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Dressing Men For The Life They Want

Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog

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Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted, LLC.  Born and raised in the DC metro area, Mr. Harris graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) with a BA in Psychology and soon earned an MBA in Organizational Development and Psychology in 2007 from the American InterContinental University.  He is an avid world traveler and passionate about reading.  He has appeared in TIME Magazine, CNN Newsroom Video, and The Wall Street Journal.

Image Granted, LLC; is a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today’s professional man. They offer several services to men to improve their personal image, style and presence.

MO:
How did you get involved with the image consulting field?  Is that an area that always held your interest?

Grant:
I had been involved in other business pursuits in the past but I didn’t have a passion for any of them.  I just saw them as vehicles to make money at the time instead of long-term pursuits that I could enjoy and make money also.  I got hooked up with a  business coach who gave me an assignment to find 3 professions I thought I could use my skills in and make money.  I stumbled upon a description of an image consultant online and it floored me.  I loved everything about the job description and at that time I had recently begun reading men’s style and fashion blogs.  I wrote a business plan in a matter of weeks and was on my way to interviewing consultants in the field and finding my way into the market.


MO:
Is there competition in your industry?  If so, how do you differentiate from others and stand out as the leader?

Founded by Grant Harris

Grant:
There are plenty of image consultants in the DC metro area but the overwhelming majority are women.  Most of these women focus on female clientele first and the male second.  This is an advantage for me since I am a man who focuses solely on men.  I can relate to men on their level and understand the psychology behind what they want and need.  Also, I have extensive experience in the Human Resources corporate environment and know the benefits of dressing well to climb the corporate ladder.  Being one of the few male stylists in the area, and having a background in corporate America where it pays to be polished and professional gives me an edge on my completion.  But the truth is my biggest competition is my clientele itself.  There are so many men in the DC metro area that need image help that there is plenty of work to go around.  It’s just a matter of gaining the trust and acceptance of the men walking down the street—which is no easy task.

MO:
Some men don’t have good taste when it comes to clothing.  Other men have good taste in clothing but poor judgment on what to wear to the office vs. to the club on Saturday night.  What, in your experience, do you find men lack the most when it comes to personal image?  Are these things you can help men with?

Grant:
Most men lack knowledge and initiative.  It is commonly known that most men don’t like to shop.  I’m convinced that this is because they are afraid of shopping either because they don’t know how, or they just lack the drive to find out how to be effective and efficient when they do find themselves needing to shop.  Generally in America men are trained to work on cars and get dirty with their hands while women are taught to shop from an early age.  Men can learn how to shop and therefore learn what looks best on them for their body shape, skin tone, and other factors.  I truly believe that if men took the time to learn about fashion and style like they do about their favorite car or sports team, that they would soon see the benefits of presenting a clean cut image.

MO:
Talk about your client base.  Who are your clients and where do your clients come from?  What type of marketing attracts the man that wants image assistance?

Grant:
My clients are professional white collar men ages 25-34 who are looking to upgrade their style and image for several reasons ranging from a promotion at work, to gaining more respect from peers, to looking good for a night out on the town.  We have serviced  professional men in the fields of medicine, technology, entertainment, and the military ranks.  Currently our services are marketed through social networks, word of mouth and building personal relationships with industry insiders.  We spend time grooming relationships with the men we come in contact with.  This is a high-touch business meaning it’s all about building trust and confidence in the customer.  In the end our goal is to become a style confidant for our clients.

MO:
After earning your MBA, you interned for an online custom clothing business.  How did that experience prepare you for starting your own business?

Grant:
My internship experience with Antonio Centeno at A Tailored Suit definitely helped me launch Image Granted.  Antonio and I built a business partnership over several months discussing business ideas, studying my personal image, learning how to assess another men’s appearance,  and learning the art of building and promoting my brand among other vital skills.  The time spent at A Tailored Suit was invaluable and Antonio and I continue our friendship today.

MO:
Grant, as an entrepreneur yourself, what is the importance clothing and personal image play in the role of today’s entrepreneur?  What advice do you have to readers to make the most of their image?

Grant:
Many entrepreneurs believe that when they start their own business they have the right to dress however they want since there is no one over their shoulder making them adhere to a dress code.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Entrepreneurs should be even more cognizant of how they present themselves since they are representing themselves and not their employer.  The customer sees me, not the face of some enormous Fortune 500 company.  I have to practice what I preach and be on my game at all times.  I can’t expect a man to take my advice if I’m not following my own recommendations.  It’s the same for any man or woman who is in business for themselves.  Their personal image and appearance directly reflects on them as a person and could either have a positive or negative effect on the outcome of their success.

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