Dimapur, April 8 (EMN): Image consulting is a growing professional field that works at improving the image of clients personally or professionally by developing personality aspects such as appearance, behaviour, and communication. It’s all about, simply put, making people ‘look good.’
The most visible presence the field has is in entertainment, fashion and show business, and the corporate. It is in the glitz of this profession that a damsel from the rugged hills of Nagaland has made a home to help people develop their image and personality. Her name is Keren Kavi Sumi, a model from Nagaland who has made Mumbai her second home.
Sumi runs an institute, Keren Sumi Image Consultancy Studio, in the country’s commercial centre. An image consultant specialises in personal appearance, etiquette, verbal and non-verbal communication. It counsels individuals and grooms in fashion, communication and behavioural skills among others, through individual consultations, workshops, and seminars.
‘Some of you may think that visiting an image consultant will mean being told what not to wear or what to wear. This most definitely is not my way of working with you,’ she explains.
‘We may discover certain colours or shapes aren’t the most flattering on you but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear them. We find the best way for you to wear clothes you love.’
According to Sumi, her parents gave her the foundation of good upbringing which led her to ambitions to give back to society in any way she could. The environment of her loving family made her also wonder about the plight of the not-so-fortunate and the need to do more for them.
Karen Sumi explained that ‘some modelling’ and winning beauty pageants put her in a position to think about what opportunity she could take advantage of to ‘better myself’ and further her ambition to do good.
‘At this stage, l realised that I had to travel out of Nagaland to achieve what I wanted, to be an ‘image consultant’ and bring back my knowledge to impart amongst the girls of Nagaland who were unable to have the finances to get such opportunities and exposure,’ she said.
But why Mumbai?
‘We are at a disadvantage because of limited financial resources and jobs as well are not easily available. We need to travel to other states for work in order to substitute our income,’ says Sumi. ‘But we have to be competitive and qualified. I hope to be a small part of this process.’
Initially, it was euphoric for her to be working outside Nagaland. But she was not prepared to face unfortunate encounters particularly discrimination that people from the Northeast face—being put in a certain category due to ignorance about the Northeast people.
‘I not only felt like a foreigner in my own country but felt alienated with a sense of disconnect and indifference. It is sad that this ignorance gives rise to racism, racist ideologies, and we are treated like minority,’ recounts a saddened Sumi.
Nonetheless, her aim in life led her through a series of jobs and a lot of travel. Thankfully, it was always related to her eventually qualifying to be an image consultant, modelling assignments, and beauty pageants, grooming classes, and makeovers and beauty workshops.
With a whole lot of practical knowledge and a fair idea about how the industry works she enrolled at the Image Consulting Business Institute (ICBI) in Mumbai in the year 2014. It was there that Sumi learned about the finer points of image management and soft skills for personal and professional success.
With a sense of being more confident Sumi attended workshops at Wasan Knowledge Hub during which she trained under the famous Ritika Ramtri Studio in Pune and an even more famous Gladrags Academy under the guidance of the diva of style Maureen Wadia in modelling, grooming, and personality.
Coaches, whether in sport, life or fitness, do not choose to become coaches by default. They develop a sense identifying and prodding at the right places to bring out the best in their students.’
Similarly, she says, an image consultant will not tell you what to do and what to wear. They work at ‘your comfort levels to raise your confidence and to put you in an environment where you get used to your own personality, albeit with a few changes,’ Sumi said.
‘I have coached aspiring models, businessmen, office workers, and even children. And many didn’t expect the changes they underwent once they completed the course. This is because they were unaware that there existed a world which opens up once the people’s perception of you changes. Almost instantly, your perception of the world changes as well,’ the image consultant explained.
Sumi now runs image consulting besides about to complete school in etiquette and manners in Mumbai. It is also available in Dimapur.
‘I include special training for my fellow Northeast peoples to get initiated into other parts of the country and the world. While I mentioned about the challenges in working outside Northeast, I must mention that we are often identified as interesting and exotic, and generally very attractive.
The consultant’s time in Mumbai and Pune has given her enough insights into how to deal with overt attention, chauvinism, and prejudice, she says. ‘Dealing with this sudden change can be a shock and can completely shake your confidence.’
Loaded with the knowledge and experience Karen Kavi Sumi has set out to grow in the career she has now chosen.
That said, Sumi expresses a desire to impart to others, especially her fellow Nagas, all that she has learned and not ‘waste’ her experience and knowledge. That way, she said, they can be ready to face challenges and the world.