Rutgers professor promotes youth empowerment in the fashion industry
After spending more than 30 years working in higher education, Muriel Grimmett, adjunct professor in the Department of Africana Studies, is balancing her lecturer position with her own business in the fashion industry.
As a former administrator, the semi-retired Grimmett has fulfilled one of her greatest aspirations by working as an independent consultant for Carlisle Collection, a designer clothing brand geared toward women.
Grimmett has not entirely let go of her work at Rutgers though. This semester, she is teaching one section of “Politics and Power in Modern Africa” on Douglass campus for the Department of Africana Studies.
Emphasizing she is “more than one thing,” Grimmett said in all of her jobs, past and present, she has strived to work with young people in order to encourage them to be as good as they can be.
“I have spent my career working and enjoying and seeing young people who are bright and intelligent,” she said. “[I] see myself as a person who empowers them to do their personal best.”
Grimmett tries her best to bridge the gap between her clashing academic and professional spheres. Although on the surface it appears her contributions to academia and the fashion industry are entirely unrelated, Grimmett asserted both jobs complement each other rather well.
After putting in a lot of work to find a secure job to support her family, the professor is happy to currently be working for Rutgers and Carlisle. The jobs allow her to live two of her greatest dreams.
Grimmett’s job at Carlisle permits her to live her entrepreneurial aspirations, but Rutgers helped put her children through higher education, she said.
Grimmett’s work in her respective fields brought up the question of whether she is a role model.
The professor believes she has a responsibility to act as a mentor for her students. She presents the Carlisle brand with a coinciding sense of youth and female empowerment.
“In my early 20s and 30s, [someone] took me under their wing and helped me get my master’s and doctorate,” she said. “I was mentored, and at this stage in my life, I should be doing the same.”
Grimmett has managed to balance several large commitments both at Rutgers and at Carlisle. She has taken advantage of a more flexible schedule to work for Carlisle, while still working to encourage today’s youth to strive for their personal best.
“We have a responsibility not only to help, look good and enjoy the clothing we have. We also have a responsibility to be good people, to work [and] to use the education from a school like Rutgers for the betterment of society,” Grimmett said.
Kathleen Gilly, northeast district manager and sales consultant for Carlisle, said Grimmett’s drive and demeanor were well suited for the consulting job.
The professor’s positive attitude towards her students has also been observed in her work with Carlisle, said Gilly, who recruited Grimmett.
Gilly admires the professor’s focus on female empowerment and passion for the Carlisle brand’s clothing. She also took interest in Grimmett’s extensive reach in terms of appealing to a new customer base, particularly in the East Brunswick area.
“[Carlisle] always likes to have the positive ‘go-getter” type, and [Grimmett] was very qualified,” Gilly said. “She’s involved in a lot of different organizations, which gives her a lot of accessibility to many different types of women. She’s a great representative for us.”
In the short time she has been working for Carlisle, Grimmett has received positive recognition from the company. Although she essentially runs her own business as an independent consultant for the brand, she is continuously provided with all the resources she needs to succeed.
“She’s just been wonderful, and it’s a great opportunity to build something for her,” Gilly said. “We [at Carlisle] are here to help her and give her all of the tools she needs, but she’s following in our timeline and the footsteps that we have taught her.”