Founder & President: Starla West (AICI FLC)
We’re not obsessed with image. We’re obsessed with what it can do for you.
Age ten was when she first became aware of the power of image management.
“It all started when I was ten years old. I was at a dress rehearsal for our annual dance recital with the Florence Cizek Dance Academy. When it was time for my mother’s class to rehearse, my father and I sat in the audience and watched. Soon after the music began, he pointed to one dancer and told me to watch her and only her. After a few moments, he then pointed to my mother along with two other members of her class, Barb and Delana, and said, ‘Now, watch those three ladies.’
It didn’t take long to realize Barb, Delana and my mother were much more entertaining. All four ladies were executing the same dance steps; however only three were truly performing!
A conversation then ensued between my father and me regarding the difference between a dancer and a performer. Dancers simply execute movement. However, performers perform! They use facial expressions, body language and energy to share emotions and tell stories. Add in the effective use of costumes, makeup and hair and a whole story is communicated without a dancer ever saying a word! (Think Nutcracker or Swan Lake.)
That was the moment I realized everything communicates and communication beyond the spoken word is powerful! The people we are drawn to – the ones who capture and maintain our attention – are those who use more than just words to communicate. They have the whole package and are (figuratively speaking) human magnets. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with how we use our appearance, behavior and communication skills to influence how others perceive us.”
After graduating from the University of Evansville, Starla entered Corporate America where she enjoyed 15 successful years of experience in various image management roles.
“It was my first job right out of college where I had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the strategic use of a customer’s five senses to manage how he or she felt about our organization. We knew EVERYTHING mattered – from the color of our logo to the appearance of our employees. Everything our customers could see, hear, touch, taste and smell powerfully impacted their purchase decisions.
This is true for individuals, as well. When we interact with others, their five senses are stimulated and emotions and feelings are triggered. The meaningful thing others remember after having interacted with us is how we made them feel. The goal, of course, is to leave them with a positive emotional impression! We can do that by paying careful attention to how we stimulate their five senses.
Later, I found myself selling drugs…the legal ones, of course! As a pharmaceutical representative, my success was largely dependent on my ability to build relationships with physicians and nurses. It didn’t matter how much I knew. If I couldn’t establish rapport and cultivate strong relationships, I wasn’t going to sell anything.
Then, prior to forming Starla West International, I found myself consulting with various financial institutions throughout the United States. In the eyes of customers, banks are often viewed as a commodity – they all offer the same products and services. The good news is…one of the most effective ways a commodity business can truly differentiate itself from its competition is by providing a customer experience that leaves customers feeling welcomed, valued, reassured and significant.
I found myself – day in and day out – helping bankers understand it is their appearance, choice of behaviors and communication skills that impact a customer’s experience the most, and to create remarkable, referral-worthy customer experiences that keep customers coming back and making referrals, they must properly manage their appearance, behavior and communication skills – daily!
Over time, I realized this was my true passion! I left Corporate America in 2009 to form Starla West International.
At SWI, we’re not obsessed with image. Rather, we are obsessed with what it can do for you and your organization. Today, we serve individuals and entire organizations across the Midwest and beyond. Time and again, we’ve helped men and women maximize their potential by leveraging the power of effective wardrobe, communication, style and etiquette, and we would be delighted to do that for you and your organization. Give us a call!”
Wishing you all the best personally and professional,
Starla West, Certified Image Strategist (AICI FLC)
Founder & President