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Fashion From The Ground Up
September 26, 2014 by Sarah Marloff
How Christie Maruka Became the Celebrity Stylist and Fashionista That She is Today
Having just celebrated her 30th anniversary in the fashion business, Christie Maruka dresses everyone from New Jersey housewives and Wall Street executives to news reporters, professional athletes, and reality stars. But it all started as a part-time, after school job in retail. Unlike most dazed and confused 15 year-olds, Maruka soon realized that the fashion world was where she was meant to be.
“I noticed what happened to people when I dressed them – sometimes they’d come back in and thank me, and ask for more help,” says the stylist. “It became an addiction.” From there, Maruka worked her way up the fashion world ladder – from managing stores all over her home state of New Jersey, working as an account executive for Calvin Klein offices in Manhattan, to opening her first brick and mortar boutique in 1998. Along with making connections with clothing designers (many of which she still uses today for her mobile fashion truck, Fashion Fix), she also built herself a reputation as a fashion contributor for Women’s Wear Daily, Lucky Magazine, and Fox News Magazine.
Opting for her traveling showroom over the store’s stationary location, the stylist created her high-end boutique on wheels in 2007. Her first order of business – purchasing a Mercedes Benz van and stocking it with designer clothing. She now spends her time exclusively at Fashion Fix, where each day is a new adventure in personal shopping and styling. With today’s food truck and pop-up store mania, it’s hard to believe that, just seven years ago, Maruka’s Fashion Fix was a rare breed, and the first of it’s kind within the Garden State.
The certified shoe fiend – Maruka admits to having a special shoe closet that houses over 200 pairs of heels, boots, ballet flats, you name it – is also a mother to an 11 year old son. Though he’s currently uninterested in his mom’s career, the girls in his class think she has “the coolest job ever,” exaggerates Maruka. But between the fashion and family worlds, Maruka admits, “By the time I sit down at night it’s more like lying down. I don’t even have time to watch TV.”
As a stylist, Maruka offers more to her clients than just fashion advice, and she confesses that she especially enjoys working with people hoping for a self-esteem boost. “Many of my clients are people who are starting over. Some are going through a divorce; others are starting new careers. It’s easy to dress a runway model – they’re like a hanger, everything looks good on them. But I like working with all body types and budgets. It’s my job to help them feel better about how they look.”
Though she’s not a certified trainer, thirty years as a fitness enthusiast has also taught Maruka a lot about fitness and motivation as well. Frequently, she finds herself simultaneously working as a fitness guru to her clients, offering up tips and tools to help them achieve their desired weight. The extra work doesn’t faze her though, “I love seeing their transformation,” she exclaims.
But the high fashion job demands high fashion hours. Though Maruka typically schedules one client each day (which can entail showroom visits, mall trips, and a two hour consultation), evening runs for people with last minute meetings or parties are not unheard of. “I work seven days a week sometimes,” she says. “And I get text messages all day long from my clients, asking for my opinion. They’re like my friends; I’ve been working with them for so long. I’ve known some of these people for 25 years. Now I’m dressing their kids, and a few grandkids.” In fact, the people she works with are – without a doubt– her favorite part of the job. But ambush makeovers rank pretty high on her list as well. “I love seeing what it does for people! It’s the most gratifying part of what I do.”
Three decades is a long time for a fashion career to stay ahead of the curve, but between her talent for rebranding and her bi-annual visits to New York Fashion Week, Maruka isn’t afraid of falling behind. “It takes a long time to get to this point,” she explains. “By now, I know how to dress all people, and I’ve worked in all areas of this profession.” Fashion Fix now relies heavily on word of mouth, and of course Maruka’s television work. The fashionable femme has lent her talent to reality TV’s Jerseylicious, conducted “Mommy Makeovers” on the Tyra Banks Show, and donated and dressed bullied teens on Montel Williams.
Regardless of all the limelight, Maruka is clear about one thing: she’ll work with any budget. “The people I work with spread all across the board. I have some people on limited budgets and some with no limits,” explains Maruka, who promises she can even make Target fashion look good.
Proud to be a business trendsetter, Maruka urges young woman following in her wake to get into the fashion world as soon as possible. “Start young and don’t be afraid to work all the career aspects: sell, manage, buy. Gain all the experience you need to get where you want land.” For those on a less conventional path, she adds, “If school isn’t for you, you can still get there.”
Doing what she does best, the style advisor happily offered a few valuable tips for businesswoman fashion.
- Stay true to yourself and your style– don’t just copy what you see in magazines. You have to make the style your own.
- Dress age-appropriately.
- Be comfortable and have fun – it’s fashion after all!
- Don’t forget the accessories. Great accessories can change any look, and take you from day to night.