Four years ago, Egami Style founder Natasha Di Ciano saw a void in the market for a business that could help people make the best of their image to advance themselves in a professional environment.
The King Street-based company is an image consultancy firm that offers advice on personal image and professional positioning for individuals and organisations wanting to develop their own brand.
Ms Di Ciano said people tended to underestimate the importance of ‘image’ and its impact on the business opportunities of an individual or organisation.
“Non-verbal communication accounts for 93 per cent of communication, so it’s very important,” she said.
“When you walk in the door and meet someone for the first time you are judged straight away, either positively or negatively, within the first three seconds.”
At the age of 20 while studying accounting and business law, Ms Di Ciano started her own PR and event management business and then went on to work in accounting and recruitment roles.
The WA Business News 40under40 winner said that through her experience of interviewing people, she became frustrated by the fact that candidates were not selling themselves to the best of their ability.
“I saw an opportunity in the market for this kind of business, I was always interviewing executives and I noticed the opportunity for them to better position themselves,” Ms Di Ciano said.
“I noticed that, yes they have all the qualifications, yes they have the experience, but visually, they weren’t presenting that credibility.”
Egami Style offers tailored programs and workshops to help people promote their strengths, as well as improve their physical presentation and verbal and non-verbal communication.
“It’s not just about grooming and deportment, it’s about career development,” she said.
“The individuals who come to us really want to establish themselves as a leader in their respective industry, so I’m about helping them look their absolute best and helping them to project themselves in the best possible way.”
Since it started in 2007, the business has grown to 10 staff, which includes a series of experts in all fields of image, such as grooming, styling, PR and performance coaches.
Despite a 20 per cent year on year growth, Ms Di Ciano said there were real difficulties associated with starting a business that did not provide a product which ‘people could see’.
“It was difficult getting our name out there because our business is intangible, that was and probably still is the most challenging aspect because I have all the methodology to show people, but it’s hard for them to understand that in their own minds,” she said.
Dealing with people’s resistance to change is another challenge that Ms Di Ciano has had to overcome to further grow her client base.
“What we are talking about can be quite personal and people tend to be quite resistant to change, so it has been about communicating that we are not trying to necessarily change a person but to show them how to change if they want to open doors for themselves,” she said.
To help the business grow, Ms Di Ciano created a product from the service, an image plan, which she described as a business plan for a person’s own image.
She attended networking events and presented talks at industry seminars to increase the public profile of her business and now works with some of WA’s largest law firms, mining companies and executives.
“The majority of our clients are looking for career strategies and they are both male and female,” she said.
“I think men are looking for influence, positioning and uniqueness and women are looking for confidence, style and are looking to be memorable.”
A second arm of the business, Egami Talent, specialises in executive recruitment, advising on methodology for identifying senior talent.
Ms Di Ciano has also recently embarked on a new program called Powerful Impressions, which offers high school and tertiary students coaching and workshops to prepare them for the world of employment.
“It’s basically a program developed for secondary and tertiary students transitioning from the world of academia to the work place and to help them harness their skills and making that transition for them realistic,” she said.
In particular, Ms Di Ciano is hoping to target the program at students in less-privileged areas.
“We want to help high-school students in high-risk areas and give them opportunities for this type of learning, to help them be more effective at interview situations and better manage their image publicly as well.”
“We want to expand into the overseas market by exporting our programs internationally and we could do this by setting up a franchise model because we have all the programs in place, or we could set up a branch overseas,” she said.