AICI Newsletter October 2016
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Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm originally a California native and will always be a California girl at heart. I grew up, however in Chicago and it was there that I finished high school, received my BA in Organizational Communication from Loyola University and my law degree in Employment & Labor Law at Chicago-Kent Law School. Later I received my PhD in Human Development and Social Systems. I'm married to another California native who ended up in the Pacific Northwest as well. We have two gorgeous kiddos, our son Nick a 20 year old college student and our daughter a 17 year old college bound high school senior. When I was younger, I wanted to sing on Broadway or in the Opera and I actually studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music for 2 years. I'm also soon to be 53 years old, which I'm rather proud of!
Q2. What made you become an image consultant ?
I've always loved fashion, shopping, and clothes. After a career in law, I experienced a bit of burnout and wanted my work to be fun. I started building a retail jewelry business and this served as the jumping off point into becoming an Image Consultant. So I searched training programs, became a certified image consultant and most recently an AICI Certified Image Consultant.
I absolutely LOVE the versatility of this industry, the work you can do and the clients and corporations you can work with. It's like being a holistic practitioner because you have the ability to work with individuals and businesses in such diverse ways.
Q3. What is the biggest challenge you find in being successful in this profession and how do you tackle it ?
I've found 3 key areas of challenge and I don't believe I'm alone in this, having spoken to other image consultants. First, the public have no clear understanding of the profession. There's no real industry standard for being an image consultant and anyone can really call themselves an image consultant whether they have any formal training or not. In addition, most individuals don't know the difference between a stylist, image consultant, fashion blogger, or style influencer and many of use the terms synonymously which fuels the confusion.
This leads to my second point which the varied nature and capacity of the work image consultants can do. Because we're trained in appearance, behavior, and communication, any image consultant can specialize in one, two or all of these areas. When I started, I was focused on the appearance aspect ignoring all of my previous education and training in the other two. Now, after 2 years in this industry I'm gaining clarity on the work I want to do, but the breadth of the field and possibilities was a bit overwhelming and I struggled with trying to be all things to all people.
Finally, there's no clear path for building an image business, which I believe has something to do with the two issues I've outlined above. Other industries are more forthcoming with what they did to find success, I know because I've been in a few careers over my life.
As a result the profession is very good at educating and preparing you for the myriad of ways you can work with clients but once you reach the end of this you're kind of dropped off cliff and expected to build your wings are you're falling.
Those who do learn how to do that succeed and for that reason may be less than forthcoming on how they did that, and for the others...well you get the picture. So I've had to get some coaching and mentoring and recall what I did when I build my last 6-figure consulting practice and put all that to work for me.
Q4. Who is your inspiration ?
In life, my late Aunt Mary! She was an innovator and survivor. I learned so much about how to live my life and achieve my goals. From afar, I look to so many powerful women who have blazed a trail for me and walked a path of authenticity and truth. From Harriet Tubman to India.Aire and Helen Keller to Marianne Williamson. 
Q5. What are you doing when you are not working ?
My two favorite activities (outside of traveling) is reading and watching movies! 
Q6. What is the one style advice you would give to everyone ?
Take the time to get to know yourself, what you love, and what reflects and fuels who you are! From there your style will emerge and when it does embrace it and your significance.
Q7. What is your advice to future image consultants ?
Take the time to figure out what you want to do with your image business, who you want to work with and the type of work you want to do. Be open to the possibility that your interest and focus may change but try to don't to do everything all the time, it will drive you crazy. This business is beautifully and surprising creatively complex so the sky is the limit as an image consultant.

To know more about Carol, visit her website, Evolve Image Consulting

Dear Young Alyson,

Looking back from the vantage point of almost 40 years in the image consulting profession, I have a great deal to tell you. When you grow up, be thankful for the courage you display. You will be one of the founders and so always continue in this wonderful profession. You would have seen it grow from the first San Francisco chapter to a world wide organization. Image Consulting affords us a great opportunity to affect our clients in such a positive way. By working with people’s outer appearance, we affect their inner being, self-concept and motivate them to be the best they can be.

Thirty years later, you will write an article for the International Newsletter titled, “Image Consulting- a Nobel Profession”. In that article, you will tell the world that image consultants wear three hats. First, we are consultants solving a problem. Second, we are teachers providing the answers to what they need to know. Third, we are therapists/coaches motivating people to understand themselves and live into their highest potential. The next thing I would tell you, is to preserve and not give up if this is your dream.

Have faith and trust in your ability to get the education, find right teachers/trainers, circumstances, and specialized area of interest for yourself. Also, find a mentor. It will bring you a long way. Each of us has a unique gift to contribute, and if we do not utilize that gift, we will not recognize that we have it, and most importantly, our gift will not be received by anyone. We must “follow our bliss” and do what we love.

Never forget that it is a crucial to have a work life balance. Realize that every period and decade has its own purpose. You do not want to miss out on what is occurring during that time. You will marry young and have children during that decade, so don't worry if it takes time to fulfil your dream. The wait will be worth it because the time you spend with your children will be invaluable. There is always time to get into the “passion” of your career whether it be in your forties, fifties or sixties. It is never too late to do what you love.

Regarding balance, it is also important to take care of your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. All of these will work together to make you a more well rounded and successful image consultant. You will have more to offer your clients from your wholeness. It is vital to find a sense of propose and vitality in every decade of your life. It is also important to keep learning and growing. It keeps us young and interested in the life. 

Last but not least, always be grateful. Image consulting will give you untold satisfaction and a true outlet for creativity and purpose.

- Love, the Older Alyson

To know more about Alyson Parson visit her website, Universal Style
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