April 22, 2010
Popular TV shows like "What Not To Wear" show dramatic wardrobe and hair make-overs, but for Debbie Crosby-Louis, who offers that and more, it's not a fad or quick-fix. It's her way of life. When Crosby-Louis is not working as an image consultant, she volunteers her time at schools area schools helping teens with self-esteem issues.
After spending several years studying in places like Australia, Germany and France, scientist and self-proclaimed "lab rat" Vanessa Leung moved to Charlottesville just over a year ago. Today, she's a client of Debbie's.
"I did feel like I haven't spent much time in the real world, in the world where appearances matter a lot more than in the lab," said Leung.
Crosby-Louis says she uses the lessons learned from her time observing someone at a Battered Women's Shelter in New York to help women build their self-confidence from the outside in.
"These [make-up] are just props. It does matter because that's the world we live in, but it's what happens on the inside," said Crosby-Louis.
The clothes and make-up are just a jumping off point for a more gradual change from the inside, out.
"We really went into what was important to me, because that's what you project on the outside as your image, it's what your values are," said Leung.
Crosby-Louis has worked as an investment banker on Wall Street, as a flight attendant and at a make-up counter at Saks Fifth Avenue, but she credits her shift to consultation to one thing in particular.
"It's gratifying to see the changes over time. My comfort and my payment for what a do - I do a lot of stuff voluntarily - is just to learn," said Crosby-Louis.
As for Vanessa Leung, she is preparing to leave the country to work abroad, taking the "gifts" Debbie Crosby-Louis has taught her along for the journey.