How I Started My Image Consulting Business

business clothing image consulting lifestyle Feb 18, 2024

The mid 1980’s found me selling PC and Apple computers at a retail store on the Peninsula just south of San Francisco. Though I didn’t relate much to the high tech products, I enjoyed meeting and connecting with different people every day. And, I was always on the lookout for something more interesting to do. 

 After selling a bunch of PC’s to a corporate guy named Mike, we became friends (ok, we dated briefly first:) He had recently relocated to the Bay Area from Toledo, Ohio, and was a top sales exec for a national company based on the East Coast. And though he was a very handsome 5’11” prematurely grey 40 year old Italian American guy with olive skin and green eyes, he was a terrible dresser. As in really bad. Wrong color choices, mismatched, ill fitting clothing…his wardrobe completely distracted from his good looks. It was simply not congruent with who he was in his life. Let’s just say that in 1986 San Francisco was a lot more hip and stylish than the mid-west and he was clueless. 

 One day over lunch I said, “Mike, you are such a great looking guy and your clothing doesn’t show you off as it could. 

Would you be open to letting me take you shopping?” A bit taken aback, he agreed to do so when he got his next paycheck.

 Off we went to a local mall. Starting with a sports jacket, we then found several pairs of slacks, shirts, belts, shoes, and socks that all coordinated to create a “capsule wardrobe” for him. We also got him some jeans, a couple of sweaters and casual shirts; all for $1200 which went a lot further in those days!

 Our shopping day complete, Mike asked if I’d please head back to his home with him to assist in packing for a business trip the next day.  It turned out he was one of the approximately 8% of men who have some form of color blindness. As he joked, “If the red light wasn’t always on the top there’d be a lot more accidents!” But jokes aside, his red/green color blindness (which is the most common type) had been the source of childhood teasing, and had caused him to feel a lack of self-confidence that a lot of great looking, successful men take for granted. 

 Since he was going on a business trip the next day we used packing as the perfect way for me to lay out ensembles that worked, and I marked matching pieces with an A, others with a B on their labels so he’d be able to replicate the outfits. These days my job is a lot easier since everyone has a smart phone with a camera! 

 Upon his return from a week on the East Coast where he’d both done business as well as met with family and old friends, he invited me to dinner at a very upscale restaurant in San Francisco (definitely the fanciest meal I’d ever been treated to at the age of 30!). 

 He picked me up looking great in one of the ensembles I’d picked out for him, including an olive green shirt that accentuated his eyes perfectly. Over dinner he told me how amazing it had been to receive compliments about how great he looked from both business and personal connections. He’d been asked what happened; had he fallen in love? Won the lottery?

 A fairly introverted guy, he even admitted to have felt the confidence to flirt with a woman on the plane en route back to SF and had a date set up for a few days later:)

 I was astounded at the difference I’d made for this man. Just a few hours of my time plus some of his money, had transformed his experience of himself, ultimately resulting in him attracting more business and a more exciting love life. 

 My entrepreneurial spirit was tweaked, so I asked him what he would have paid for such a service, as back in 1986 “Image Consulting” was not a known career for lay people. Then, it was only media and the entertainment business that used stylists ie.“Nicole Kidman, styled by ________...”. He responded with $50.00 an hour. 

 I hung a shingle, telling all the other guys and women I met through selling computer systems that I’d like to take them shopping…and many hired me on the spot. That’s how Appeal Style Consulting was launched. 

 Since then I’ve dressed people of all sizes and shapes including obese women, men over 6’7”, little people, etc. They ranged from business people wanting  a wardrobe upgrade, to people who’ve survived a life threatening, potentially disfiguring disease such as having had mastectomies from breast cancer. I even dressed a guy (and his girlfriend) to give a presentation to then President Clinton in the White House!

 I learned early on that for the majority of my clients, it was less about the clothing, and more about how each individual felt about themselves. Since most clients came to me after a huge life transition such as divorce, widowhood, menopause, or becoming empty nested, the common theme was a desire and need to feel and look sexy and attractive again. But before we could go shopping, we first had to determine who they were becoming and then dress them congruent to the new version of themselves that was emerging. 

 These days I’m delighted to offer image consulting services as a stand alone package or as part of a larger lifestyle makeover.  

And since the pandemic, I now offer makeovers virtually!

 My “Clothing, Confidence, and Charisma” workbook will get you started. Then we’ll jump on Zoom to go over your results, or if by chance you live in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area let’s go shopping!  

 Let’s jump on a call to explore your style needs ~ from the boardroom the bedroom.

 Here’s to looking good😉!




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