It is ultimately all about image

20100420PMO:Donna/rae Patricios owner of Donacristi and Image Consulting company in Bryanston, Johannesburg.PHOTO:PETER MOGAKI
20100420PMO:Donna/rae Patricios owner of Donacristi and Image Consulting company in Bryanston, Johannesburg.PHOTO:PETER MOGAKI

YOUR image is what speaks loudest when words are not spoken.

YOUR image is what speaks loudest when words are not spoken.

Research shows that when you feel attractive you are more confident in all areas of life - from the office to social situations.

This is why business partners Busisiwe Mahlaba and Donna-Rae Patricios established Donacristi. It is an image consultancy studio that offers professional image-coaching services.

Mahlaba, who is also a well-known fashionista, is probably best known as editor of True Love magazine, a position she held for four years, and as the former host of SABC2 talk show Motswako, or as the lead judge on 2005 Nokia's Face of Africa competition.

She is consulted regularly by corporates and the media on her valuable insight into issues relating to South African women.

Patricios has extensive experience in business, marketing and branding.

The duo not only share a passion for improving women's self-confidence, they also bring their style savvy and fashion experience to all the personal coaching and style presentations they conduct.

Mahlaba says these days image consultancies are no longer a luxury reserved for the rich and famous.

"Everyone can be beautiful regardless of age, shape, or size. Whether you want to update your style, enhance your image or reinvent yourself with a makeover, you need a professional image consultant to guide you.

"We have yet to meet a woman who doesn't struggle in some way to fully accept and be thrilled with the reflection she sees in the mirror. This, for us, is unacceptable, given how remarkable every woman essentially is.

"So while true inner confidence is a lifetime journey, we have found that simply learning how to dress better is a wonderful way to cheat ... to fake it until you make it, as it were," Mahlaba says.

Mahlaba and Patricios believe that over time dressing in a way that you know is your best inevitably helps reinforce your self-esteem.

"We are quite often humbled by the ability of a gorgeous new handbag or well-fitted pants to instantly add an air of confidence to the person sitting in front of us," Mahlaba says.

Donacristi provides a variety of services, including personal shopping, style tips, fashion advice, wardrobe analysis, make-up tips and women and men makeovers.

Visiting their French-inspired and beautifully decorated establishment in Bryanston, one is struck by the uniqueness of the environment, which makes it perfect for image coaching.

Patricios says the elegance and charm of their boutique makes both private and group consultations enjoyable and unintimidating.

"We also, uniquely to us, have the added convenience of hairstylists, beauticians and a showroom filled with gorgeous clothing on hand to further assist our clients with bringing their new image to life," Patricios says.

Their clients include politicians and business people who want to project a positive image.

"We respect the privacy of our clients and for more sensitive relationships we offer an intimate and private environment.

"We establish a special relationship with designer boutiques and can bring the shopping to you," Patricios says.

Patricios says the most important thing is to look at an individual's personal style.

"We do a sample check list to evaluate a client's appearance and this helps in identifying the client's season, determining the right make-up, giving advice on grooming and how to do wardrobe consulting.

"This includes wardrobe basics for women and men, a step-by-step guide to closet organising, deciding what to keep and get rid of, how to put together outfits, concealing body flaws, the psychology of clothing colours, tips on accessorising and wardrobe shopping tips," Patricios says.