What's a fashion feng shui facilitator? We meet Jacqui Cooper to find out
PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 April 2016
Five years ago, Jacqui Cooper was so caught up in work, family, meetings, meals, decisions and dashing about - or 'life', as it's more commonly known - that her clothes became a uniform and her wardrobe a sea of boring black.
As operations director of Coopers Coffee, a business she set up with her husband David 20 years ago in the spare bedroom of their Leeds flat and grew into a highly successful national brand, she wore smart, professional clothes every day, pulling the same things off the rail every morning without so much as a second thought.
‘I was so wrapped up in work and my family that clothes were simply not a priority. They just weren’t on my radar,’ she said. ‘If someone had told me five years ago that my next career would be as an image consultant, I wouldn’t have believed them in a month of Sundays.’
But she is – and more. After selling the family business in 2011, she retrained and is now an image consultant, life coach and the north of England’s only licensed fashion feng shui facilitator after achieving formal accreditation from the Association of Image Consultants International.
She works with a large and varied portfolio of clients at her studio near Honley, West Yorkshire; a lovely, first floor space with a vaulted, beamed ceiling, painted in relaxing green tones and bedecked with rails of clothes, swatches of fabric in every colour imaginable and teetering piles of style magazines.
She also reaches out to clients at home by helping them declutter and restock their wardrobes; takes them on shopping expeditions; and hosts style masterclasses at House of Fraser in Huddersfield and the Victoria Quarter in Leeds.
Clothes are now central to her life. But how did this massive 180 come about, taking her from corporate suit to fashion feng shui guru?
‘Having had a corporate identity and a wardrobe of clothes to match, I realised I no longer had anything suitable to wear,’ said Jacqui. ‘My lifestyle and identity had changed completely. I started to question what was age appropriate, what was more suitable for my new life, how to dress my changing shape and where to begin in reinventing myself.
‘I soon realised that it wasn’t just me – lots of other women and men were going through life changes too. Perhaps their children had just left home, they were starting a new job or going through a divorce. They’d evolved but their wardrobe hadn’t.
‘I knew this was something I could help them with. I’d had the life experience and gone through all the life challenges needed to make me truly empathetic.’
She’d also put in the hard work to gain professional accreditation, qualifying in colour therapy and styling with Colour Me Beautiful before taking it to a deeper level with life coaching, counselling and the art of feng shui.
So, we have to ask, what exactly does feng shui have to do with fashion? Isn’t it all about finding the perfect position for a pot plant in the living room?
‘The whole fashion thing can seem superficial, but your clothes and the message they portray are an interface between you and the rest of the world,’ Jacqui explained. ‘When you feel better about yourself, you make better choices and exude more confidence.
‘Increasing clients’ confidence levels and showing them how to dress authentically is the main objective behind practicing fashion feng shui. With increased confidence, people make better decisions, are more positive and are inspired to make other positive life changes too.’
Fashion feng shui, as practised by Jacqui, is a transformational dressing technique based on the ancient Chinese art of placement, utilising the energetic language of nature’s five elements – water, wood, fire, earth and metal – to describe physical appearance, preferences, goals, lifestyle and clothing design elements.
It’s based on the premise that you live a happier, healthier and more prosperous existence when your home and work environments are harmonious and balanced.
‘Working with the five elements of feng shui, I ask clients lots of questions to gauge which is their dominant element and then we dress that essence,’ said Jacqui. ‘I ask what their aspirations are and what goals they’d like to achieve, then dress them for the life they want to live.’
Most of her clients are stuck in a style rut, terrified of colour for fear of looking dated (or worse, a children’s television presenter) and have lost their own personal sense of style after being bombarded with confusing and conflicting images and information in magazines, newspapers, online and in stores.
‘The key is to learn to dress for yourself and no one else,’ said Jacqui. ‘Once you learn to do that, and to not care what anyone else thinks, you automatically become less judgemental of others too, which can only be a good thing.
‘Dressing for yourself brings inner confidence. And it also pays to dress with intention. Think about what you want to achieve today and how you want to feel and dress with those aims in mind. If, for instance, you’ve got a very active day ahead and want to feel energised, green is a great choice.’
Jacqui obviously practices what she preaches, choosing her clothes to reflect her personality, to make her feel comfortable and confident and to give her the daily boost she needs to achieve the goals she’s set herself.
It’s what she describes as a holistic approach to fashion; taking an industry often dismissed as superficial and ephemeral in an inspiring new direction.
‘I feel as if I’m on a fascinating journey and am enjoying one heck of a ride,’ said Jacqui, positively glowing with energy and, not to get too feng shui about it, good vibes.
‘The wonderful thing about my job is that I get to work with people I like to call “everyday extraordinary women” and see something beautiful in each and every one. It might take a while for them to see it for themselves, but it’s always there.’
To find out more about Jacqui Cooper visit jacquicooper.co.uk or call 01484 664264.