Image Consultant Michele Charles Gustafson's Self-Discovery Lessons on Finding Your Style

How do you invest in yourself? 

At The Self-Discovery Retreat, we empower each other to develop a positive sense of self. Many of us are caring professionals who spend our days helping others reach their goals and put ourselves second. What I have learned though, is that by putting ourselves first and taking care of ourselves, we will be helping more people in the long run.  

One way that we can take care of our awesome selves is in how we dress. I love wearing beautiful clothes and constantly get complimented on my style. Today, my guest is Michele Charles Gustafson, CIC, B.Comm (Honors), a fellow Canadian entrepreneur and Instagrammer who shares my passion for empowering others to become their best selves;  Michele will share her insights on how investing in ourselves is key to achieving our goals.  

(c) Michele Gustafson

(c) Michele Gustafson

Hi, Michele! Thanks for being here! Glad that we connected through Instagram. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself? 

I'm Michele, the creator of, where I work as a full-service Image Consultant, Personal Color Expert, Wardrobe Stylist and Confidence Coach to my clients. I help professionals, bright entrepreneurs, intentional mothers, and women of influence dress with impact so they can communicate their expertise through their appearance using the power of Color and a strategically curated wardrobe.  I help them adore themselves more, which changes their mindset for success and brings them more business, better clients, more awesome relationships all because they invested in their personal confidence. I help my clients find personal style clarity and wardrobe confidence that helps them stand-out and project an image that acts like marketing for their personally-branded life!  

Let’s dive in. How do you practice being confident daily?  Why is it important to dress for success? 

No surprise here. I practice being confident daily by dressing well.  There is a proven mindset shift when your eyes see a confident woman in the mirror.  The brain begins to act like what it sees.  It is a serious "Jedi mind trick" I spend my days teaching my clients. Dressing well is not about fashion or vanity.  It is about self-expression, self-acceptance, self-love, and teaching others how to treat you! It's powerful beyond what people realize! 

How has a positive mindset influenced your work and home life? 

A positive mindset is EVERYTHING! We all have ups and downs, but resiliency - the ability to bounce back - is more important to me to have mastery over.  It's when you think about life happening for you, not to you, that it is easier to see setbacks as lessons and to know that they are a part of moving forward.  The reason I have a vocation I love, clients I adore, a family that thrives is because of how I have over the years chosen to see it all as a journey of personal development.  I spend a lot of time maintaining this mindset since it is the beginning of every "next success." I teach this to my clients too. 

When it comes to our appearance, many of us are very critical of ourselves. How do you bounce back from negative self-talk? 

This is a practice as well.  That nasty self-talk is ALWAYS present if you are growing, so the first way I cope is to know that I will hear it.  The second way I cope is to not take it seriously.  I tend to hear it like a voice outside of my real voice.  It's not me talking. So when it's talking, I ask myself, "What am I uncomfortable with or afraid of right now?"  I've come to realize that negative self-talk is really all just fear-based so I don't waste time anymore wondering why it's there; instead, I just jump to asking what that fear is about so I can address it.  For me, all negative emotions come from fear, including anger.  Quickly recognizing that and checking in is the key to not letting it spiral out of control. 

How do you maintain the balance between work and personal life? What is your number one productivity tip? Why is it important? 

I am very disciplined with my time.  I have used time-blocking techniques since my early days in business, and this time-planning continues to drive my days.  At the beginning of each quarter, I plan my time.  Each month I break the different areas of my business that need attention  - Client Appointments, Prep Work, Office Work, Writing Time, etc. - and I assign percentages of how much time I want to give to each. This ends up telling me how much time in days to spend on each area.  Everything flows from there; from how many appointments I can hold to how many speaking gigs I can take.  Yes, it's pretty scientific but I need it that way to maintain my discipline so that there is time for everything else I love, like being an engaged Mommy to my daughter, supporting my Hubby in his business, doing community work, and following my own passions.  This strict time-planning is important, because it allows me the freedom to enjoy the rest of my life outside of being a career entrepreneur.

How do you practice self-care in your busy life? 

To me, self-care is about finding and maintaining joy outside work.  I have become very deliberate over my 18 years of entrepreneurship to see the difference between work and personal life - and yes, it's hard sometimes - especially because I love what I do and I consider it a lifestyle business.  It's a part of who I am, so working fills me up.  That being said, there is always a time to TURN IT OFF!  When I do separate myself from work, I only do things that bring me joy. I choose exercises for joy - I love Pilates and Zumba.  I choose my social groups for joy - I have only a handful of close friends; they like me just for me and not for what I do.  I choose artist pursuits that fuel my "artist type," like oil painting or crafting. I also love a good home facial, complete with mask or peel; I do this two to three times a week while I sit with my tea.  I love the feeling of pampering that such a simple indulgence can give.   

Thanks, Michele, for being here and empowering us all to develop a positive sense of self! You are teaching us to invest in ourselves and dress well; in turn, we can attract more success into our personal and professional lives.  

Have some comments about dressing well as a professional woman? Or, a story you would like to share about how you invest in yourself? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below. We can all learn from each other.