Helping people look and feel their best is the highlight of every day for Weyleen Ma ’98, EMBA ‘07. As a certified image trainer, a fashion expert and a business consultant, Weyleen works with both individuals and businesses to improve communication, confidence, appearance and relationships, both personal and professional. She is the founder and president of International Image Consulting and the training director of Image Academia International.
Keep reading to learn more about Weyleen’s dynamic entrepreneurial journey, her years as an FIU student and her interview with the CIA!
Tell us about your years as an FIU student. What were your goals? What obstacles did you face?
I had great professors and mentors in the International Relations (INR) program, including Thomas Breslin, an expert on China; Dr. Ralph Clem, a general in the U.S. Air force and an expert on Russia; Dr. Steven Heine from Religious Studies; and Dr. Fernando, International Relations Chair and an expert on Cuba who gave me an award for distinguished service to the INR Department.
While I was president of the International Relations Club, we grew to over 200 members. I also created a speaker panel that attracted press during the Gulf War.
As a student, my goal was to make a difference in global affairs through the INR program. I wanted to join the Intelligence Community, and with great support from Dr. Clem, I interviewed with the CIA and joined the Air Force ROTC officer program.
Later, during the MBA program, I learned to work as part of a team and to trust others to get a project done.
Both programs helped me on my path toward self-discovery and taught me the importance of giving back. I have always wanted to unite the world, either through international relations or business.
Tell us a little about your career journey and how you ended up where you are today.
After dabbling with the possibility of going into international politics, my father suggested I go the business route instead. During an FIU career fair, I joined Wrigley’s International for a test pilot position opening new markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. After extensive traveling, I switched gears and joined the Macy’s management team as a Macy’s by Appointment Corporate and Personal Shopper. My experience as a personal and corporate shopper prepared me to start a business within a business. I was exposed to the world of retailology, fashion, home, interior design and entrepreneurship.
Did FIU support you in meeting your career goals? If so, how?
One of my professors, Susan Clemmons, suggested a career as an Image Consultant. While in the MBA program, I started my own business in personal and corporate image consulting and soon after, I opened an academy offering certificate programs in Image Consulting, Personal Shopping and Entrepreneurship in Miami, Milan, Florence and Dubai!
Tell us about your company, International Image Consulting.
International Image Consulting offers Personal and Corporate Image Consultant services.
- Personal Image services: DISC human behavior assessment, life coaching, personal color analysis, wardrobe makeover, personal shopping
- Corporate Image services: Professional development and training, customer service, professional dress, business etiquette
- Business Consulting services: Product development, professional colors, visual display, marketing, training
Image Academia International is a boutique academy offering short certificate programs to become an Image Consultant, Personal Shopper, Fashion Stylist and Entrepreneur in Miami, NYC, Milan and Dubai.
- Graduated over 100+ consultants from all over Latin America, Europe, USA and Middle East
- Academic, Fashion, Shopping and Cultural Tours to Milan and Florence, Italy
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
- Helping people improve their lives
- Improving businesses
As a fashion expert and leading image consultant, you have already worked with some incredible brands and people! Do you have an ultimate dream project or a client you hope to work with, or have you already achieved that milestone?
During a trip to Florence, I had the opportunity to work with the two leading luxury handbag factories – one makes the bags for Chanel and Dolce and Gabbana; the other factory makes bags for Burberry, Givenchy, Stella McCartney and more. One of my goals is to create a line of chic exotic handbags and electronic cases in the affordable luxury category. I would also like to work with more professional athletes and host more talks with women to raise self-esteem and improve self-image.
So far, what accomplishments, both personally and professionally, are you most proud of and why?
My major accomplishments have been helping people improve their personal and professional relationships; helping them communicate better, both verbally and non-verbally; and improving their confidence by helping them look and feel their best.
Can you share a few tips with current students and young alumni who are newly navigating the professional world and may be learning the ins and outs of image and style on a budget?
Appearance is part of your personal and professional branding. The way you see yourself mirrors how others treat you.
- Invest in good wardrobe basics and accessories
- Clothes should fit properly
- Stay true to your own style
- Shop during seasonal sales to get the best deals on quality items
As an alumna, how are you staying connected to FIU and why do you think this is a valuable connection to maintain?
I volunteer as a mentor, try to stay connected and attend alumni events to support FIU and the community. Events like StartUP FIU Startup are great for networking. I’m also working on the possibility of offering image consulting and professional development courses online through the department of Continuing Education.
Thank you FIU, for being a lifelong partner in helping me achieve my goals!
Any advice for students looking to get the most out of their time at FIU, both professionally and personally?
Use all available resources. Network with fellow students and connect with teachers. Many of my classmates and professors have become close friends and business partners.
Feel free to share any additional thoughts, advice, feedback, links, etc.
- Make the best out of every situation
- Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen
- Be proactive and take responsibility for your own life
- Take care of yourself and others along the way
Learn more about Weyleen’s consulting services and her academy by visiting the links below.