-- Gillian Armour, AICI CIP
Greetings members, I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy and finding some rest in this stressful time. I realize that the challenges being presented to us as professional image consultants can seem daunting and yet I also know that image consultants are strong and resilient business owners who can rise to challenges successfully.
I see hopeful signs of consultants adjusting their business models onto the internet where they can personally reach out to clients to be of help. I watch and read as the retail and fashion worlds also adjust and I take inspiration from the many who are sharing their stories of pivoting during the Covid19 crisis. Recently I jumped into a webinar interview with four retailers and learned how they are adjusting and how they plan to adjust the shopping experience for their shoppers. In many ways it’s encouraging to see how adaptations are being created and implemented. For example:
Maureen Doron of Skirt Boutique in Pennsylvania says she now has to “rely on relationships with clients and combine her marketing strategies with digital efforts.” She sends out approval boxes and uses social media to get the word out about them to clients. Approval boxes are a curated Style Box = Maureen will send you a box, you keep what you like, pay for what you like and return the rest.
The participating retailers spoke about current selling trends and a few future trends: Maureen - “Customers are asking for comfy clothes – I sold out of sweatpants. They are still going to want comfy when this is over, maybe a step up in style a bit, but occasions have been cancelled. Emotional pieces are speaking to women – things that feel special. Something that has a message, a heart, lots of color; dramatic pieces have been speaking to clients. So, both ends of the style spectrum are in demand – very casual and very special.” Paying attention to what is happening in fashion will help image consultants in the work they do going forward. Knowing that approval boxes are going to become more popular for instance means that we will need to develop a service for our clients that coordinates with style boxes. I think there are going to be some amazing new opportunities for us! Having said all of this, it occurs to me that the last issue of "Image Perspective" put out by Karen Bannister for the chapter contained priceless advice and information about how to market yourself in this new reality. If you have not read it yet please do so by visiting the chapter website “news” section. This month marks the end of my term as President of AICI WEST. I am honored that I had an incredibly talented group of ladies on my board who helped to re-ignite the chapter, plan amazing events, design a new website, and re-instate our "Image Perspective" magazine. Much has been accomplished over the past year and I am indebted to these board members. I also want to thank the membership for their support. Without all of you we could not have grown this past year. AICI WEST programs presented 18 events in eight months with 218 tickets sold! Many of you attended and participated and we are thankful for your attendance and support. The ending of my term means the beginning of Karen Bannister’s term. She has been unanimously voted in by the membership to be your next President. I have enormous confidence in her leadership skills. She and I have worked closely together this past year and share the same mind about the chapter – that it is special, has a special history within AICI and that it needs to be nurtured and kept alive. Karen has brought a high level of professionalism to her role as the VP of Communications and I know she will be bringing that same level, plus high energy, to her role as your new President. AICI WEST is very lucky to have such a talent at the helm for the 2020-2021 term. In closing I would like to tip my hat to all the 2019-2020 board members – Karen Bannister (VP Communications), Maria Draxler (Secretary), Cindy Malone (Treasurer), Jaclyn Arcuri (VP Membership), Penny Raisor (VP Programs), Vanessa Kapinski (VP Marketing/Social Media) and advisors – Mercedes Wharton, Karen Snow and Alyce Parsons, and thank them from the bottom of my heart and soul for all they have done for me and for the chapter. Gillian