AB: I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania. My major is nursing. I’m extremely easy to get along with, I’m a people person, love, love, love to have fun & laugh. My passion is fashion & clothes and it’s been that way since I was a little girl.
SS: Before we get into to the fun fashion stuff I wanted to touch on your personal life, only because I find it so critical to your story and our readers understanding of you. You recently experienced a great loss, please tell us about Michael and the love that you all shared.
AB: Michael was the best boyfriend! I’m not just saying this because he was my boyfriend. He had such a beautiful mind, caring & selfless heart, he was just amazing. We were together all the time and I enjoyed every second, even if we were feuding because he was just the most interesting person to me.
SS: He certainly sounds special! How did you meet?
AB: I met him when I used to run track for the Mt. Airy track team back when I was about 12 and he was 11. His neighbor ran on my track team so he and his friends would come to our track meets and practice to check out the “track girls.” He used to try to get my number back then but I used to laugh at him and say, “you’re a little boy, no”! I stopped running track so we kind of lost contact. However, he went to high school with my cousin and she use to always tell me Michael would ask her about me, and for my number but I never paid it any attention. Then, in the Summer of 2009 he found me on Facebook; I noticed how he had matured and grew up and it all started for there! Lol.
SS: Such a great love story! How long were you two together?
AB: Two years.
SS: What was something that you loved most about him?
AB: (1) His love for me. I never met someone at his age so into their girlfriend). He loved me so much and he made that known. His mom used always tell me, I can just tell how much he loves you by just the way he looks at you. He included me in everything. (2) His strength. I use to always admire his strength and how he handled hardships. He didn’t let them phase him ever. He would just find a solution and carry on.
SS: There’s nothing like a strong, passionate man. How did you find out the tragic news that he had passed?
AB: I was supposed to take the ride with him that resulted in his death but I feel asleep at his house. When I awoke from my nap, I called him twice and didn’t get an answer. After a while I couldn’t find him and I got a few calls that something was up. I had his laptop so I was able to track his iPhone. Then I typed the road where his phone allegedly was via Google and the first thing that popped up was a news clipping stating the tragedy.
SS: Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine that type of pain. How has your support system been throughout your grieving process? How crucial were they to your pushing through it?
AB: I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I have lots of love and support from my family, as well as his family–without them, and prayers there is no way I could have gotten through this.
AB: Michael LOVED the way I dressed. He called me gorgeous all the time. So I like to get dressed all the time now because I like to think he’s smiling down on me & saying “hey gorgeous” like he always did. And that keeps me going.
AB: He was best the boyfriend/life partner ever. I hope more young men will be inspired to be more like him: studious, ambitious and loving. Michael was so smart. He had an internship lined up for him at Vanguard this summer. He had big dreams of being an entrepreneur. I will continue his legacy and live out his dreams.
SS: He was lucky to have a woman who loved him as much as you do. Let’s talk about your dreams, how did you get your start in wardrobe-styling?
AB: After he died, the only thing besides praying that was easing my deep pain was directing my energy into styling myself. People began to recognize my style & jokingly asked me to style them. So through stylish efforts & word of mouth I began styling professionally.
AB: Like I said, Michael is my number one inspiration. But my mother is also very stylish too so we often will share ideas.
SS: Oh how cool is that! How would you describe your personal style?
AB: Original but more on the sophisticated chic side.
SS: What does fashion mean to you? How important do you personally find it to be?
AB: It’s my life. It’s really the only thing that distracts me from my pain.
SS: I’ve heard that the best way to get through grief is to, yes, accept it, but to also keep yourself busy. I’m glad to see you doing that. So of course you have GOT to provide a personal fashion tip for our readers!
AB: Be original! Go with you like and wear it with confidence!
SS: What is your dream or goal for your career as a stylist or any other endeavors that you have?
AB: My dream is not even to continue as stylist so much. My dream is to create & launch my women’s and men’s clothing line that I named Michael Marie. My middle name is Marie so that’s where the name comes from. I feel like me creating this line, is the only thing that will heal me because it would include me living both out dreams: Michael’s drive having his own, being an entrepreneur combined with my love for fashion, so it will be a combination of our dreams while continuing his legacy.
SS: What is your key to ‘Sincerely Lovin’ Life’?
AB: “Do what you love, and it won’t feel like work”. Michael used to tell me this ALL the time but I didn’t feed into then. But now, I finally understand! All of the things that I do with fashion, I absolutely love! And he was right, it does not feel like work to me!
– Sincerely Syreeta