Issue: Spring/Summer 2015

A Contagious Love

Shelley (Smith '93) Noyes

I recently interviewed Los Angeles based wardrobe stylist Kristina Van Dyk ’05 on her way to San Francisco for an 11-day photoshoot to style all of Buick’s print advertising for 2016. As I spoke with her on the phone, I suddenly heard the beeping of an open car door on her end followed by muffled voices and laughter. I had never had a phone interview quite like this before, so I asked, “Are you getting gas or something?” Kristina got back on the phone breathless and excited. “I’m with my assistant, Brooke, and we found a BEAUTIFUL lake along the drive, and we had to get out and take some pictures!” Her enthusiasm is contagious—I can hear her smile through the phone as she takes me along for the ride. Talking to Kristina is an exhilarating adventure, and by the end of the conversation, I look down at my arm wondering if maybe some of her sparkle has rubbed off on me.

Kristina is often a company’s first call when they need a wardrobe stylist, and I can immediately see why. Her kindness draws people to her, and her attention to detail and commitment to her clients’ success makes her one of the best in the business. Her client list includes companies you know: Apple, Google, Gymboree, Subaru, Citibank, Charles Schwab, Doritos, Sketchers, and Reebok. Her work can be found in magazines, on websites, in TV commercials, and on billboards all across the country. To get a broad sense of what Kristina does for a living, pick up a magazine the next time you are in your doctor’s office waiting room, and flip through the ads. Stop at one that features people, and notice what they are wearing. A wardrobe stylist was hired by that company to put those outfits together to best reflect the audience whom the company is marketing. Kristina’s job is to shop for, dress, fit, and style the clothing and accessories for all of the “talent” who will be appearing in the client’s commercials or print advertising.

When Kristina came to Houghton as an art major in 2001, she had never heard of a wardrobe stylist. “I loved fashion,” she exclaims, “but I didn’t even know that job existed! I thought maybe I would work for a designer, own my own store or design my own clothing line.” At the wise suggestion from her father, Robert “Bob” Van Dyk ’75,  Kristina added a business minor to her schedule. Art and business fit together naturally for Kristina, and her minor soon became a major. “Kristina was a standout student in many ways. She was a role model for others in finding balance and integration between art and business,” explained associate professor of business administration Ken Bates ’71. “But what I really remember is the amazingly creative enthusiasm she carried around with her.”

Ted Murphy, professor of art, recalls her strong work ethic and her ability to take risks with ideas—especially during the critiques in his studio art class. “Later, when she was out in the world of business, she told me those critiques were instrumental in her success,” remembers Murphy. “She learned how to give an account for her proposals in a room full of people [in my class], and now it is something she does every day.”

“Kristina is vibrant, energetic and driven,” says classmate Elaine Tooley ’05. “At the same time, she is gracious and kind.” It is this kindness that makes Kristina so magnetic—especially in an industry known for its ruthless competition. “People ask me, ‘Are you spiritual or something? You are the first stylist who has never cried or freaked out during a shoot. It is just so nice having you around! There is something so different about you.’” That difference is the big love of Jesus—and Kristina wants to share it with everyone she comes in contact. “One day, I was praying and thanking God for this job, and I said to Him, ‘You have me here for a purpose. Who needs to see you, feel you, or know you? If I’m the only person—the only example of Jesus—they ever see, then I need to make sure I’m doing you justice.’”

Today, Kristina shines brightly and loves big on every job she does. Sometimes, that love is being patient and gentle with an attention-starved child on a Gymboree shoot who is running a truck over Kristina’s face instead of cooperating during a fitting. Sometimes, it is listening to the breakup story of a heartbroken coworker. And sometimes, it is praying with her staff, inviting curious friends to her church, or even answering a child’s questions about the cross she is wearing around her neck and watching him or her hear the story of Jesus for the first time.

As Kristina and I finished up our interview, I found myself wishing you could meet her in person. Our conversation was full of superlatives, capital letters and exclamation points. Even over the phone, she radiates life. While we talked, Kristina hit a spot in the mountains with no cell service, and I lost her—but not before she bubbled, “I love, love, love my life! I feel so ridiculously blessed.”


 

When Kristina is not working, she is busy flying around the world and volunteering at orphanages in Africa, Bangladesh and India. She is also writing and illustrating a children’s book about her travels.


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