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CEO Speaker Series: Bud Konheim, Nicole Miller

 

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Our most recent addition to the CEO Speaker Series was CEO and co-founder of Nicole Miller, Bud Konheim. Along with Mr. Konheim came Andrea Marron, Director of E-commerce and Retail. They chatted with the MBA and MPS students of LIM College. Director of Graduate Studies, Jacqueline Jenkins, introduced the keynote speakers.

CEO with J.jenkinsFrom left to right: Bud Konheim, CEO and Co-founder of Nicole Miller, Jacqueline Jenkins, Graduate Studies Director, Dr. Christopher Cyphers, Executive Vice President of LIM College

Mr. Konheim started by mentioning four real life stories he wanted to tell the MBA and MPS students. Each story had a point behind it. He begins his first story about how me met Nicole Miller and how teaming up with her introduced innovation for the Nicole Miller company. “Were standing on an acre of diamonds, and were not dumb to bend down and pick them up”, Bud Konheim mentions. 

Nicole Miller CEO

Bud Konheim’s entire career was built around recognizing and seizing the opportunities he was presented with.  He began his second story about how the Nicole Miller Company entered the tie business. One day, Nicole Miller was drawing a print which featured a bundle of theater tickets and one of the tickets had the letters MET across it, representing a ticket from the Metropolitan Opera House. They had ordered a bunch of dresses with this print and you if you can imagine, they were loud and disastrous. It was Bud’s genius idea, an opportunity that no one expected would be so profitable, to request a tie to be made out this loud print to accompany his quirky sense of style. A few days later they had 36 ties with this one of kind print. At that point in the world, everyone was wearing navy and red striped ties with white shirts and navy suits, very MAD MENish. No one deviated from that color scheme. Recently opening up Nicole Miller Madison Avenue location, which still stands, they sent the ties not knowing what to do with them but sell them off as belts or a dog leashes. A gentleman shopping in the store asked to borrow one of the ties who conveniently happened to be the guard at the Metropolitan Opera House. The buyer of the gift shop went back to the Madison Avenue store purchased the remaining ties and because it was a great success at the gift shop she requested an order of 300 more ties.  

“Innovation is around you all the time, there’s not a piece of anything that is lost if you suck it all in and use it.” - Bud Konheim

Nicole knew she had fun drawing prints of subway tokens, Chiclet boxes pretty much anything from the bottom of her purse. This led to million dollar tie deals that were selling Nicole Miller ties at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales without making one sales call. Popularity grew because of the boldness of prints and this directed Nicole Miller focus to create a new print featuring baseball, football and basketball sports. A phone call from Larry Bird, who persistently requested a tie featuring his jersey, led to the creation of the story about the “thousand dollar tie” by Nicole Miller that landed the pages of Sports Illustrated.

“A really good designer isn’t a snappy talker. A good designer is visual.” - Bud Konheim

Nicole Miller logo 2

“Having the passion and motivation makes you a great designer”- Bud Konheim

Bud’s third story was about how Nicole Miller sub-labeled her designs with JC Penny. After discussing with Nicole, Bud’s point was that if the company wanted to sell America, it would take a risk to start distributing in JC Penny. Currently their clients were Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and more, but that’s was only a small fraction of America for the prices of their fashions. Bud feared for the Nicole Miller Company because the last time a designer had sub-labelled with a huge retailer was Halston and that didn’t turn out good at all.  “It’s risky. Do we want to take that kind of a risk?” Bud questioned. In May 2005 the line was launched and publically announced during the Academy Awards of that year. Patiently waiting, in his suit of armor, that one of Nicole Miller biggest clients would drop the company, Neiman Marcus, Bud Konheim's deal with JC Penny released Nicole by Nicole Miller and it was a success. That was the start of the designer collaborations, where every designer wanted to be involved in.

“There’s’ opportunity every single day. Recognize it when it comes along.”- Bud Konheim

Bud Konheim’s fourth story brings him to current day and how Andrea Marron has taken Nicole Miller to being an E-commerce leading company. A fe years back, he received a call from Dartmouth Business School about a student who is interested in interning at a fashion company and he gladly agreed. Andrea Marron, received an internship at Nicole miller and impressed Bud very much. She was so educated about the technology revolution that was taking over the fashion industry. Immediately, he recognized her talent and offered her a job at Nicole Miller. Andrea replied by saying she was offered a job at Google. “Why would you want to be a little fish in a big pond? Here you’ll be a big star!”, as he pleaded her to join the company.

