MAPLEWOOD — Jessica Guillozet, of Maplewood, isn’t a fashion model.
Nevertheless, Stage Stores, owners of Sidney’s Peebles, is flying her to its corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas, next month for a photo shoot. They’ll get her ideas about style. The photos, pictures of clothing and accessories she selects and an article about her will be posted on the Stage blog at blog.stage.com.
Guillozet was selected as a Stage Stores Real Life/Real Style Woman.
The project came out of strategic planning discussions at the Stage Stores corporate level, according to Bria Lundy, director of public relations, events and community.
“The idea got talked out and it just grew,” she said by phone recently.
Bruce Darrell, Stage Stores creative director and a facilitator of the Real Life/Real Style program, said the project was designed to inspire and engage customers. The plan is to get customers to nominate women for recognition. To get it started, the 800 retail stores in the Stage Stores family, including the Sidney Peebles, were invited in April to submit nominations of women who appreciate fashion and make a difference in their families and communities.
Sidney Peebles manager Norma Jean Jones immediately thought of Guillozet.
“Jessica has a fashion show. She’s had it for two years. We’ve helped her with the fashion show by providing most of the clothes,” Jones said.
Guillozet works for the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities as its community connections coordinator. She developed a fashion show which showcases SCBDD clients as models. Those clients choose the outfits they want to model from the racks in Peebles. Guillozet solicits donations to cover the cost of the clothes, so that the models can keep what they’ve selected to wear in the show.
“I thought it was amazing what she did with her clients,” Jones said. “I explained (in the nomination) that we did a fashion show, that she takes time with each (client). It was a huge success. She works with them on a daily basis. She lights up their whole world when she does this.”
Jones also wrote that Guillozet, a Kiwanis Club member, advises the local Aktion Club, a Kiwanis group for people with developmental disabilities.
Darrell said when nominations come in, a committee vets them and selects candidates to ask for more information. Guillozet received a questionnaire in May.
“I had 12 questions I had to answer,” Guillozet said. The Stage Stores committee wanted to know about her hobbies, interests and family and what a typical day was like for her. They asked her to describe her style — “a mixture of Bohemian, retro and hip,” Guillozet wrote; where she finds style inspiration — “clothing stores”; and why she thinks style is important.
“Style is extremely important because it is sometimes your first and only impression when meeting people for the first time,” Guillozet wrote. “Style can be used to express yourself and your sense of style. Your personal style should be a direct reflection of yourself and your heart and can boost self esteem. Every person is unique: how one chooses to style is the ultimate portrayal of self.”
She sent off her answers and forgot about them.
“Five months went by and I got a call,” she said. At the time, she was on her way out of a regional advocacy meeting in Miami County. Guillozet went a little crazy at the news that she’d been selected for a trip to Houston and the photo shoot.
“I called my husband at school (Frank is a teacher). I started screaming,” she laughed. She screamed some more when she called Jones.
“My day wasn’t going real bright,” Jones remembered. “I was overwhelmed, so happy for her. I was crying.”
Guillozet is excited about the upcoming trip. She’ll fly to Houston — the second time in her life that she will be on a plane — Oct. 10. She will travel alone and plans to do some sightseeing in Houston while she is in Texas.
But she admits to being a little nervous.
“I’m afraid I’m going to get lost. I’m nervous about flying, about leaving my family,” she said. She and husband have two daughters, Miah, 9, and Charlee Grace, 2.
Nerves aside, Guillozet hopes the blog post and video will give her a platform to shine the limelight on her fashion show models.
“(Real Life/Real Style) is about (Stage Stores). It’s about their company. But to me, it’s a bigger picture. It’s the people we serve (at SCBDD), it’s Shelby County, it’s Maplewood,” she said. She has sent photos to Darrell of the Sidney fashion show and would like to get them included on the blog post.
“I’m excited to share with the world what I do and how important it is,” Guillozet said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.