Business Rx: How to stand out in a sea of stylists?

Special to Capital Business
Monday, July 19, 2010

The entrepreneur Monica Barnett has always been into fashion, and she has a knack for understanding what clothing works -- and doesn't -- for different body shapes. For years she had been the go-to style consultant for friends, family and co-workers who needed help pulling outfits together. Barnett had been running an informal image consulting service on the side since 2003. Two years ago, she formalized Blueprint for Style, a Washington-based image consulting, personal styling and branding company, and began doing what she loves full time when she quit her health-care job in June 2009.

Her philosophy follows the wisdom of her high-school soccer coach, who used to make his players clean their cleats before every game with the reasoning that "if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good." Barnett hopes the success of her business will allow her the flexibility to devote some of her time to working with young children to teach them about self-image.

The pitch


"With a mission to refine and cultivate men, women and businesses, Blueprint for Style is about maintaining key relationships that harvest stylish and personalized solutions.

"Blueprint for Style services fall into four major areas: style consultations and wardrobe assessments; closet overhauls; personal brand development and outfit creation; and personal shopping and style management.

"My target market is men and women, ages 27-59, with a sense of personal style and appreciation for culture. I have clients across the country -- most are in Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C."

The problem


"In this economic environment, how can I create a value proposition to let people know that their image is what can give them the competitive advantage? My biggest challenge is to expand the network of the 'right' people that know about Blueprint for Style. And following that, how do I differentiate myself in that market? There's a sea of other D.C. stylists and image consultants who do this in their spare time or on the side."

The advice

Judy Frels, marketing faculty lecturer and executive director of marketing communications at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

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