CEO and Director of Ecommerce

After 59 years at Nicole Miller, Bud had never thought of capitalizing on the runway. Andrea took the initiative to house their own e-commerce sector within Nicole Miller rather than outsourcing it to a third party. This strategically gave Nicole Miller a competitive advantage where they fulfill orders, create web development programs and media campaigns faster and quicker than ever before.  Allowing the company to be more tech focused and savvy.

 “The new era is not about the editors and the magazines, but about social media, the internet and the customers.” - Bud Konheim

Nicole Miller’s new collection Artelier derives from the beauty of the palace of Versailles and the rebels of the French Revolution. The collection was inspired from women revolutionaries who stormed the palace of Versailles that were throwing Marie Antoinette clothes, jewels and plates all over the place. The collection is decadent and opulent but also edgy and rebellious feel to it.   

“I never had a dull day” at Nicole Miller  – Bud Konheim

A Sweet Fashion Show

 

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LIM College’s "Confectory: A Sweet Story of Fashion" show took place on Friday, April 4th. Graduate and undergraduate students strutted down a sugary runway in outfits that were inspired by the childhood pastime game, Candyland. The event was held at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom and was hosted by celebrity host and blogger, Micah Jesse. Micah mentions on Twitter, “I am thrilled to be hosting!”

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The stage was creatively decorated with large lollipops and oversized gumdrops. The show highlighted Candyland’s different characters such as Queen Frostine, who was covered in icy blue swirls and sparkles. Beauty sponsor, Make Up For Ever, dedicated their time and effort in doing the makeup to the models of the show. The Fashion Show Production team, the Styling Club, the Visual Merchandising Club and the Dance Team all contributed to the show.

host, micah jesse

host, micah jesse Micah Jesse

Five graduate students modeled in the show, of them were Keithen Polk and Rachit Dhingra. Both of them are in their first term of the MPS Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management graduate program. Keithen Polk, who is from Farrell, Pennsylvania, stated that being part of the show contributed to his graduate experience because, “It helps me gain volunteer experience by being able to participate without having to get paid. It’s a great asset to a potential employers. That shows integrity.” Keithen also mentioned that, “participating in this event just helped me to realize one more interest I would like to do in the future”. Rachit Dhingra, who hails all the way from Delhi, India, told LIM College that his favorite part about the show was “walking the runway – it was a dream come true” and he overcame his nerves “through practice, practice and a lot more practice”. After the show, Rachit mentioned, “I would love to be a part of fashion production or anything related to that.”

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Ekaterina Rosliakova and Keithen Polk, MPS Students 



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Keithen Polk and Rachit Dhingra, MPS Students

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Swati Singh, Ekaterina Rosliakova and Martrecia Alleyne, MPS students (left to right)
 

Life after MBA: Nicole Lewis, TURN NYC Owner

 
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When graduate school slowly comes to an end... many are thankful for the end of sleepless nights and writing 40 page business plans for the Capstone course. The last thing on graduate students’ minds is starting a business. For Nicole Lewis, it was just the opposite. In her last few months leading to graduation, a creative and lucrative business idea was born. She completed her MBA and opened a start-up, TURN NYC, a rotating designer boutique that will showcase a unique set of designers monthly. Big things are ahead for LIM College MBA alumna, Nicole Lewis.  

For Nicole, moving to NYC and aspiring to start her own business was her vision. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, the entrepreneurial spirit landed her at LIM College Center for Graduate Studies to pursue an MBA degree. In her entry interview with Paul Mucciarone, associate director of graduate admissions, Nicole mentioned “I saw an ad on the subway”, about applying to LIM Grad program. 

Nicole Lewis, TURN NYC Owner

Partially stemming from owning an Etsy account, an online boutique selling handmade handbags, Nicole knew she wanted to open up her own business. At the same time she needed to keep working her forty-hour-per-week job to pay her bills and live in NYC.  Sewing and fashion was on top of her list and coming to LIM College would help her learn the business behind starting a fashion collection. Knowing all the components that go into designing, Nicole felt there was a lack of resources for designers once they have their collections ready. Nicole stated, “People need somewhere to sell their stuff and be spotlighted in a store” and that’s where she came up with the idea of TURN NYC. Being in grad school gave birth to this ingenious idea that will help new designers showcase their collections, create a community of followers and have a drink or two while networking.“I had no plans of going to grad school. It is as if the ad on the train spoke to me. I thought, fashion entrepreneurship is exactly what I should be doing!” Coming in with the creative side, Nicole craved the business side. “People in fashion have one or the other”.

