Guest Post by Diane Barnes: Marla Celebrates 25 Years as an Image Consultant

In June 2015, I realized my good friend Marla Tomazin has been an image consultant for 25 years. In many cases, milestones like this aren’t acknowledged, much less celebrated (and celebrating others is actually one of Marla’s strongest attributes).

Twenty-five years in business is a huge accomplishment, particularly given how competitive the NYC fashion industry is. It got me thinking: How did Marla not only survive, but thrive, in a tough market and through several tough economies? As one of Marla’s clients from the beginning (and for many years now, her good friend as well), I’ve been privileged to observe what makes her stand out—and what keeps a steady stream of clients requesting her services.

Here are some of the secrets to Marla’s success:

Marla makes “being stylish” simple and doable. For those of us who aren’t in the fashion industry, “style” can sometimes seem like a foreign language that we don’t completely understand. But Marla makes it simple and doable. Instead of giving clients a long list of fashion rules and creating interesting but complicated outfits, she teaches clear, easy-to-apply strategies, like column dressing and making sure all of your clothing is well tailored. There is no greater satisfaction than wearing an outfit you put together yourself and having several people admiringly compliment you on the way you look. When you listen to Marla’s suggestions, you get these kinds of compliments all the time.

She’s good at giving advice. When you hire Marla, you know that your image needs some improvement—but that doesn’t mean you want to be criticized. Luckily, Marla is a master at giving advice, suggesting changes, and even disagreeing in a way that doesn’t make you feel bad. Instead, you walk away feeling like you’ve learned a lot and like you’ve been collaborating with a close friend. She is an expert communicator. She delivers compliments and constructive criticism in an even tone with back-up and substance. You really listen to her “must-haves” and “don’t-dos.”

She’s hands-on. No matter what aspect of your image you hire Marla to help with, she really gets in the trenches with you. She’ll dive into a dirty closet, help you pick out frames at the optician’s, and look through the racks of clothes at a boutique. Marla doesn’t just tell you what works; she shows you—and makes sure you understand how to replicate that success.

She’s interested in you as a person, not just as a client. Marla doesn’t just take your physical appearance into account when you hire her as an image consultant. She also takes the time to get to know you: your preferences, your likes and dislikes, your lifestyle, your goals for the future, etc. That’s what makes her great at choosing pieces that flatter your body, reflect your personality, and make you feel confident—or as Marla says, “the best version of the true you.”

To Marla, “image” is about a lot more than the clothes in your closet. I would venture to say that most people hire Marla because they want to refine and improve their wardrobes. But they get so much more. Marla understands that a positive image is built through finding mind-body-spirit balance, so her clients also benefit from her insight on topics ranging from mindfulness to principles of effective communication to how to rejuvenate yourself when you’re feeling stressed. When you work with Marla, expect for her to make your life better!

She isn’t stingy with best practices. Marla freely shares her best practices with clients and non-clients alike. She genuinely wants to help and doesn’t treat her tips and advice as proprietary information. (Just look through this blog for free fashion advice, information on closet organization, packing tips and tricks, recipes, product recommendations, and more!)

She goes to the “mat” with you. We have often shopped together to find something special for a big event, trade show, wedding, etc., and these occasions can often be emotionally charged, time sensitive, and with zero margin for error. Recently, Marla made sure a certain designer dress, which came in the wrong size, was exchanged. She was consistent in her follow-up with the manufacturer to make sure it was right. She was unfailing in her analysis of the problem, and she creatively worked through the “fix.” The ultimate success of this transaction was due to Marla’s solution-driven approach and not taking no for an answer. I am very happy with the end result.

Once you work with Marla, you’re a friend for life. I’m definitely not Marla’s only client who has made the transition to “friend.” There are many of us who now plan lunch dates with Marla, shop with her (for fun!), and receive birthday cards and calls from her.

For many years, I have always been excited on the days we would go out together and look at wholesale showrooms for new fashions. I now have a wardrobe of long-standing, classic, well- made, and interesting clothes made with quality fabrics. Over time, this collection of easily wearable, but architecturally distinctive outfits has helped create “my brand.” I am happy to say that Marla has curated my investments in good clothing to a point where I now feel deep satisfaction when I open the closet door. This says it all.

