Interview by Lauren Douglass
Fashionista founder of New Jersey’s first boutique-on-wheels, Christie Maruka has been practicing style since she was 15 years old. After decades working in traditional retail, Maruka decided to break the mold of how men, women and teens shop for fashion by serving her busy clients from the mobile dressing room of her Fashion Fix van. Now she transports her wares and expertise all along the east coast, offering up high quality designer fashion on-the-go.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I have been in the fashion industry for 30 years. I started as a teenager, dressing people, working and managing for different stores. Then I worked for Calvin Kline in New York City as an account executive selling to 20 some department stores. After that, I opened a trendy women’s boutique on the Jersey Shore. Almost 10 years later I sold it and started Fashion Fix, which has been going on since 2007. I really wanted to take my show on the road as far as styling and being mobile. I started out in New Jersey, where I bought a Mercedes sprinter truck and transformed it into a showroom.
This is a relatively unique idea. What kind of challenges have you faced getting it off the ground?
Learning how to use the van has been tricky. You need commercial plates, and when you go into a town you’re not allowed to just park and sell. That’s soliciting, and not what I do. That said, the reaction to the van has been huge. People have stopped me everywhere, and are constantly calling the number on the side of the van. My business is by appointment only, but through it I’ve gotten involved in television, Style Network, and even dressing news reporters. It’s been on talk shows and news channels. Everybody just loved the idea. Driving the van lets me keep all sizes on board – from dresses to shorts, yoga wear to black tie affairs, I really can dress you anywhere and for anything out of this van. And if I don’t have it, I can go get it from my vendors. We even do live fashion forecasts right out of the van.
What are some of the common mistakes women make when trying to shop for themselves?
The mistakes I see most often are wearing outdated fashions, choosing clothes that don’t flatter your figure and wearing the same old things again and again. Most people I see have gotten stuck wearing just one style. For instance, they’ll think that a certain style of pant looks good on them and when I go in their closet, they own them in like 20 different colors. They wear those pants every day with the same shirt because they don’t know how to put anything else together and maybe they don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. Part of my job is to go to their house and do a wardrobe consultation where I rework their existing wardrobe. Without them spending a dime, they have 20 new outfits! They just need to know how to put their items together into different looks – a different pair of shoes or a change up with accessories can usually do the trick. Of course, if what they’re wearing doesn’t flatter them or feels too outdated, they may decide to give those things to charity and go for a whole new look.
For someone on a budget who can’t afford a personal stylist, can you give some tips for how to update your wardrobe, or advice on some classic pieces to purchase?
If you can’t afford a stylist, just look online or get inspiration from what’s on TV. There are so many resources out there, there’s definitely a way to educate yourself on what looks good, and find out what styles and colors work best for you. As far as classic pieces, make sure you have something as simple as a pencil skirt and a white cotton button-down—there are so many different variations you can create with that one combination. Definitely keep a leather jacket, which can take you from day to night easily, and a basic sheath dress. You can wear your dress to work with a pretty blouse under it, then change it up with your leather jacket and booties at night for a completely different, sexy look. Leggings are a great investment as long as they’re the right quality and thickness. One of my pet peeves that I see every day is women wearing see-through leggings. I just can’t believe people leave the house like this! If you’re going to wear leggings, you should have a tunic, longer sweater or something that covers you, because leggings are NOT pants! Unless they have pockets on the back, they’re meant to be worn with something over them.
What are some personal goals for the future, or things that you want to accomplish?
Right now I’m doing a lot of mother/daughter makeovers that have gotten me involved in helping teens. I’d like to do more with that. I love doing makeovers with teens who suffer from low self-esteem. I also hope to one day have more vans on the road, and maybe one styling studio in New Jersey that could be a “home-base” for everyone. Then we could have makeup artists, hair stylists and fashion advisors all in one place. I am also currently signed with a producer in California and we are working on a reality show that would feature myself traveling around doing makeovers. As for now, I’m excited to keep expanding my business and see where it takes me!