21 Oct Blanck Mogul: Wunmi Balogun Talks The Art of Image Consulting.
It is true that clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance. I’ll also add that presentation is almost everything in the world we now live. To make the most of all your efforts and hard work, one must strive to look and present themselves consciously or unconsciously the way they wish to be addressed.
It’s on the basis of this fact, we chat with the prolific Manchester-UK based image consultant and Founder of Iven Alger about the art and businesses of image consulting, how he started out, what image Consulting really is about and why we all need classes. He takes us to school in this very liberating interview by Franka Chiedu with images courtsey of Wunmi Balogun.
Thank you for you time Wumi, can you kindly tell us about yourself and what you do?
My name is Omowumi Balogun. But many just call me Wumi. I grew up in Mushin, Lagos. Had a BA Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin. I left university in 2004, had a few year stint in Lagos as a stylist before moving to the UK in 2010. I launched Iven Alger in 2014 as a lifestyle brand for people and corporations who simply want to be extraordinaire in all they do. The success of it has led to working with top executives, companies and gentlemen on corporate image, signature styling, personal branding and creative fashion designs from four different countries.
How did you start out and how lucrative would you say this line of business is?
My aim is to share my own perspective of the world of luxury lifestyle with friends and people around the world. So, when I enrolled at the famous London Image Institute for an advanced image consulting and personal development in 2014, it took a new turn entirely and I was exposed to a new world of people transformation and brand building. Finishing from image consulting institute won’t automatically bring lucre except if you are very creative with it. At first, I did a few freelance personal styling and personal shopping with friends and work colleagues. But, with the birth of Iven Alger, I have been able to do a lot.
What is image consultancy and who would you classify as an ideal client?
It is the provision of professional advice to individuals and companies on their appearance, behavior and how they can make impact with the way they communicate. It involves advising people to dress in colours that suits their skin temperature, hair style and makeup that will transform their look, styling for events and wedding, how to present themselves in public and guding corporate clients on business image, personal branding and appearance. From college graduates to medical practitioners who are looking for a new move, there is always that person who needs help with how to appear for an interview, answer interview questions and learn how to use gestures to reinforce their verbal communication at interviews. Our clientele includes celebrities, music artists, top executives and politicians. We often advise corporate clients on verbal and non verbal language in business situations, how to understand brand and corporate cultures, how to design dress code for employees and training workshops on employees personal branding . Personally, I consult for corporations, top executives, politicians and celebrities. I deliver training workshops on personal branding, political branding and corporate image while offering a total lifestyle branding.
Give us a vivid description of a typical work day for you.
For me, everyday brings its own amazing experience and I always learn new thing from this experience. One day, it is about top executive personal branding strategy, space design or luxury wardrobe styling, another day we are simply looking at bespoke training workshops for a corporate client. Whatever it is I am doing for the day, it always starts with waking up to an alarm at 6am to a 30-minute light exercise, then off I go. The rest part of the day is complemented with bits and pieces of other jobs which often include luxury shopping, style presentations, content creation, wardrobe consulting, networking, arranging photo shoots and other activities that keep my creative juices flowing.
What are the most common challenges with this line of business and how have you managed to keep a level head.
It is usually getting a client to take the professional advice you have given to them, even when they have paid for the service. This happens with big organisations as well, and it always get in the way of the result you are aiming at when working with clients. As a consultant, that is a big challenge.
On the scale of 1-10 how would you class the popularity of image consulting as a business( please give reasons for your answer)?
I would definitely rate it as 9, and this is because image consultants have varied specialties which are popular among a large number of people. Talk of personal brand experts, colorists, skin care specialists, designers, product developers, pr consultants, protocol and etiquette experts. These are all image consultants doing amazing things with their clients.
Why image consulting and why do we need you?
I have always loved styling and looking stylish. I enjoy working with people and personal branding is a huge thing for me. At a point, I discovered that I have a strong passion for fashion signature styling. This was the point I thought I should consider a formal education in fashion and style. I chose image consulting because it is the only umbrella with so many branches under it. That, for me, is what will always edge me ahead of the competition. I am sure, we all want to upgrade, improve and update our appearance so that it congruent with out roles and goals.
How does it work generally- did you have to study for it or is there some supernatural / psychological ability to discern the best public persona for a client?
Like I said earlier in the interview, I trained at the famous London Image Institute. This was where I was taught the skills I need for the job.
Is this mainly based on physical appearance or do you move a step further in teaching public etiquette and all?
Image consultancy transcends fashion or appearance. We have fashion pr, protocol, etiquette and manners, personal styling, pr consultancy, personal branding, executive presence, customer service training for employees, dress codes for organisations, presentation skills and business image.
Are image consultants the same as stylists? Please explain further
Yes. You can train to be an image consultant and just choose to be a personal stylist or a colorist, or a personal shopper. There must be one or two specialties that work well for you. People who train as stylists can also call themselves image consultants because they are in the business of transforming people or improving their image. With the AICI, a body that regulates the image profession, there are skilled and unskilled image consultants. So, to become a skilled image consultant, you need a practical training.
What celebrities would you say know and effectively use the services of image consultants.
Many of them. Nadja Swarovski, Mary J Blige, Angelina Jolie, J Lo, Mitt Romney, Simon Cowell, Michelle Collins, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Clinton, Gemma Atkinson, The British Royal family and royal families from the Arab world and the Asia Pacific countries. Some of these celebrities don’t just use the service of an image consultant for the sake of it. They use it to perfect their look and to create a signature style for themselves. And for the royals, it is about etiquette. You also have companies like Virgin Airline, Mastercard, British Airways, Starbucks, Subway, Nike, Next, CNN etc. The list is just inexhaustive.
What celebrities home/ abroad do you reckon need your services?
Really, I would simply say whichever celebrity is struggling with their image. And there are loads of them out there. Especially withing the Nigerian setting, you have many of these celebrities who don’t understand or seem to appreciate the real essence of image makeover or etiquette in their entire career, yet there are professional image consultants in Nigeria who can help them . Working with professional image consultants is the only way they can find their Wow Factor.
What business lessons have you picked up along the way and what is that one thing you wish you knew before setting out?
How to say no to a project that doesn’t resonate with my brand vision, and I wish I knew that it is ok for people to fail. The fear of failure itself hindered me from doing few things I would consider epic.
I’m a celebrity/ public figure who doesn’t see the need for image consulting, what would you say to me?
Please hire one. They are the only professionals that can guide you on your personal style, etiquette, business image and how to have leadership presence. Think image consultants for that next job interview, whenever you want to leverage your personal brand or want to have a presence.
If you were to write a letter to your younger self looking to follow this route, what would the letter entail?
Never start an idea that is not rooted in practicality.
Have you ever been a victim of a fashion faux par?
Of course, I have been. We all have been at some point in our lives. The more you learn, the more we hone our skills. And the better we become stylish rather than fashionable.
Any final words or business mantra?
No matter how much you know, or how much you think you know, there is always more to learn from.