The Capstone Experience: Final MBA Projects
posted by Paul Mucciarone
by Tara Robinson, MBA Student
One of most anticipated courses in the LIM College MBA is Capstone. This project allows MBA students to access all the tools and information learned throughout the program. The course revolves around real-world case study situations incorporating retailing and fashion merchandising along with financial, marketing and strategic plans. The students develop their own fashion or beauty business venture that they believe will be successful in the industry. The professor for this course was Patricia Hoeltge, the Graduate Studies Director of LIM College. She felt that one of the projects that especially stood out amongst the class was Curvators™, which was developed by a group composing of Kristal Davis, Shari Driver, Dionna Matlock and Cierra Sanders. Here is an interview with the team on their amazing business idea!
What is the name of your business and explain what it’s all about?
The name of our business is Curvators™. Curvators™ is an ecommerce platform that offers a unique shopping experience by globally sourcing independent plus-size designers and providing an engaging educational and social platform for its plus-size customers. Curvators™ aims to become the premier plus-size fashion authority that offers a one-stop-plus shopping experience unmatched by any retailer. Curvators™ e-commerce products have double benefits to both consumers and designers. Consumers are offered bolder and daring fashion forward trendy apparel based on their personality, while worthy plus-size designers maximizes brand visibility to help fill gross margin gaps. In addition, Curvators™ offers services that help to transition imagery of real models and fashion houses to mirror the everyday full-figured fashion consumer. It provides reputable wardrobe consultation services and an amazing CurV-Log social experience hosted by well-known fashion bloggers. Curvators™ goes further to reach its customer by partnering with non-plus size fashion designers to create exclusive small lines as a surprise flash sale.
Did you know what you were going to do when you started?
Initially, Kristal Davis came up with the idea. When we first started coming up with ideas for our capstone project, each one of us had our own great business venture. However, given the current need in the industry for a more concentrated focus on the plus-size market, we all agreed that the idea for Curvators would be the best one.
How did you come up with the idea?
We thought about what it means to be a plus-size consumer and the frustration of not having a consistent source of contemporary trendy fashion styles. One of our teammates is a plus-size fashionista and one of her main complaints as a consumer is the lack of style and sizes available for her to choose from when shopping. We were all familiar with other online retail sites like Sonsi and Madison Plus that cater to the plus-size customer, but the sites lacked a social media component that would help customers make the best styling decisions for their individual personality and body type. We wanted to develop a platform that married the concept of ecommerce with social media to provide a full range of service for our customer.
What sets it apart from the other capstone projects?
I believe our project truly focused on a niche market that has yet to be targeted by existing fashion brands. There are several brands that offer fashions to other market niches like maternity wear – a niche that was targeted by the capstone group Glammy, but we felt that Curvators is on the cusp of a new movement in fashion retailing, catering to the underserved market of the plus-size customer.
What were some of the difficulties you faced?
Time management was one of our biggest challenges. There was so much research and data available to help us identify our target market, but to "curate" through all the resources took a lot of time and effort from the team.
|MBA Student, Dionna Matlock was on the Curvators team. Learn more about Dionna and how she chose LIM College.|
How did this prepare you for the real world?
Fortunately, we were a very diplomatic group and we all listened to each other’s ideas with an open mind and critiqued each other on ideas that need further development. Occasionally, a creative difference would come up (i.e should we start source global designers right away or focus on domestic designers first), but we discussed the pros and cons of the issue until an agreement was made. Sometimes, ideas were revisited and we had to keep reminding each other about the overall mission and vision of Curvators.
How did you resolve your creative differences?
Preparing a business plan is a great way to really understand who you are as an entrepreneur. A business plan allows you to see the business idea in its entirety and not just the idea itself. It is a realistic approach to discovering if you really want to start the business and will you be able to handle the unforeseen struggles that come along during the startup phase. Overall, I believe this business plan preparation pushed each of us to go beyond our comfort levels and pushed our creative limits further than we otherwise thought were not possible.