Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

How to choose an Image Mentor

By Katherine Lazaruk on Jun 21 2010 • Filed under Image Intensive

Mentors are defined as those who serve as teachers, trusted counselors, guides and wise advisers. Over your lifetime, many people may serve as mentors, but how many of them are able to help you with your personal image development? It’s easy to find someone to ‘look up to’ but how will you adapt their style to yours? Though they may give you advice, how will you know it’s technically correct? If you’re looking for ways to enhance your overall image, here are five questions to ask when choosing your image mentor:

1. What are your qualifications?

There is currently no government regulation on the image industry, which means that anyone can hang out a shingle and say they are an image consultant. Buyers beware! If you are looking for a professional advocate, ask your potential consultant what training, certificates and professional designations they currently have. The Association for Image Consultants International (AICI) certifies consultants at three levels: FLC (First Level Certification), CIP (Certified Image Professional) and CIM (Certified Image Master). AICI-certified consultants have passed a comprehensive exam, submitted a portfolio of work and signed a Code of Ethics in order to gain a designation. Protect yourself and find out if your potential consultant is qualified to offer you an unbiased opinion based on technical knowledge and not strictly on intuition, a ‘good eye’ or ‘some self-study.’

2. What is your background?

Ideally your consultant should be objective, but their background could affect their opinions. For example, if your consultant has a fashion background, they may be terrific at trends. If your consultant has a teaching background, they may be excellent at teaching you what you need to know. If they have a makeup artistry background, they will have great tips on skin care and makeup application. Their backgrounds may serve you well in certain situations, but not in others. Ask how they came to be in the industry; the answer will often reveal their level of commitment to their business and to you.

"…many people may serve as mentors, but how many of them are able to help you with your personal image development?"

3. What is your level of experience?

Some consultants work part-time in the industry, some do the work as a hobby and some are full-time consultants. Some are very experienced and others, while newer, might have better training, more recent knowledge or higher qualifications. You want to be sure that your consultant is able to fulfill your requirements.

4. What is the focus of your image practice?

Many consultants specialize in certain areas such as wardrobing, etiquette, business image or presentation skills. You’ll need to decide whether you want a well-rounded generalist, or if you need someone with specialized training or experience.

5. What is your process of working with your clients?

This is the final and most important question to ask. If you are a person who requires time to make decisions, prefers information in small bites and wants to learn some skills, it would be best to choose a consultant with a clearly outlined step-by-step process that takes some time. If you are someone who ‘just wants to get it done’ and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time in the process, then a consultant who has already dealt with deadline-oriented clients would be more appropriate.

Above all, you must feel completely comfortable with your choice of consultant, so do your homework to be sure that your choice is the very best. Find a consultant who is able to communicate clearly, listen well, match your learning style and teach you what you need to know and you will be in an excellent place to develop your image on your own terms.


  1. I like this image consultant career how do i start?

    • Hi Molade,

      A great way to start is by doing some research on the career itself. Check out for information. If you’ve done your research, perhaps taken a course or two at a local college and practiced on a few people, you might be ready to take the leap into a full career as a consultant. At this point (or sooner), you may want to take some intensive courses with a qualified trainer. I highly recommend Karen Brunger of the International Image Institute in Ontario, Canada, for her holistic approach to image, extensive experience in the field and generous nature. After you’ve completed your training, get your business identity ready with cards and a website. Practice on some paying clients and finally, get certified. The exam guidelines are posted on the AICI site and there is also information there about the various levels of certification. After that, you’re well on your way to a career in image consulting. It’s a lot of hard work, but worth it. Good luck!

  2. These are important guidelines. Finding a certified image consultant through AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) also ensures that your image mentor is engaged in quite a lot of continuing education every year. Remember, a good image consultant can help you project the right image to enhance your career.

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