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.