LIM's graduate alumni and students are a double edged sword and Nicole is ready to cut through the business and creative cloths.

“I loved LIM’s free seminars”, Adobe Photoshop to E-commerce Marketing Techniques, they help gear up student’s creative juices. “I would not have guessed a year and a half ago that I would be able to write a forty page business plan”. Business plans seemed daunting to Nicole. She advises current LIM grad students to break it down into pieces. She especially liked the networking opportunities of having industry professionals as mentors, attending events, where professors like David Freschman, CEO of FashInvest, helped students get out there and mingle.  "He threw us in the deep end to swim on our own but at the same time he maintained a safe school environment with my fellow swimmies”.

“I plan on scooping up a few fellow LIMers for TURN NYC” - Nicole Lewis

 

Nicole's Capstone Presentation of TURN NYC at LIM COLLEGE

Turn NYC will feature about four to five different designers monthly. Nicole’s “liquid” space, would allow designers to collaborate as little or as much with Nicole to create the ideal layout for their collection. “Negotiating with buyers is scary and a lot of work”, Nicole mentioned. TURN NYC would give a designer the freedom and peace of mind knowing their collection is just as important as other designer collections out there.

Nicole is the ultimate Renaissance woman. She would handle everything from lining up designers ahead of time, partnering with bloggers and sending out press releases for designer launches and events.  At the end of the month, the designer can turn over their merchandise to the TURN NYC website and sell it online. Nicole would like TURN NYC to be located in a shopping destination, but finding an affordable space in NYC is almost impossible. Her vision is to start a pop-up shop, possibly in Williamsburg, giving access to the metro area habitants from all corners of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. In five years, Nicole envisions having a store in New York City and Miami. Having the store would allow Nicole a platform to launch her own designs. 

“This is experiential retail!” - Nicole Lewis

Nicole is relying on Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, to raise money for her business. “Kickstarter brings to life the creative and innovative ideas of project creators through the support of a community. Every project creator sets their funding goals and a deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.” (Kickstarter, Inc. , 2014) Nicole’s Kickstarter campaign did not reach its goal, but it didn’t diminish her will to continue to find the money to open up TURN NYC. Nicole is now re-evaluating her funding to start TURN NYC with her own capital while continuing to use Kickstarter.

 

References

Kickstarter, Inc. . (2014, March 11). Kickstarter FAQs. Retrieved from Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com

 

MBA vs. MPS: Making the Right Decision

 

LIM College recently introduced a new graduate degree program: the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management. By offering an array of graduate degrees, our students have the ability to choose the program that caters to their individual career goals in the fashion industry.

Since there are now two master's degree programs that focus on the fashion business, many prospective students want to know which degree program is the better one to fit their needs.

LIM College graduate student in class learning advanced concepts of fashion merchandising.

The MBA has two distinct concentrations: Fashion Management and Entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship concentration will benefit anyone who is looking to start their own business venture, or looking to take their existing fashion venture to a higher level. The classes featured within this concentration are designed to provide you with the knowledge on how to launch a business, attract investors, grow the business, and ensure its continued success. 

On the flip side of the MBA is the Fashion Management concentration. A student pursuing the Fashion Management concentration is aiming for the executive level. The end goal of these students is to become the person in charge of strategic initiatives in a fashion company. This concentration is for someone who envisions becoming a leader, boldly taking a business towards its goals.

The MPS in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management has a narrower focus. This degree was designed to empower its students to transition into the fashion industry by entering into the fields of retail management, buying, fashion forecasting, or retailing. The curriculum consists of courses in merchandising, product development, visual merchandising, and branding.

What's the best way to know which program is right for you? The answer comes from talking it out. Give me a call (646-218-4124) or send me an message. By discussing your career goals and ambitions as a professional in the fashion business, I can advise you on making the right choice for the best graduate program for you.  

 

LIM College Graduate Students Come from All Over the World

 

MBA students from China and Venezuela pose at our fashion industry career fair.

Pictured here are MBA students Riki Tang from China and Patricia Gomez from Venezuela.

