SRP Heroine Interview: Allison Campbell from Killer Image
Posted October 1, 2013on:
1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?
As Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, I help others reinvent themselves, but I guess you could say that my most successful transformation was my own after a scandal nearly ruined me years ago. Now I move in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.
Not long ago, my latest Main Line client, Maggie McBride, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, was accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, and I had to fight to prove her innocence when no one else would. But unraveling the truth brought specters from my own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what was real from the facade was probably the only thing that kept me alive.
2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?
My client was accused of murder, and no one – not even her parents – seemed willing to fight for her. Maggie McBride is no easy kid to deal with, and the circumstances were incriminating, so I understand why she was an easy target. But I couldn’t stand by and watch her life be ruined if there was a chance she was innocent. And something happened in my past, something that I would rather not talk about right now, that made me worry even more. Let’s just say I wasn’t going to let another teen get hurt on my watch.
Sometimes we reach a point when it’s not enough to worry or talk about something, we have to make a choice. I had reached that crossroad. I had to act.
3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?
Lord, no. I’m an image consultant on the Main Line of Philadelphia. At worst, I figured I might have to break up an argument between two people fighting over a parking spot outside of Bloomingdale’s. Bringing a murderer to justice? No, I never imagined that.
4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?
Who isn’t displeased? Let’s see, there’s my former husband (and best friend), Jason — I think he’s a wee bit proud of me, but also terrified that I will put my nose where it doesn’t belong again at some point in the future. There’s my former-mother-in-law, Mia, who worries about my safety. And, of course, my business manager, Vaughn, who, like all good business managers, would prefer that we focus on clients and stop chasing after bad guys. But Vaughn and I are not so different, so I think underneath it all, Vaughn wants to see justice done, too.
Jason and I are . . . well, let’s just say that he may have the most reason to be concerned. We’ll leave it at that.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Oh, Christina, surely you’ve read my book, From the Outside In! And, if you have, you know from Chapter Seven (“Putting Your Best Pump Forward”), that you should only divulge weaknesses that can be considered strengths. You know, things like, “I can’t leave a task undone,” or “I work too hard – all of the time.”
But to go off script, one thing my work with Maggie McBride taught me is that I’m too rigid. Jason would back that up. I have a tendency to want things neat and tidy, and I don’t just mean my house. I want to be in control. And because of what happened with Violet, because of mistakes in my past and some pretty rough relationships, I like to keep things simple. But life gets messy, things change. That’s really hard for me to accept. Sometimes you have to roll with it.
My strengths? I’m good at reading people, and, even though sometimes I wish it weren’t so, I care about people. Deeply. I realized at a pretty young age that I have a gift for seeing beneath the surface, understanding what makes people tick. And I think this gift makes me a good image consultant. I’m pretty good at recognizing the beauty in people even when they can’t see it themselves. And as for detective work? Well, this trait comes in handy for sleuthing, too.
6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.
Digging deep and being strong when it matters most. I don’t think a self-rescue princess needs to be physically tough, but she needs to have strength of character – she needs to be smart, decisive and brave when circumstances demand it. This doesn’t mean she can’t be caring, loyal, or loving. Or flawed. We’ve all met women who kick butt when they need to, regardless of age or education. And they do it in different ways (not just nabbing the criminals). Think of the women you know. Maybe there’s a woman caring for an elderly parent, a single mom fighting to create a better life for her and her children, a professional who puts the needs of her clients before her own, or an activist who works tirelessly for a cause. Real-life self-rescue princesses are people we see every day. They are strong women who choose to make the world a better place through action.
7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?
Don’t let society dictate who you become. So many girls start out as creative, carefree and confident kids and later succumb to the dictates of our society, believing that their worth is determined based on someone else’s ideals or, just as bad, the media’s portrayal of beauty. Stop. Realize you are beautiful for who you are and what you do, not what you look like – and strive to be the best person you can be.
8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?
Oh, Christina, there were so many life lessons learned. For one, never underestimate a group of divorcees with a mission. And two, heels may look good, but they are not the best footwear for chasing murderers. I’ve become a fan of sensible shoes.
9. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?
Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?
Well, my back and neck still smart from the last adventure, so I’d like to say I’m done, but something tells me there may be another case (or two) to solve in the near future!