High Powered Professional Mover & Shaker: Carolou Goodridge
Carolou Goodridge is a high powered Luxury Fashion and Image Consultant in Washington D.C. who recently followed her passion and fulfilled her dream of starting her own business, Image Forward Consulting (IFC).
Prior to starting her consultancy, she spent five years as a professional staffer at the US House of Representatives. She also worked for 2 years as a lobbyist on international education issues. While working on Capitol Hill, she used her political savvy and love for fashion to spearhead the Government Affairs Division of The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. These efforts led to the creation of the first and only Congressional caucus dedicated to fashion, The Congressional Fashion Business and Apparel Manufacturing Caucus. The caucus currently serves as the voice on all issues pertaining to the fashion and manufacturing industries in the US.
Ms. Goodridge earned her BA in Political Science and MA in Public Policy. She has also completed a Fashion Styling course with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
I am thrilled that Ms. Goodridge took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her business venture and career philosophies with me!
Q: Congratulations on starting Image Forward Consulting! Tell me about your business.
Thank you! Image Forward Consulting is a styling and image consultancy specializing in luxury brands. I work with individuals to create the perfect look based on their personal style and needs. I specialize in fashion styling, personal shopping, and wardrobe enhancements. I work with each client based on their personal needs on everything from styling for a single special occasion to creating an entire wardrobe. As I move forward with the launch of IFC, I will begin working primarily in men’s styling.
I have primarily worked with individuals who seek to achieve a more stylish and polished look. While my clients also want to avoid falling into the pattern of dress that DC is unfortunately known for – black, gray and blue suits – they don’t want to compromise who they really are. As a stylist, I try to work within my client’s comfort level, while presenting options that will allow them to take their personal style to another level. I think my clients appreciate that I don’t try to change who they are completely. For my clients who have not yet identified their personal style, I conduct a comprehensive consultation which helps them realize how much their personality, lifestyle, likes and dislikes impact their personal style. Then I work to create a wardrobe around that. I also advise clients on what colors work best for them, as well as the silhouettes that are best for their specific body type.
Q: I’m a firm believer that you must have passion for whatever career you choose. What do you love about your career? And, what excites you about being an entrepreneur.
I love waking up every morning and not knowing exactly what the day holds for me. Sure I spend a lot of time catching up on fashion news, reaching out to former and potential clients, and developing strategies to grow IFC, however, I enjoy the spontaneity of each day. Because I personally love to shop, I enjoy having the freedom to spend my days browsing in shops, looking for the hottest trends and meeting other industry professionals along the way. I really love that I am living on my own terms. I make the rules. Each day I decide what I am going to do and how I am going to make it happen. That’s exciting to me. I love that my job entails reading fashion books and magazines, and checking out up and coming designers online. I no longer have to sneak around at a 9-5 doing those things. Haha!
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I always thought that I was just rebelling against authority in the workplace, when actually it had less to do with supervisors and everything to do with my desire to do something different with my career and my life. Also, I love the fact that I am starting something brand new in a city that is starting to get recognized for its emerging fashion scene. There really is no prototype for how to do this, so I’m learning as I go along. I’m working solely on passion and natural talent.
Q: It takes a lot of guts to go out on your own after having such a successful career. What were the deciding factors when determining to start your consultancy?
Well, I am very excited about the launch of IFC. Not only do I love fashion, but I appreciate the way it makes people feel. Throughout the years, I would always get compliments on my outfits and accessories. Soon friends and family members began seeking my advice on their wardrobe and asking me to accompany them on shopping trips. And that’s how the seed for IFC was planted. It got to a point where I was extremely unhappy at my job, and I started working with clients outside of my circle of family and friends. I began to think “Wow, I love doing this. It would be great if I could do this full-time.”
The life changing experience was attending New York Fashion Week in February. As a New York native, I had never truly experienced Fashion Week. It was amazing! I attended 6 runway shows and met so many fashion industry celebrities that I had admired for so long. When I got back to DC, I instantly knew that I could not go back to the drudgery of sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours every day. I knew that what I had experienced in New York was just a taste of what my life could be. But, I had to take the first step. I decided on that day that I would quit my job to pursue my dream. Something just clicked for me and I had to remove all fear and doubt. I had to trust in my passion and talent enough to say that not only could I make a living from this, but I could thrive. And, I’m holding on to that.
Q: There’s definitely a glamorous side to the work that you do considering that you have to remain in tune with the latest fashion trends. How do you stay on the cutting edge?
Fashion is absolutely glamorous! However, staying in tune with the latest trends is hard work. You really have to have a mind of your own or you’ll run the risk of floating whichever way industry decision makers tell you to go. I know what I like and what my clients will like. And, this is always taken into consideration when making recommendations. There are so many online fashion resources and blogs (which I definitely read), but there’s nothing like Vogue, Elle, W and GQ to let me know what trends are in and forthcoming.
I mentioned attending Fashion Week, which I hope to attend each season from now on…where each trend can be seen six months in advance. I love going back home to New York, which I believe is the fashion capitol of the world (Parisians may not agree). I get so much creative energy and inspiration just by walking down the street. Whether it’s a designer’s showroom with sample items from an upcoming line, or a boutique owner who also happens to be a designer, New York is always on the cutting edge of fashion. So, I’m happy that I didn’t move too far away.
Also, believe it or not, I get a lot of inspiration from the younger generation. High school and college students are all developing their sense of self and are experimenting with many things, including their personal style. Many young people push the envelope with their style and I love it. It may not always be appropriate for everyone, but if modified, I can definitely make it work.
Previous Mover & Shaker Feature
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