If you walk into any of our graduate classrooms and introduce yourself, you are likely meet students from all over the world. Our MBA students come from a multitude of countries: China, Brazil, Venezuela, India, Indonesia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Thailand, Italy, South Korea, Bermuda, Bahamas, Spain, and Australia.

International students bring a unique perspective and add value to classroom discussions. The fashion industry is truly a global business and LIM College's MBA program prepares its students to understand the increasingly international fashion business.

The internship is a very important part of the MBA and MPS programs. This is a chance to get a unique experience in a top fashion company. We currently have a Braziilian MBA student who is interning at Versace. We had two MBA students from Thailand complete their internships at Gucci.  The possibilities for work experience in the fashion industry in New York are very good. Our MBA students have also interned at Chanel, Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada...the list could go on and on!

Our MBA student from China, Li Xiong, started the MBA program in March of 2012. She is now beginning the search for her internship experience. She is currently looking into a possible opportunity with luxury brand Lanvin. She has consulted with our career counselor on her best options. Asking Li about her experience in the MBA program, she replied, "I love it. I am interviewing and hoping to work with a brand that I have always admired! The career counselor Nancianne has been very helpful, and so has our school's job database, Symplicity! I did have interviews with a few companies, such as Derek Lam, Elie Tahari, a fashion magazine, and a PR company. Now the Lanvin interview opportunity makes me so thrilled and I can’t wait for it! My fingers are crossed, wish me good luck !"

Studying in New York presents so many opportunities in the fashion business. That's why LIM College is in the ideal place to help you develop the fashion career you want. Aside from the professional opportunities, there's nothing like life in New York City! 

 Li Xiong, from China, is our MBA student. Here she is preparing to speaking with a top fashion company at our career fair. 

MBA Student from China, Li Xiong, is searching for her first internship in the fashion industry. In this picture Li is at our Career Fair speaking with a fashion industry recruiter.

As the admissions counselor for our graduate programs, I am your point of contact so that you can get all the information you need to make a good decision. I have worked with many applicants from many countries and I can answer your questions about visas, internships, life at LIM College, life in New York, classes, and other aspects of your big move to the USA. The process of applying, getting accepted, and making the moving arrangements can be quite overwhelming. I will guide you so that you know all the steps toward making your dream to grow in the fashion industry into a reality. 

If you are an international student, LIM College welcomes you and will give you a meaningful experience here in New York City.  If you have any questions about applying to our graduate programs, please email me at GraduateStudies@limcollege.edu and ask!

Want to get to know more international students at LIM College? Read about our undergraduate student from Hong Kong, Aaron Ku, and his experience interning at Chanel.

For information about applying to our graduate programs as an international student, please view our detailed information about international admission.

Off the Ice and onto the Runway: The Unlikely Pairing of Brawn and Beauty

 

Off the Ice and onto the Runway: The Unlikely Pairing of Brawn and Beauty

By Natalie M. Oshin, MBA Student

As a student of LIM, it goes without saying that I have a passion for fashion.  However, it may not be as evident, based on my petite frame, high-pitched voice, and bubbly personality, that the sport of ice hockey also plays an important role in my life.  In high school, I played for two years on the boys’ varsity ice hockey team, and later when on to play for the women’s club team at the University of Pennsylvania.  For the last 3 years, I have been a volunteer coach for the nonprofit organization Ice Hockey in Harlem, the main objective of which is to improve the social and academic wellbeing of children from the Harlem community through participation in ice hockey.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with ice hockey, it tends to be a very expensive sport; the cost of ice time, equipment, and club fees can add up to more than $1,000 per child, per season!  Since 1987, Ice Hockey in Harlem has helped thousands of children participate in a sport that would otherwise be financially unavailable to them. 

 Design competition

 To fund its efforts, Ice Hockey in Harlem hosts several fundraisers throughout the year, consisting of golf outings, dinner parties, and an annual sports auction.  Historically, I have not been involved with these events; my main contribution to the program has always been the time I spend with the kids on the ice.  However, when I got an email announcing that Ice Hockey in Harlem’s next fundraising event would be Fashion Faceoff, a hockey-inspired fashion show and design competition, I knew that this would be one event that I absolutely could not miss.

