In a Recession, Hiring Celebrity-Style Coaching Pays

Professionals pay experts to shape their image and careers in response to the recession.

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While some people might feel they can get this kind of advice by watching shows such as TLC's What Not To Wear instead of paying several hundred dollars for a coaching session, Shayne says the difference is customized advice. Sometimes, people need to be told that they can explore different color combinations or move away from a comfortable polo-and-chino pairing. Shayne says she often encourages working women to experiment with color. "If you get too matchy-matchy, it can be very aging. Instead of wearing navy with cream, try wearing it with lavender, or olive with mint," she says.

Making dreams come true. Before Kimberly Wilson meets with clients, she asks them to fill out a questionnaire about their goals and vision statement. She says the women she works often want to grow or start a business, but they feel stuck. A mentoring session can help them see what they need to do to move to the next step, she says.

That's what happened for Camille Moses-Allen, a 26-year-old yoga teacher based in Baltimore. She was feeling stressed out and underpaid teaching 15 yoga classes a week. Wilson pointed out to her that she was spending too much time in the car and recommended that she create a website where she offered yoga-related services, including workshops, which can pay more than classes. Moses-Allen recently arranged to teach her first workshop and is in the process of creating her website.

"She helped me find out what would be more lucrative instead of giving 110 percent of my energy for something that wasn't working," says Moses-Allen. Wilson also offered some personal advice: Moses-Allen had suffered a bad break-up, and Wilson urged her to use the personal ads on publications such as The Onion and Salon to find someone new.

Since meeting with Wilson, Knebel began working full-time on her website, www.selfhelpgoddess.com, which she is in the process of expanding. One of her favorite pieces of advice was to "act as if you're already living the life you want to be living," down to what she'd wear and who she'd spend time with. Says Knebel, "It definitely had an impact."