All of these things explain why Marla gets so much repeat business and so many referrals, and why her business continues to thrive. While it’s nice to live in a world of department stores and two-day shipping, we still crave personalized attention, consideration, and validation. And that’s what Marla Tomazin does best.

14 comments

  1. Love this Marla….You have made such a difference in so many peoples lives. What a great career you have had. Just love working with you.

    Aileen

  2. This is truly amazing! Congratulations Marla for creating and loving your vocation! It’s been wonderful being your friend and client!!

  3. Terrific description of all of Marla’s attributes and her sharing of her knowledge. It is always a pleasure to be in Marla’s company. And, it is always a good day when I have been the benefit of her expert advice. I have never met anyone quite like Marla. She is special.

  4. What an accurate and heartfelt “testimonial” to all that Marla brings to her business, her clients and her life. Marla has always put her all into her work, and invested no small amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to where she is today. But this milestone is more than a celebration of her business success. It’s a celebration of who she is, her passion for what she does, and her commitment to truly making a difference — even in a small way — in the lives of those fortunate enough to know her. I count my lucky stars to be included in this circle. Cheers to you, Miss M!

    1. Congratulations on 25 years as an Image Consultant! What a wonderful article! You are so good at what you do and it shows!

  5. Congratulations Marla! A wonderful article, from both professional and personal stand point. Wishing you great continued success! Julie Marshall

  6. I read your latest Marla Says and the guest post by Diane Barnes. It was a very special tribute and clearly defines all that you do but also all that you are.
    A very special woman.
    Having known you for many more years than Worth’s 25 and your 25 years as a stylist, I feel we have had a very special and unique journey together. It has been an honor to know you and through Worth to get to know you better.
    Thanks for all of your hard work and loyalty to Worth and thanks for our special friendship for all these years.
    It’s been quite a journey.
    Congratulations and may you have many more years of doing what you love to do best help other women.
    Jay

  7. Diane, thank you for writing about Marla’s many gifts and particularly how she so generously shares her knowledge, taste, and advice with those of us who don’t have her breadth and depth of experience. She deserves the acknowledgement more than anyone I know.

    I was certainly naive to the fashion world on that day we met descending a hill in Vermont in big old hiking boots and with our jackets tied around our waists. We started a conversation but there were no simple pleasantries about it. Instead, right out of the gun, we talked about life and loving, friends’ passing, therapy, standards for living, the people and things that make us laugh, and every other thing you could imagine. Over the next 25 years Marla took me into her fashion world, helping me feel better about the way I looked and becoming more confident about myself and all the choices I make for my life. I love looking good in the clothes Marla encourages me to buy but — even more — I appreciate that she is a friend who has my back any time and all the time. She has earned and will always have my love and respect for all that she is, personally, professionally, and spiritually.

    Kathie

  8. Diane….what a wonderful tribute and testimony to celebrate Marla’s 25th anniversary. I have known Marla for 50 years….we are still close friends. You are spot on with everything you have shared about Mar. She is always purpose driven. Her career is truly her calling. The fact that she is interested in her clients and wants to understand them is such an asset.

  9. Dear Marla,
    When I saw your 25th year success story, I said “of course” you have great personal style and humor , and a keen eye for what looks best on body types. I have to be the one person outside of New York, who saw your beginning dedication to what you have “People Power”! We worked together in Dallas Texas, you as the leader of a fabulous fashion house, I watched and learned
    your kind effective way of dealing with Owners of fashion store, everyone left that showroom Happy.
    I’m delighted to be one of your long time fans, I’m proud, like an older sister to say congrats
    on this wonderful occasion.” The on who treasures her friends is usually soiled gold herself” and you are.
    Your friend, Chris Kase

  10. Dear Marla,
    I just read the article from Diane and no one could have stated it more accurately than she did. She did not miss one thing about your commitment to your work, your style, and your ethics in the way you perform in your business. I have known you for at least 30 years and have always been proud to think of you in how you managed to stay on top of things when things may have been easy just to give up when the Fashion Industry turned in the early 90’s. I have always known one of your strong suits is your persistence to never give up and to keep reinventing who you are. It takes more than just working hard to get to where you are. You have taken the time to gone inward to complete you as a woman as well. I am so proud to be in your circle of friends.
    Congratulations Marla, Julie

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