a call from the clients secretary that he was visiting Singapore and that he needed the services of an image consultant as he has lost weight. He was staying at The Four Seasons Hotel and we booked in a time that I would come to the hotel for a consult with him on style and wardrobe.

Unfortunately I had been really busy around the time of getting this enquiry (It was only a few months after my first son was born) so I didn’t actually vet him adequately and suss out if we were a good fit to work together.

I arrived at the hotel on the day of the appointment, I was met at reception by the secretary and I was brought to meet the client in the presidential suite.

Things were not right from the get go and alarm bells started ringing almost immediately.

He told me that he had already had a consult with another image consultant but he had decided not to work with her because he didn’t like her advice.

He then proceeded to question me about all my services. He was particularly interested in my thoughts around nutrition possibly because he had lost weight recently. He then proceeded to tell me that my nutrition services mustn’t be very good as I was overweight.(Indeed I was about 20Ibs overweight as I put on quite a bit with my first son).

I should have cut my losses at that point and ended the consultation but I didn’t, possibly because I was in shock.

We proceeded to his closet and he wanted my advise on how to alter all his clothes as they were now too big for him. The jackets, shirts and pants had been tailored for him when he was a significantly bigger size. I could clearly see that altering these clothes would not help him look better. I said as much to him and explained to him the colours and styles that would work better for him and show off his now much slimmer form.

I was very thankful when the consultation was finished and it was time to go home. I asked him how he would like to pay and he said that he wasn’t happy with the consultation and that he wasn’t going to pay.

I can still feel my cheeks burning up with shame! Somehow I stood my ground and I ended up getting partial payment.

The moral of this story is that if I had known who my ideal client was, I would never have taken this client on. My ideal client at the time (had I known it!) was a female expat small business owner.

When I look back now, it is clear to me that he was absolutely the opposite of my ideal client. This incident wreaked havoc with my self-esteem and confidence and I even considered that maybe I was in the wrong profession.

Once I got over the worst of the shame and reviewed how this situation had happened, it became clear to me that I needed to niche down and work only with clients that were a good fit for me. This was a turning point for me in my business. I started to attract much nicer people and I was much better able to help them. Niching down actually got me a steady flow of my perfect client.

Are you attracting less than your perfect client? Have you had difficult clients in the past? Have you niched down yet?

The next round of my 5 Day Ideal Client Challenge for Image Consultants & Personal Stylists starts on 24th Feb 2020.

 

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About NICHing DOWN

I talk a lot about niching down and identifying your ideal client because I think this is one of the most important things you need to establish as early as possible in your business. It will save you time, effort and money and more importantly, it will ensure a steady flow of clients.

You will know exactly where to focus your attention to find customers and you will be laser clear in your marketing efforts.

Here are 5 of the common questions and objections I hear about niching down:

  1. I already don’t get enough clients. Won’t niching make it even more difficult to get clients?

Trying to appeal to everyone means that your are keeping your message general and you are solving no ones specific problem. Therefore very few are responding to your message.

A general message will not connect unless the person feels you are talking directly to them.

An example I have seen of this is ‘I help woman look and feel fabulous by showing them how to dress well’. This message could actually apply to any woman on the planet and most will scroll on by.

Contrast this with ‘ I help female HR professionals build a simple, practical and professional capsule wardrobe so that they always have something smart to wear for work events.’. I know that the majority of HR professionals would love that problem solved.

Niche down so that you speak directly to the person you want to work with and help them to solve their specific problems.

  1. How can I figure out what my niche is?

Nobody can do this work for you except you though their are plenty of coaches out there that will help you, including me. It requires figuring out what you really love doing (Your Zone of Genius), where you can add value in your customers life and what makes business sense. Working out where these three questions intersect usually involves some serious digging into your likes, dislikes and passions. I am running a 5 Day Ideal Client Challenge soon where I help you identify your ideal client and/or niche. Find out more about it and sign up here. Next round is scheduled for 24th Feb 2020.

Aileen’s Ideal Client Challenge helped me dig down deep within myself who I really want to work with so that I know who to reach out to. Aileen is such a wonderful understanding coach. She is really gifted at what she does. I highly recommend Aileen and can’t wait to work with her again in the future.

SArena Piscetelli, Image Consultant.

  1. What if I choose the wrong niche?

Having a successful business is all about taking calculated risks. Many successful businesses change and pivot every day. They have to in response to feedback and what their client actually wants and needs. Staying safe will not get you business to where it needs to be. Pivoting and handling change are two skills every business person need to be comfortable with.

  1. I love variety. Won’t niching down be boring?

I hear you. I love variety too. In fact I loved it so much that I provided nutritional services, image services and shopping services to men, women and corporations. I was a Jack of all trades but master of none. Variety becomes old quick when you are run ragged but not getting much monetary return for your efforts. Now

I am crystal clear on what I offer and who I offer it to.I am an expert in helping image consultants take their business online, get more clients and be financially independent. I enjoy variety in my personal and social pursuits.

  1. I don’t feel like I am an expert in any area of image consulting. How can I niche down?

You become an expert by niching down and knowing your ideal client inside out and upside down. You know them so well that you know what keeps them awake at night. You have a simple and practical solution that helps them solve a problem in their life. You are their go to person when they have the problem that you can solve. You know you are operating in your zone of genius when your clients rave about your services.

” Hi Aileen, I’m doing a LinkedIn challenge and need to recommend 5 people today. You are an obvious choice as your help and support has given me the confidence to pick up my online colour consultation and make it real! I’m still learning from you every day and have a long way to go, but i would highly recommend any image consultant wanting to believe in her business to do a course with you x”

ADELE MITCHELL, IMAGE CONSULTANT

If you are thinking that maybe niching down is the next step for you in your business, then my 5 Day Ideal Client Challenge designed specifically for Image Consultants & Personal Stylists is perfect for you.

DRAPES: Do You Really Need Them? This Will Help You Decide!

I got my first set of drapes made up in Singapore in 2005. I went along to Spotlight at Plaza Singapura, picked out fabric in the different seasonal categories and took them to my tailor to get them cut out and stitched up beautifully.

I still have that original set of drapes and they are still perfect after all these years. They have survived several house moves and even a move across the world.

I love them but I rarely use them these days. You see, somewhere along the way I figured out how to tell the colours that suit you without having to drape you.

So the question is, do you actually need drapes to do a colour analysis?

The simple answer is no. I do colour analysis consultations every day without a drape in sight. However, don’t forget that I have spent several years wielding drapes and learnt how to use them so that I could show clients what I was seeing. I could show them how the wrong colour caused every line, wrinkle and blemish to be more obvious, whereas the right colour cleared the skin, made them look younger and was like a mini facelift.

Even though I don’t use drapes anymore, I can see the drapes in my ‘minds eye’ and imagine the effect this will have on the client.

The drapes work really well for people who are visual but of course everyone is not a visual learner and many of my clients could not see what I was seeing when I draped them. I also see this in my 5 Weeks to Online Colour Expert Training Program. Several of the consultants in there who found the drapes just confused them, are perfectly capable of doing colour analysis without the drapes. Drapes are just one of the tools that can be used in a successful colour analysis.

Despite this, I still think that if you are starting out as a colour consultant, then a simple set of drapes is a good idea. It will train your eye and give you confidence to be able to do colour analysis while showing the client exactly what you see. Eventually you will probably not need the drapes but you may decide to continue to use them, just because you like to and because you like showing your client the difference.

You can learn all about drapes and the minimum you need to get started in my Colour Analysis Made Simple Training & Support Group. All the training in the group is recorded and you will have lifelong access.