Helen Marcotte had always wanted to work in the fashion industry, but wrote it off as a far- fetched dream. So when she received a call for an internship from Kleinfeld Bridal, the show popularized by the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress,” after applying as a long shot, she was floored.
Now, Marcotte, a graduate student in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences set to graduate this December, is working alongside Kleinfeld’s fashion director, buyers and designers like she’s been doing it forever.
While she said she barely notices the cameras now, she did have her own moment of being starstruck when she first saw Randy Fenoli.
“Within my first two weeks, I saw Randy Fenoli for the first time. I freaked out!” she said. “I see him all the time now, and it is no big deal.”
The best part isn’t the glitz and glam of the cameras, though -- it’s the people.
Brides travel from all across the world to take part in the Kleinfeld bridal experience, so Marcotte said she is always hearing new stories of proposals and how couples met one another. She said the stories she hears are what make her job the most fulfilling.
“They are not just television characters,” she said. “They are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.”
As a consultant assistant, Marcotte, who works at Kleinfeld every day except Mondays and Wednesdays, helps make sure the bridal appointments go smoothly. She carries gowns, helps brides get in and out of their dresses and make sure they fit just right.
The shopping consultants job, in general, is to help take the stress of dress shopping off the bride; instead of her having to look through endless racks of gowns, the consultants get a grasp of an idea of what the bride wants for her gown and then hunt down the look she is after.
It’s not exactly as easy as it sounds, Marcotte said.
As seen on the show, family dynamics and opinions can sometimes overpower a bride’s vision for her gown. It’s the consultants’ job to stay out of the family business yet still find the perfect dress.
“You have to remember that this is the one day that most brides have been dreaming of since they were little girls,” she said.
Working at Kleinfeld is helping Marcotte fulfill a dream she’s had since she was a little girl, too, when she would sit in front of her television sketching out outfits from the characters she saw on TV. Her interest elevated even more when she saw a Betsey Johnson runway show, complete with models in blue and pink tutus doing cartwheels down the runway, on TV.
“That is when it hit me that fashion was something I wanted to be involved in.”
While she’s shied away from the actual designing of clothes, she wants to be involved in the corporate side of the production and retail process. She’s already started applying for assistant jobs in both Chicago and New York City. Without pursuing her master’s at Eastern, though, she would never had the opportunity at Kleinfeld or felt as prepared for the job market.
Marcotte, who also received her bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences at Eastern, said for her, pursuing her master’s degree was a win-win situation because not only was her tuition covered by an assistantship, she has grown professionally by writing a thesis and presenting at a retail conference. Overall, she said she now feels more mentally prepared for the job market.
Marcotte still keeps in touch with students attending Eastern, and many of them are still in awe that she is “actually doing the fashion thing in New York,” she said.
Everyone thinks her experience at Kleinfeld Bridal is surreal -- and it actually is, she said -- but it isn’t an impossible one.
“It is the best thing that has ever happened it me, but it is not impossible for opportunities like this one to arise for other students,” she said.
Marcotte said the jobs for students are out there; it just takes a little digging to find them.
“Do not pass up on awesome opportunities because you do not think you are qualified,” she said. “You are.”