Today I am going to introduce you to one of the most respected Image Consultants in Argentina; I am talking about Sandy Cornejo, founder of CE Imagen, company that she created 10 years ago with her partner and friend María Pía Estebecorena.
1. How did you decide to make the switch from psychology to Image Consulting?
I studied clinical psychology and after certain time, I decided that it was not what I wanted to do; that I needed to do something totally different, so I started to do makeup for brides and special events. After a while, I realized that what I was doing was not enough neither … One day, watching the movie “The Kid” where the main character is an Image Consulting, I decided that I wanted to do that, exactly that! So I can mix the external (esthetic) with the internal (psychology). I started to study many different courses about Image consulting, because back then the career didn’t exist, people didn’t even understand what was the image consulting. Later I met María Pía, that was working in her own event marketing company and she hired me as a make-up artist, so … I told her the idea, she loved it, and we found CE Imagen.
2. Did you started alone? Or since the very beginning was CE Imagen?
Since the very beginning I was with María Pía, it is a funny story because her company was CE (Compañía de Eventos – Event company) so we started doing Image consulting under the same name, and after a while we decided to change the meaning of CE to “Cornejo Estebecorena” (our last names). But the coincidence was that our last names were just the initials of company name … funny things had happened to us since the very beginning and we really believe on that. We believe in the power of word because we have seen how it works. We used to say, … “imagine having our CE building …” and look at us now, we are in our CE building, it took us 10 years, but we did it!
3. Why do you think people hire and image consulting?
I believe that is because they are not happy with their selves, they realize that her image (what other people see) is not what they really are, and then they decided to change it.
4. Do you think there is a specific issue that makes us feel that we need an image consulting?
Yes, normally are situations related with self-esteem. Maybe the person is getting divorced, or just dating someone new, or they just loose their jobs, or they try to keep the one they have … there is always a reason that makes you want to look better.
5. Do you have more clients that are women? Or men?
I have both, but they are quite different. The men usually comes asking for help to improve their image and the reason is always related to their job, they want to be successful, or look powerful, etc. Women are more conscious about their personal issues, they usually come because they want to change their appearance to be successful in their personal life.
6. Knowing that you are a psychologist … what do you think people are more concerned about, their internal or their external image?
I don’t think we can separate that, both things are linked. Many times, people feel bad about something and they just don’t care about how they look, or … they care too much about their image and that could be also because they feel bad internally. I believe people are more conscious about how they look than how they feel. Now, people do what they can do, sometimes they go to the hairdresser to have a haircut trying to feel better … it all depends. We have clients that come after having therapy, because they feel better and want to look better. There is a certain energy that is required to get ready every morning and look good, if you are not ok internally it is very possible that you will not have that energy and then you will have no motivation to look good.
7. What do you think about the new parameter of “perfect bodies”?
Very good question, it is one of my personal crusades. I think that having the image of a perfect body and not being able to get it, cause a lot of frustration and suffering. It is just impossible to look like models or celebrities that have a huge team dedicated to make them perfects (body, hair, nails, clothes and even how to behave). For example, here in Argentina Susana Giménez and Mirtha Legrand, are very old and both look amazing everywhere and that is not real. The new perfect bodies are the result of surgeries, silicon and botox. I believe there is a psychological cost of not having a perfect body, proportions are distorted, people don’t get that, if you are thin your body will be according to that, it is just impossible to have a lot of bust and butt if you are thin … we try to help our clients to be realistic and accept their selves the way they are. I am very concern about it …
8. What do you think is more important to define in a client: color, style or body proportions? And why?
Defining the color for their skin is very important because they can look younger and happier or sad and older … but also it is important to know your body proportions because then you will know which clothes are best for you and it doesn’t matter if it is cheap or expensive, you can look good with out expending a lot of money. The style definition is important but, it is the last thing to care … the client will express their style if they look and feel good in their clothes.
9. What has been your hardest challenge?
Working with people recovering of cancer (chemotherapy) and with people with overweight. The women recovering of cancer has no hair, no eyebrows and on top of that they are going through a very complex moment. But you know what? The satisfaction of helping them to feel as they were feeling before getting sick is amazing, it worth it! Regarding the people with overweight, it has been difficult because the Argentinean market didn’t help us, before, there were no stores that offered big sizes, then only two stores and one was very expensive and the other was not good. Just now there are more stores so it is easier to help this kind of clients.
10. How can we identify a good Image Consulting?
First of all they project in their own image that they know how to do it, not only about the esthetic but also their posture, their confidence. Second, a real professional has to be able to justify every single thing that they suggest you, don’t trust of the one who keep telling you that things are that way “cos they say so” … And third, they always have to give you something new, maybe is a new way to combine your clothes, I don’t know … something different. They have to give value to the client.
11. It is possible to be a good Image Consulting with out being psychologist?
Yes, the thing is to be empathic with your client, flexible and never impose your opinion. You don’t have to make your client feel bad or humiliated, you have to be empathic trying to understand why they want to change, put yourself in their shoes. There is never the same situation for some one who broke up a relationship, than someone who just starts dating. It is important to take care of what you say and how you say it. This is not therapy but we have to listen very carefully, and if we think there are some issues they have to take care of, then we can send them to the shrink. In summary, I don’t think you have to be a shrink but you have to know about this topic.
12. Here in CE Imagen you teach image consulting and you also do Image consulting. What do you like to do more?
Mmhhh …. (Thinking for a while) I like to teach and educate. But also doing image consulting is great, because you help people to increase their self-esteem. If I have to choose I think teaching is what I like the most, people learn and have fun.
13. You’ve just opened the Argentinean chapter of AICI. What are the plans for 2012?
Of course we want to make it grow. The objective is to have the certification because it will help to our profession. To obtain the certification people has to do an exam and then it is a requirement to renewal it every two years which implies that you have to keep updating, teaching, writing articles, etc. I think is very important to have the certification in Argentina because then you will be able to differentiate between a professional Image Consulting and those that are less serious. It is very important to make people understand that to become an Image Consulting you have to study is not something improvised.
And before we go …
How do you define the style in a woman? Which things define it?
“Style is the esthetic expression of our personality”. That is how I define style. For example, if a person has romantic style, it is very possible that they will be tender, delicate and never aggressive. If another person use animal print, that means she is sexy, more aggressive and more out there. It is important to dress accordingly to what you feel, not following fashion necessarily. That’s why sometimes you change your style during your life, because you change how you feel with age.
Can you give an advice to all the entrepreneurs that are just starting?
First of all I will tell them to be really convinced of what they want to do, so they can ignore all the people who are going to tell them that they just can’t do it. It is important to do a market research to understand why are they going to buy me and not another? This is important for image consulting business and also for a corner store, everyone should do it.
Also, they will have to be prepared because being an entrepreneur is not easy, you have to be persistent and tenacious. You have to be prepare your self to fall and get up many times. This job is a “full life” job not just a “full time” job. You have to forget about weekends and holidays. If we asked María Pía, she will make emphasis in the financials and the business plan, that is also important, but I am more creative so for me the more important thing is to be prepare to work a lot! Is learning to live with out a fix salary, feeling insecure and keep thinking what to do? But then, with time, you get establish and you start to feel more secure and things get better but … it’s difficult to get organized! It could be very frustrating! Sometimes if you have an idea, you talk to 10 people, 9 say that they are not interested and the other one steal it! It’s complicated! It is very typical that until now, people says that being and Image consulting is not a profession, so I keep struggling trying to make people to respect my job.
If you want to study Imaga Consulting visit the web of CE Image, you will find different options and seminars.
This post is also available in: Spanish