Behind the scenes of being a stylist intern
Written by India Ambrose
Many programs on Central Michigan University’s campus require students to do a semester internship for further experience, and also for class credit. The fashion merchandising and design program, to name one, requires a 300 hour internship in the summer of one’s junior year. The process was arduous and long, but I finally found a fitting internship in Grand Rapids that worked for me.
Michelle Krick Style is a personal stylist business in the area. Michelle Krick focuses on styling people in their homes and their closets, along with shopping trips to help them figure out their style. This experience has taught me so much so far, and it has only been a few weeks. I want to lead you into the world of a personal stylist, and the fashion scene in Grand Rapids.
Though the fashion scene in New York City and Chicago are larger in scale, Grand Rapids is a slice of paradise in itself. Filled with fun boutiques and events, Grand Rapids is home to a quiet, yet available fashion scene. I discovered Michelle Krick Style by accident and it opened my eyes to an entirely new Grand Rapids. I applied to another boutique in the city and they referred me to Michelle and a great relationship bloomed from there. Many students did not like the idea of doing their fashion internship in Grand Rapids, but little did they know that it was home to a larger than life fashion stylist: Michelle Krick.
My time with her has brought me out of my shell and has given me insight into my future in the fashion industry. A typical day with Michelle is never typical. There is never a dull day, which is a very exciting perk to the job. Some days I go with her to style people’s closets. We go in and assess their style with a questionnaire, then we tackle the closet with the intent to clean up their style and make it easier for them to shop their own closet. Other days, we shop with clients and help them develop their style and add to their closet. My favorite experience with a client was when I got to style an 8-year-old girl all by myself. We did a questionnaire, cleaned out all the garments she did not like, and made a lookbook for her to see all her outfits in one easy place.
Though it seems glamorous, there are a few commitments that one has when interning with a stylist: There are emotional commitments to garments from the client standpoint, time commitments when with a personal stylist, and learning commitments when you are immersed into new experiences in the internship. These components are what makes my internship not only interesting, but fulfilling.
The emotional commitment comes from meeting clients and hearing their stories. Many of them have lost sight of themselves and want a little push to find it again. It is a journey of emotions for them, and it can also rub off on you as a stylist. There are many emotions behind clothing; why someone wears what they wear or why they keep a specific garment. Some people keep a shirt because it was the last thing of a lost loved one and others have fond memories that they made while wearing something, like when they climbed a mountain that they did not think they could reach the peak of. As stylists, we have to honor that and work around the emotions while also embracing them. When doing that, we are able to make progress.
The time commitment comes down to being able to ebb and flow with the job. A stylist is mainly at the mercy of their client and their schedule. Some days I get up at 9 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. while other days I could work 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. In short, you have to be flexible to be a stylist. I’ve learned to balance my time correctly, whether that means eating on time or planning to go over the scheduled time with a client.
A commitment to learning is really important with this internship because that is all you will be doing. You have to be comfortable with trial and error and making mistakes for the bigger learning experience. I had to shed some of my preexisting thoughts about myself and my skills and accept that I am here to learn.
The commitments to this internship have taught me life lessons as well: how to be flexible, how to absorb knowledge, and how to interact with clients and people in general.
All in all, this internship has taught me so much about myself and about the fashion world in my own hometown. Without the requirement from my major, I would have never discovered such a great internship and learning experience that will influence me in the future.