From beauty queen to image consultant

By IAfrica
In Nigeria News Feed
Feb 1st, 2014
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Ifeoma Williams former Miss Lux, now an image consultant speaks to Adetorera Idowu about her love for consulting and how she set up Fruition Image consulting.

What’s the focus of your company, Fruition Image?

The umbrella of image consulting is very broad. Fruition image is the holistic image consultancy. This umbrella covers; public relations, media relations, personal image enhancement, corporate group training, personality brand management, etiquette and everything that can help show an individual or corporate organisation in a positive light. An image consultant helps you put your best foot forward and our focus is to be holistic.

How would you describe your life as an image consultant?

I would say it is heeding God’s call for my life. I started out as a lawyer but growing up I was known for packaging and putting people together, be it the way you look or if you’re asked a question. I would say “That’s too many words, say it in 3 or 4 words” I was the family copyrighter. It came to me naturally, and I readily transitioned from my legal career into it. You know what they say about monetizing your passion. I’m blessed to be in image consulting.

What was the journey like to where you are now?

It’s been a very interesting and eventful one but I guess when you’re passionate about and believe in something you’ll stick with it. Image consulting was very new when I started 7years ago and at the time I knew only two certified image consultants; myself and someone else. When I wanted to leave my career to go into image consulting, I remember my father saying “You want to leave law to go tell people how to carry shoe and bag?” So I had to explain further. When I came back from my training, people called me a stylist because the initial thing I did was fashion and fashion styling. I had to educate a lot of people on the fact that, styling is a miniscule part of image consulting. But even though styling was what I started with, it caught on because Nigerians are very fashion forward. It’s been an interesting journey, a gradual process and I’m very proud of the fact that I have risen in my career. Currently, I’m President-elect of Associate of Image Consultants International (AICI) – Nigeria Chapter. I also like the fact that the pioneer image consultants and I opened the gateway for the many young fashion stylists and image consultants. My advice to fashion stylists is; though it comes naturally and every man and his purse is a stylist, styling is an art and getting training will actually enhance your God-given talents. My advice to them is; get trained and join the association.

Who are your major clients?

I do not like to mention names so that one client does not feel less special. The industries we service are the banking industry, entertainment, media, fashion and lifestyle as well as top corporate executives. As a former lawyer myself, we have started doing a lot of corporate training on etiquette for the legal community.

Can you tell us a few of the challenges you’ve faced on the job?

Number one challenge is infrastructure. Number two is that though Nigerians are very knowledgeable, they do not understand concepts. So when you say to someone “I want to enhance your image” They think it’s such a simplistic thing and don’t believe they should pay for that service. Nigerians generally do not understand paying for services but when you spend time with an image consultant and they help you work on your image, you’ll see that it’s a service worth paying for because you can tell the difference post image consulting.

What are the strategies you’ve employed to overcome some of these challenges?

Infotainment basically, because the world is very visual. I simply kept my prospective clients informed of the benefits. It’s advertising of sorts. Thank God for social media. This makes it easier to inform your would-be clients of the benefits. I wrote a lot of proposals, it wasn’t just text, there were pictures and things to show, I held a lot of talks and I think over time people now realized that there was really something to look into with image consulting.

So what was the turning point?

I would say I’ve been quite lucky. But the turning point was the day I gave my first talk. It’s been a life of blessings. After my first talk, people started to invite me.

What are your tips on how we can exude a professional image?

My number one advice is, be true to yourself. My number one style guide is that trend and fashion do not equate to style and as Yves Saint Laurent said, fashion fades but style is eternal. Not every trend will suit you. It is alright to stay with classic and timeless trends. Know what suits you and stick with it
Number 2 and most importantly, learn to highlight your assets and conceal your flaws. If you have k-legs, you cannot wear skirt above the knee cap. It won’t work. If you stutter, public speaking might be difficult, so work on it by slowing down your pace and speech and you’ll become better at it. Know your body type, stick to your style preference and buy classic pieces not trends. For other tips you should be speaking to Fruition.

What are some of the memorable moments you’ve had in Fruition and your personal life?

As I say watch this space, because a remarkable one will be before the end of the year. But some of the memorable moments in the past were; when we moved to our office in Lekki, when we single handedly organized the First Lagos carnival queen competition in 2010, when we spoke at the RISE Network organized by Toyosi Akerele in 2007. There have been too many memorable moments.
In my personal life, the days that I gave birth to both my children, the day I won the LUX competition, and the day I took the leap of faith to become an image consultant.

Do you think winning the Miss Lux Competition shot you to limelight?

It did shoot me to limelight, albeit at an early age. It also has its pros and cons, but I would say it did help because, when you are known, people want to know what it is you’re doing, so it did help my career.

Do you have any mentors?

I have many mentors. My father, Mr Tunde Ezichi is one of my mentors. My other mentors are, Mr. Yemi Candide Johnson SAN, My life coach, Mr Lanre Olusola. Someone I admire greatly would be Mo Abudu who is also a very good friend and Mrs Gbemi Sasore, an older sister, a mentor and a friend.

Out of all these people who has had the greatest influence on your life?

My father- I’m an orator like my dad, public speaking because I watched my dad compère events when I was a child. The comedian side of me came from my father as well. My father is straight in his dealings in life and I think that I got that from him as well. He is generally someone I admire. He is in his 60s and he doesn’t look one day over 40. So I think the image side of things was greatly influenced by him. My father is also a great fashion lover with impeccable taste even at his age.

Beauty pageants are gradually fading out, what do you think is the reason for that?

I don’t think they are fading out, I think that their style is changing because I’m involved in a few of them, pageants are becoming more cerebral and there’s now a focus and it’s beyond just the entertainment. Crowned beauty queens are now indeed ambassadors. When we sift the shaft from the wheat, what would stand out are the truly substantial beauty competitions because people are not just looking for physical beauty anymore, they are looking for voices in this generation.

If you had to advice young women, what would you tell them?

I’ll say that experience is not the best teacher, but other people’s experiences are the greatest teacher. I’d say listen more than you speak and be patient and prayerful. A good name is always priced over mundane worth and you’ll discover in the long run as Solomon said that ‘all is vanity’. So if you pursue your dreams, only that which you sow shall you reap. This law holds true, when you always remember that and you pursue your dreams, you’ll see that in good time, what you have worked for will come to you.

How do you maintain work life balance?

Through the grace of God and a conscious effort. To maintain work-life balance, you have to be deliberate and make up your mind on when you will work and when you’ll relax. As an image consultant, I can only portray a holistic physical image if my mind, body and soul are intact and the only way I can make sure of this is to give each aspect of my life time. There are other people in my life, like my family and I need to spend time with them. I must differentiate between me-time, work-time and their-time

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