What is Image Consulting

Catherine bell
Catherine Graham Bell, AICI CIP

What is Image Consulting all About?

When I meet someone for the first time, I seldom reveal that I’m an image consultant.  If I do, the person immediately starts grasping at their clothes with embarrassment, saying, “I didn’t wear the right thing today.”  Why does one’s personal image evoke such an extreme level of self-consciousness?  Why do people think that engaging an image consultant is an admission of failure?  We hire a plumber or accountant when we need their expertise.

Your image provides others with an immediate impression of you which is so memorable, it lasts forever.  It affects both individuals and organizations and has to do with all that is revealed, consciously and subconsciously, through your appearance, behaviour and communication.

Perception and reality are not always in sync with each other.  Image consultants can help you align these, freeing you to live authentically. It all starts with understanding what is naturally deep inside you and then helping you reveal what is there to the outside world.

Because you are unique, there is never a standard image to emulate. What you see on popular makeover shows, where willing participants are quickly transformed into new people, usually without meaningful conversations regarding how they want to be perceived, is NOT what image consulting is all about.

Professional image consultants work together with their clients to ensure that their image communicates their best traits and expresses their true personality.  Alone, it is often difficult to define these; even experienced people are often not aware of the impact of their first impressions and their professional image.  Therefore, it’s effective to enlist the services of a perceptive, certified image professional to find out how you come across and receive the tools to confidently convey to others the messages that you intend. This way, you’ll always make a PRIME Impression!

Why use a Certified Image Professional?

Anyone can say that they are an image consultant, personal stylist, or etiquette expert, but only those who have gone through the rigorous Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) certification process can use ‘AICI CIP’ after their name, indicating that they are a Certified Image Professional.  How did they achieve this? They submitted an extensive portfolio to be internationally peer-reviewed, verifying that they possess a high level of experience across many industry sectors, have held leadership positions, are continually updating their education, and are positive influencers and volunteers.  Currently, I am one of only 11 Certified Image Professionals in Canada.

Why choose Catherine Bell?

On the personal image side, many image consultants specialize only in one area, such as personal colour analysis, body style analysis, quick makeovers, clothing shopping, or dining etiquette.  Catherine has expertise across all the ABCs of image – appearance, behaviour and communication, so that clients can be confident that their total image is aligned, expressing a unified message, whatever the situation.

Catherine’s previous experience as a fashion designer and professor give her skills and insight that most members of AICI and other personal stylists do not possess.  Not only does she know that certain colours, textures and proportions will suit specific men and women, she can articulate why, empowering her clients to make wise clothing investments.  Her expertise in fit, textiles, clothing construction and tailoring add further value.

On the corporate side, before opening PRIME Impressions, Catherine worked several years in a large clothing manufacturing firm as head designer and merchandise manager.  She understands the complexities of running a national company, consistently meeting and surpassing sales targets, identifying trends, and pleasing clients with attention to detail, a sense of urgency and personalized customer service.

Lastly, Catherine has over 35 years of teaching across a wide variety of areas, including entrepreneurship, image management, business networking, communications, presentation skills, workplace relationships, and career search strategies.

What makes our corporate seminars unique?

Catherine’s ability to deliver fully customized, engaging seminars and conference workshops keep her in demand with corporations, not-for-profits, and businesses.  Why?  Before creating any program, she meets with the key people in the organization to discover her clients’ needs, which could involve learning new skills or “points of pain” that they are uncomfortable speaking about with their staff.  From there Catherine draws up an outline for approval that contains her perceptions of these needs and the ways that they could be addressed in an interactive seminar that encourages participants to take ownership of the content and immediately put it into action.  PRIME Impressions’ clients range from mechanics to multi-national automakers, funeral homes to entertainment firms, and healthcare to finance, just to mention a few.

What is PRIME Impressions’ image consulting philosophy?

Our mission is to ensure that our clients are successful in reaching their full image potential.  This is done through carefully listening, tactfully sharing observations, and designing image strategies customized for the context in which they live and work. At PRIME Impressions, we celebrate individuality and have worked with all economic backgrounds, ages, cultures, genders, and levels of ability. Client confidentiality is always respected and protected.