Girls and fashion share an old, but ever-evolving, relationship. Fashion has rightfully earned the title of “first love” for many women. Christiane Yazbeck-Hajjar is no stranger to this mutually beneficial relationship; being a wife and a mother, she decided to share her family life with her love for fashion. Opening the first-ever image consultancy in Lebanon in May 2004, Imagin has been booming with success; the secret? It’s accessible to all!
I sat down with Christiane to learn about her love affair turned business.
As an image consultant, what is it exactly that you do?
I help my clients regain and enhance their self-confidence by affirming that it is how they feel about themselves that is important. I help them discover and accept their differences and flaws; to see them as positives, rather than as something negative that needs to be changed.
When did you decide that you wanted to open an image consultancy office?
I had been volunteering and doing a lot of social work till I had enough. I wanted to start something for myself; I needed to find myself and get in touch with reality, so I traveled to the United States and to France, did my professional training there and came back to Lebanon to open my first office four years ago.
What do you hope to achieve with this endeavor?
Image consultancy is usually available for VIP’s and celebrities. I wanted to break that routine and redefine the boundaries of accessibility. Image is important to everyone, so I decided to make it affordable and available to people from all backgrounds and cultures.
Do you intend to spread your offices to other countries?
Yes. Actually I am currently collaborating with another image consultancy firm in Dubai. It is run by a British woman and I am even planning on opening more of my services in Jordan, Qatar, Syria and Bahrain.
How do you go about dressing a woman?
The most important thing is to study the shape of the face, we define the patterns and features. Then we move to the body but we do not dress according to height and weight; these two figures don’t matter at all; we simply take measurements to see proportions and we work according to that.
Do you, one-to-one contact with your clients?
Of course! Clients don’t only come to my office, on occasion, I also go to their homes, especially if we are working on how to manage their wardrobe.
It is very important to only have items in your closet that suit you. So when I go to my client’s homes, we make a list to see what is missing, the basic clothes and then we head to the shops! Basically, by doing this, we teach our clients not only how to shop, but also how to choose between colors and styles.
Do you have a specific range of clients?
To tell you the truth, our clients include young University students, new graduates, upper-level management personnel, politicians and even celebrities; although I would rather not work with the celebrities…
Do you work with big corporate companies?
Yes, I work with a lot of corporate companies. I give trainings to the big and small individuals; I teach them all about eye contact, to body language, business etiquette and communication.
Have you ever been put in an awkward yet daring position?
Yes, but just one time. A Saudi man wanted me to change his wife’s looks, which may sound quite normal but he wanted me to make her look trashy and common. I had to run around like crazy searching for the cheap and vulgar shops. I wasn’t proud at all and I wasn’t satisfied because this is not how I work.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to the readers?
Like and love yourself; accept your differences; you can turn a fault into a quality if you know how. Look at yourself in a positive way and learn how to use fashion. There is this quote which I love “style never goes out of fashion”; I love fashion and I use fashion but I am not a victim. A person should have a slight touch of what is in fashion; when you look at yourself, you see yourself, and not a person in disguise.
(Interview done in 2008)