How many times have you walked by a store, stopped and marveled at the window displays. No, not just the gorgeous clothing in the window. But how that clothing is displayed and the majestic nature of the window. Well, Fashionistas/os, we have found the brains behind some of those windows. And he happens to be a former Style Guru. This month’s CollegeFashionista Next article is brought to you by the talented and always charming Marko Alejo. Besides being a former Style Guru and a Visual Associate with Madewell, I have the pleasure of calling Marko a dear friend as well. Enjoy Marko’s story of his experience at FIDM, transitioning Visual Communications into a profession and how CollegeFashionista impacted his journey.
Hello old friend and interested parties. Although I would much rather see those familiar faces across a table in some fantastic little café with baked treats I’d keep eyeing behind you or indecisively browsing a menu at some bustling gastro pub the next best thing that I can do is write to you today to uplift nostalgia with a polite catch up.
Coming to you from good ole’ Los Angeles I, Marko Alejo, am the former Head Style Guru for The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandise (FIDM) class of 2011. I graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in Visual Communications and departed from the downtown campus excitingly impatient with bright eyes for the promise of the adventures that underline tomorrow.
Still residing in L.A. the road had taken me to all kinds of internships, volunteering and jobs that remain a part of my core when it comes to experience. But my adoring commitment has been within the hands of a company called Madewell. For the past two and half years I went from working the sales floor to a Visual Associate. I started at the Americana store in Glendale and instantly fell in love. Madewell comes from J.Crew roots and is a women’s tried and true heritage denim brand that also provides other essential classics with quirky yet stylish twists.
As a Visual Associate I work side by side with the Merchandising Manager to take charge in assuring that the creative environment of our store locations remains unique, fresh and memorable. You will probably find me in a window installing fixtures for our store fronts, styling mannequins with new merchandise, on top of a ladder layering props along the shelving and in the back painting or fussing with chalkboard. It’s a hands on job that I always feel excited to do. Like a home you feel a sense of ownership and do everything you can to maintain its beautiful quality.
Another part of the job is participating with the Corporate Visual and Merchandising team that is involved in preparing for new store openings. I’ve projected with them to open Pasadena, The Grove and the restoration of The J.Crew in Old Town. Together we build up old spaces into our own Madewell factories filling them with handpicked flea market and auction finds of leather club chairs, antique schoolyard touches and authentic scales of all kinds of metalwork. There is a lot of detail and projections to coordinate for future trends when it comes to styling the looks and the floor. Learning with these talented minds who work in the New York headquarters and watching their process come to life is truly inspiring.
Collaboration has also been some of the highlights of working for the company. I’ve been there to debut both of Alexa Chung’s collections for the brand, working with Mr. Kate showcasing her jewelry and designing in store bracelets and working with Julie Sarinana of Sincerely, Jules to create some hand drawn images of her in our spring collection for an event she threw together with the store. It has really felt like one big celebration to plan and to enjoy because I get to work with some of the most creative people and get to meet some show stoppers along the way.
CollegeFashionista will eternally be a part of who I am and always a post-it note to remember why I do what I do. Amongst the racks of must haves, after the party is over and when doors close for the night, I know what remains perpetual is the sincere enjoyment for the love of fashion. So although chapters must end the best thing to do for one’s self is to keep moving forward. 2013 is going to be a fantastic and big year for many wonders to unfold for those who work hard and dream passionately.
Thank you CF, fellow Style Gurus and readers for being precious gems. I take a polite bow and promise to always think of you all so fondly from yours truly.