Read as Lori Ann Robinson talks about her career as an Image and Fashion Consultant. You can find Lori at www.larconsultants.com and on her Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I am an Image and Fashion Consultant, and Speaker.
How would you describe what you do?
I work with men and women to enhance their personal and professional image. I assist them with their wardrobe, teaching them how to dress for success and guide them with business etiquette and communication so they can develop their ‘visual business card’. I work with my clients from the inside out.
What does your work entail?
When I work with an individual I start with a consultation finding out their needs and concerns. From that fact-finding phase, I will be able to determine what services they will need and a plan is made. The service may start with a color analysis determining what colors look best on them. We may then work with their current wardrobe and do a closet edit. A list is then made for a day of personal shopping. We may also schedule coaching sessions for their personal development. When a corporate client contacts me I start with a questionnaire about the company needs and what type of presentation is best. I usually then will draw up a proposal and meet with the decision maker to discuss if they are in my area. Otherwise we discuss over the phone or SKYPE.
What’s a typical work week like?
Every week varies. That is why I love having my own business. Some weeks are juggling clients to complete their image makeover, other weeks may be preparing for a corporate presentation. There are various weeks throughout the year when I teach my image and fashion course to budding image consultants. A day does not go by that I do not do a marketing activity, which is the lifeblood of every small business.
How did you get started?
After art school where I studied fashion illustration and advertising design, I realized how much I wanted to be in the fashion field. My big dream was to become a designer. I was not ready to move to New York where the best schools were. I landed a costume design apprentice position at a theatre. It was there I was able to meet and interact with celebrities and highly sought after theatre professionals. I remained at the theatre for over 4 years eventually working my way to becoming the resident designer. I met such interesting artists from Los Angeles that I felt that was going to be my next chapter. I wanted to try my hand at working in television and film. I worked on various productions and in different media. I landed an assistant costume designer job at a very well known daytime drama. Again I worked my way up to head designer in the genre where I received 4 Emmy nominations for my work. It was a wonderful learning and rewarding experience filled with exciting opportunities. It gave me the foundation to become an image consultant. I worked with some of Hollywood’s top talented people. I always had the desire to have my own business so I left entertainment and opened my own business in 2004. I have never looked back. I get to do what I love- that is helping people achieve their personal and professional best.
What do you like about what you do?
I love to help people and teach them that with the right tools they can look and feel terrific.
What do you dislike?
Time logistics of getting around Los Angeles with my clients. You need to have plan A, B, C and D!
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
It varies depending on how many clients and corporate speaking engagements I have during the year. Compensation is calculated by what services the individual client needs. Speaking engagements are based on a fee determined after a discovery session of client needs.
How much money do Fashion Consultants make?
This greatly depends on your experience and geographical area that you live. In the larger fashion cities rates are higher. A fashion consultant in a non-metro city may make anywhere from $50-$75 per hour versus $100-$300 in a fashion capital. Most consultants work on an hourly fee but there are those who work on flat day rates.
How much money did/do you make starting out as a Fashion Consultant?
First year was my leanest year around 25K. You are networking, marketing and building your infrastructure and doing all the things one needs to do in the beginning of any type of business. I was lucky and was able to take costuming jobs on the side to keep afloat. As my business grew, every year got better.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
The more experience you have the better. Having a sense of style and a keen eye for color is paramount. Having a good head for business and how to deal with people is key too. Working in some type of fashion field will be of service to you. Taking a course in image and fashion consulting is a must.
What is most challenging about what you do?
I work with a great deal of women and men with figure challenges. One of my biggest challenges is to find the right wardrobe for them off the rack. I often will have a look and style in my head and I will have difficulty finding my vision. It can sometimes be about compromises.
What is most rewarding?
Having clients tell me of their successes. I love to hear about the compliments they are receiving about their new enhanced image. And I get excited if they get a promotion or new job. I know I make a difference for my clients and a smiling, happy client is worth his/her weight in gold.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
You must be well trained in the image service/services you are going to be providing. Clients come to image consultants in distress and having excellent training will help you guide them to their full image potential. Also figure out who is your ideal client and try to niche yourself.
How much time off do you get/take?
Can you hear me laugh? I am a bit of a workaholic. I am always doing something business oriented even on so called ‘off days”. I love to work, so I do not take much more than 5 days off at a time. I work many of the major Monday holidays since stores are open and my clients have the day off.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That image and fashion consultants are too judgmental and show up with a garbage bag ready to throw out all your clothes, shoes and accessories. That is not how it is when I meet with clients. This is a personal journey for many and you need to be compassionate and kind in your approach.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I would love to have my own TV show one day, and maybe my own line of clothing and accessories. I have great ideas and would love to see them come to fruition working with the right people.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
I know this sounds cliché, but you must love what you do, or what’s the point! I am constantly learning and evolving. I sacrificed a lot over the years and most of the time it was well worth it. Always keep up on technology no matter what you are doing. It is how business is going to survive.