'You have to work on yourself before anyone else'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 August, 2008, 12:00am

Building a vision for clients' image that is consistent with their values and goals is the job of Sonia Samtani, image and lifestyle consultant for Sonia Samtani Consulting

Every morning I get up and do my chakra breathing, say my affirmations and do visualisations for the day. Then I get dressed, choosing what to wear depending on what is happening that day. If I am holding a corporate workshop I wear business clothes. If I am seeing individual clients then I wear a wrap dress. And if I am hosting an event, or giving a talk, I dress formally. My passion is dressing up - I love it, so before leaving the house I enjoy spending time on my hair, make-up and the way I look even if I am only going to the gym.

My days are quite varied, sometimes I have only corporate workshops, or individual clients, or a mixture of the two, while on others I have no clients at all. A day with no clients gives me time to work on the materials for upcoming courses that I run or participate in. Right now 50 per cent of my clients are corporate and 50 per cent individual. Of the individual clients, 20 per cent are men and 80 per cent women.

I work with individual clients over a minimum of four sessions. These sessions cover areas such as colour analysis, style analysis, body language, etiquette training and communication skills.

With new clients I begin by talking to them on the telephone. Then I send them a questionnaire to complete. The information gained through both these channels gives me my first impressions of what they want to achieve.

During the first session I ask many more questions to gain a deeper understanding of their objectives. I want them to build a vision for their image that is consistent with their values and goals. I am intuitive and I can tell what fits. I also want to find out how determined and motivated they are. I want to see if they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal. Then I look at where they are right now and together we examine the gap between that, and what they want to achieve.

After the vision for the client's image is decided I start the colour analysis. From an image consultant's perspective there are three parts to colour - temperature, contrast and intensity. My client sits in front of the mirror and I use colour drapes and swatches to show them what works and what doesn't work for them. At the end of the session they take away a colour palate of the colours that suit them.

When I do the body and style analysis I work out how proportionate my client's body is in relation to his or her face length. Ideally we are eight of our own head-lengths tall. How proportionate we are determines the length of clothing we can wear. Also our body shape determines the clothing style that most suits us. A person with broad shoulders and thin hips needs to choose different dress and jacket styles from someone with broad hips and thin shoulders. I suggest ways to enhance attractive body features and camouflage aspects we find challenging. Sometimes I do personal wardrobe analysis to examine my client's wardrobe in terms of colour and style. I usually do this by creating three piles of clothes - a pile of clothes that definitely must go; a pile of clothes that must definitely be kept; and a pile of clothes that can be altered, in some way, to work better for my client.

This work has to come naturally. If it doesn't, you have to ask, are you ready? You have to work on yourself before anyone else. That's why when my trainers come to Hong Kong I always ask them: 'what's next for me?'