Case Study 1 – In the Office: Flip Flops and Tank Tops-Not!
Spring is approaching and apparel options blossoming, but employees often don’t realize they are “speaking” with what they wear and may not be sending the messages they intend. At Chicago-based manufacturing giant USG, two company-sponsored volunteer groups dedicated to the personal and professional development of women and minority employees wanted to empower employees to use their clothing choices to be seen, heard and understood. They retained The Image Studios to create an event to bring USG’s dress guidelines to life.
The Image Studios created an exciting high-impact wardrobe demonstration that showed employees how to use their outfits to make powerful statements about themselves. The one-hour presentation not only highlighted clothing choices appropriate for their business environment, but it also illustrated how various fashion trends can be adapted to fit different work requirements, personal styles and body types and included commentary on the language of wardrobe. The outfits were modeled by USG employees and selected from high-end to discount retailers where the employees regularly shop.
The Client’s Opinion
“The Image Studios were great at taking all of our thoughts and suggestions and making it into exactly the event we wanted . . . After the first phone call, it was evident they were the right company to help us make our Dress for Success Event a true success story!”
– Wendy Rank, Women Rock (USG Employee Group)
“The room was packed . . .[and the show] generated talk in the hallways and in the cubes about what people wear to work, in particular what is not appropriate or too casual.”
– Kevin Bushman, Oakville Plant Manager
“The event was a huge success . . . it was great to see the new styles and gave me a lot of ideas I could use . . . [and] it was fun to see our fellow co-workers modeling the clothes. “
– Ronda Chianelli, Administrative Coordinator, USG employee
Case Study 2 – Navigating the Corporate World
Every summer Kraft Foods employs scores of INROADS summer interns. Typically smart, savvy and resourceful, but often without corporate role models in their past, they are eager for guidance on how to showcase their strengths in their new business setting. Kraft asked The Image Studios to develop a customized program to emphasize the importance of appropriate corporate behavior, and then expose the interns to various tools to help navigate their new corporate environment.
During a half-day customized program, The Image Studios team took the interns from awareness to action: Using peer-sharing exercises, they helped them understand the judgments people (themselves as well as others) make based on what they see and hear in the first 10 seconds of meeting someone. The team also coached the interns on business dining and cell phone etiquette; taught them the importance of a good handshake, and discussed appropriate and inappropriate questions to ask executives. Through role play, the interns learned how pace, tone, vocal pitch and body language can change the meaning of what they are saying.
The Client’s Opinion
“Our interns come with the talent and willingness to work hard that I call the “price of admission.” Now after working with The Image Studios they also have the savvy to make first impressions that put them on the road to success.”
– SVP, Human Resources, Kraft Foods Global Supply Chain
Case Study 3 – Supporting the Company Brand
“Our receptionist is often the first contact prospects and clients have with our firm. We wanted her to make the same great professional and client-focused impression in person that she made on the phone.”
– Founding Partner, Chicago full-service law firm
Clients love the woman who answers the phones at this Chicago law firm. She’s always cheerful and upbeat and has great follow-through. The voice on that phone reflects the high quality and responsive service that is the firm’s hallmark. Recognizing this, the partners asked their receptionist to work with The Image Studios so she could make the same great impression when clients came into the firm’s offices.
The most challenging task in working with the firm’s receptionist was to help her see that the firm’s sending her to the Image Studios was an investment they were making in a valued employee. Once over that hurdle, the Image Studios team helped her to make more professional wardrobe choices, in many cases simply by accessorizing and tailoring existing items in her closet, and to learn to groom her dreadlocks to be appropriate for a business setting.
The Client’s Opinion
“We have been delighted with the results . . . so much so that we now have other staff members working with the Image Studios. This clearly has been . . . and continues to be . . . a great investment.”
– Founding Partner
“I’ll admit when my boss first talked to me, I was not happy. I thought she was telling me I had to cut off my dreadlocks. But after working with the staff at The Image Studios, I appreciate that the firm did this for me; I learned how to keep my own style . . . casual and understated . . . but still come across as professional. I know I represent the firm better now . . . and I feel better about how I present myself personally as well.”
– Firm Receptionist