After I scheduled lunch with Leslee Hill, I panicked. You see, Hill is the president of Hill Image Consulting, and I was convinced that nothing in my closet would meet with her approval.
I should have known better.
Not only is Hill one of the nicest, most positive people I’ve ever met, but she also had no intention of judging my clothes. She’s out to accomplish a much bigger mission. “It’s not about making someone look good,” Hill emphatically states. “It’s about making someone feel good about the way she looks.”
In establishing Hill Image Consulting, Hill has found her passion. Her affinity for fashion led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design, after which her career took her to Spiegel Catalog Co., Icelandic Design, Vera Bradley and The Good Ones. Eventually, however, she realized she wanted to run her own company, and guidance from mentors and friends helped her discover that she has a particular talent for bringing out the best in others.
Q1: How did you decide to launch Hill Image Consulting?
Over the course of my career, the more I started making decisions, the more I felt like I was doing it right. As I matured, I started to realize that I really did know what I was doing, and that gave me confidence. I realized that I wanted to start my own business, but I wasn’t sure what, specifically, I wanted to do. I started working with Toni Widman, who connected me to several wonderful women to mentor me. After three of those people told me – independently! – that I should be an image consultant, I decided to look into it. I researched it, did a couple of trial runs on friends, and decided to become certified. Three years in, I know hands-down that I love doing this.
Q2: What does an image consultant do?
People think I just help them pick out clothes, but that’s not true. Image consulting is so much more than just the outside! I help my clients identify who they want to be and how they want to be perceived by others; I have a whole series of exercises to facilitate this. When people start thinking of themselves in these terms, it changes the way they do everything: how they speak, how they shop, how they answer the phone and so on. Then I can help them find the right styles to enhance the image they’ve already started to project.
Q3: Isn’t restyling a wardrobe expensive?
It doesn’t have to be! I can work with anyone’s budget, big or small. One of the great things about Fort Wayne is that you can find things to make you look amazing at really affordable prices. I often help clients find wonderful pieces at consignment shops like Clothes Mentor. The first thing I do, though, is start in my clients’ own closets. We work with what they already have to see what we can combine into new and refreshed outfits. Many times that’s all it takes. Of course, it is always fun to go shopping and create clothing combinations they may not have thought of or had the confidence to try on their own.
Q4: What’s your best advice to someone going shopping for clothes?
You’ve got to know yourself and who you want to be. What adjectives describe that? Everyone has a budget, so when you’re trying to make choices, only try on the pieces that hit those adjectives. Then, buy the pieces you can’t stop thinking about, the ones you want to run out and show people right away. And don’t forget: quality matters. Good fabrics will lie better on your body, and they hold up. If budget is an issue, look for nice brands at consignment stores.
Q5: What do you find most challenging about your business?
Oh my goodness! There is so much head trash around body image. We get stuck in thinking we have to lose weight or change something before we can look good. That is so wrong! I think you can look amazing at any size. I have found that when people let me work with them to find their style, they start to feel more confident. They start to look at themselves differently, and all of a sudden, they’re invested in themselves again. In many cases, that even leads them to start making the changes that were holding them back in the first place!