The great news for Personal Stylists is that even though we can't currently offer in-person services to our clients, we can still work with them and adhere to all social distancing and lockdown protocols. The power of technology allows us to take our services online and offer virtual services so we can continue to grow our businesses and keep the money coming in. But offering virtual services is not as simple as just having a webcam and hitting connect. You'll need to modify your services and streamline them in a way that will allow you to achieve the goals of the consultation despite the confines that a virtual service can create. If you're looking to go virtual, then keep reading, as I've got the scoop to make the process easier for you!
Technology - Using reliable technology is important for virtual services. You need to have a laptop or desktop computer, using a phone is not the best way. I recommend using Zoom for your appointments as it allows you to schedule your appointments and send links to your clients to log in. It also has the option to share your screen so you can show your clients images and ideas during the consultation.
It's also important to make sure that your client has access to suitable technology for the consultation. It's better if they have access to a laptop or a tablet, but as a last resort, if they need to use their phone then make sure they have a full-length mirror so that they can show you a full view of themselves with ease.
Price - Virtual services are not as in-depth as in-person services and this needs to be reflected in your pricing. You also don't need to build in travel and mileage expenses so make sure you take this into consideration. I recommend a price that is 25% lower than in person-services. You can always increase or decrease once you gauge your market.
Services - There are some services that are easier to offer virtually than others. A style consultation or personal shopping works well, but color analysis and closet detox are a little more challenging. Don't feel you should offer them all. Create services that translate well to the virtual arena and that allow you to actually achieve the desired outcomes. Below are some tips for each service to help you get started:
Body Type Analysis/Style Consultation - Email your clients their consultation forms and questionnaires and make sure you get them back before the consultation, along with a full-length photograph. Your client will have to send you their measurements, so be sure to include instructions on how to measure so you know they're accurate. I like to create a draft consultation report before the appointment and then use the share screen option during the session to give them visual examples to go with my verbal assessment. Have your client chose a daytime and nighttime outfit that they would normally wear, and have them try them on during the session. This way you can give them a clear understanding of what's working and what's not, and how to make the changes.
Online Personal Shopping - Once again you'll need to email your consultation forms to your client. You'll also want to send them a shopping list to complete and provide their budget. I always ask my clients to send a list of their preferred stores and along with the size they usually purchase from each store. Sizing can vary so much and this is one way to try to avoid things not fitting when they arrive. Give your client at least 3 options for each item and recommend that they order 2/3 to give them options to try. They can always return what they don't want to keep. Once the items have arrived then book an online video consultation to review and give them styling tips.
Color Analysis - This is a service that can be challenging to get accurate results. This is mainly due to the differences in lighting and color settings on computers. If you want to offer this service then your accuracy will rely on your client sending you clear headshots. Photos need to be high definition and should be taken in natural light with a plain background. Your client should wear a plain white t-shirt and no make-up. If the photos aren't right, be sure to ask them to try again until you get what you need. Once you have the pictures and they've completed your client consultation forms then you can send them their analysis report along with digital swatches for them to print out and shop with.
Closet Detox/Audit - This is by far the most challenging service to take online. It's easy when you're in the room with someone but when you can't be there to start pulling things out of the closet it becomes much harder. If you want to offer this service, then I recommend that you have your client do some work upfront. Have them start the process of going through their closet and remove items that don't fit, are damaged, etc. have them section out their closet so that the same types of items are together. Determine a set number of outfits that you are going to curate during the session. Try 10-15 to build them a foundation for their wardrobe. If there is additional time remaining in the session you can work through additional items in their closet. Rather than asking my client to take the photographs of the outfits and items, I use the screenshot function on my computer, to capture the images for their report. Closet detoxes can be exhausting so don't try to do too much in one session.
One of the most important things you can do to develop and perfect your virtual styling services is to practice. Set-up consultations with family and friends and try things out until you find the best way to do things. Once you start to feel comfortable with the process then it's time to start scheduling paying clients. This may seem like a lot of work to do, but the good thing is that even when life goes back to normal you can still offer virtual services and continue to work with clients all across the globe.
Stay home, stay safe, and keep styling!
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