Design competition

Only seldom do the worlds of ice hockey and fashion collide.  The most famous intersection of brawn and beauty can be credited to former New York Rangers player, Sean Avery.  In 2008, Avery was a popular player in the NHL, whose celebrity crossed over into the New York City social and fashion scenes.  Avery made national headlines when it was announced that he would be spending the summer off-season that year interning at Vogue magazine.  An article in Women’s Wear Daily, written about the interesting career move, describes Avery as "a self-confessed clotheshorse who has been known to give girlfriends advice on how to dress, and in interviews has expressed a dream to become a fashion editor after his days on the ice.”  The following year, Avery tried his hand at designing, working with men's fashion label Commonwealth Utilities to present a clothing line for Fashion Week in New York City.  In early 2012, Avery was a guest judge on Lifetime’s Project Runway All-Stars, and later that year, he served as the face of Hickey Freeman's Spring/Summer 2012 ad campaign. 

 

Although Avery’s foray into fashion is the most well-known, other NHL players have also shown an interest in the field.  In 2008, Alexander Ovechkin, decorated captain of the Washington Capitals, launched the Ovechkin Designer Street Wear Collection for men in collaboration with hockey brand CCM and designer Roger Edwards.  Three years later, accomplished New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist took home the “Most Stylish Athlete” award at the 9th annual Style Awards, and has topped numerous best dressed lists.  Entire NHL teams are also stepping off the ice and onto the runway.  At the end of 2011, the NHL’s New York Rangers signed a surprising sponsorship deal with DKNY, allowing the fashion brand to adorn the team’s practice jerseys with its recognizable logo.  (If my instincts are correct, that will simply be the first of many similar deals to come in future seasons.)

 

Ice Hockey in Harlem’s September 4th Fashion Faceoff fundraiser was the latest example of the ever-increasing overlap between hockey and fashion.  Taking place at the posh Manhattan nightclub, Providence, the fashion competition brought together key players from both arenas.  In attendance were retired NHL players Chris and Peter Ferraro, and Italian designer and socialite Maria Valentino.  The event’s judges included E.J. Johnston, creator and executive producer of NBC’s hit show Fashion Star, Ville Leino, a forward for the Buffalo Sabres NHL franchise, and Nova Lorraine, founder and editor of Raine magazine.  For the event, ten designers were invited to create a collection composed of three looks inspired by hockey team colors, logos, or anything else related to the sport. 

 

Featured designers included Dania Richardson, Kayty Turpin, Wickett Ophelia, Jene Stefaniak, Malinda Williams, Rebecca Bernstein, Paola Richardo, Brina Stella, Arzu Akcay, and Keon Brown.  Although she did not place in the top three, one of the designers whose work I though was most impressive was Malinda Williams of Oakland, California.  While a clear connection to hockey was not immediately evident in the majority of the designers’ work, Williams’ men’s jacket and shorts combo was the exception.  Inspired by the red and blue lines on a hockey rink, Williams designed a simple, yet innovative look, without being too literal in her interpretation.  By the judges’ assessment, the big winner of the evening was Keon Brown of Paterson, New Jersey.  Brown was inspired by the New Jersey Devils, “with its wickedly chic details, bold color, and sassy silhouettes.”  His three designs received top honors, earning him the grand prize of a 2-page fashion spread in Raine magazine.

 

MBA student fashion charity event 

Although I did not take part in the competition as a featured designer, I was inspired to create a design of my own, which I wore to the event.  My design was a strapless cocktail dress, made from my old practice jerseys and hockey skate laces.  Since the dress was so traditional in its design, only upon closer inspection did some people actually recognize the materials I had used.  Based upon who commented on my dress, I was able to determine the true hockey fans in attendance.  The dress was such a hit, perhaps I’ll create some more pieces and start a collection for other hockey-playing fashionistas.  (There have got to me more of us out there, right?)

 MBA student's fashion design

 

 

My takeaway from Ice Hockey in Harlem’s Fashion Faceoff event was that the seemingly polar worlds of ice hockey and fashion are not as separate as we once thought.  Upon chatting with some of the organizers after the event, I learned that initially not everyone was convinced a fashion-themed hockey fundraiser would draw enough interest as some of the organization’s more traditional events.  However, the event proved to be a huge success, bringing together an eclectic mix of athletes, designers, philanthropists, and fashion enthusiasts, all for a worthy cause. 

My advice to both the hockey and the fashion worlds is to take notice.  Hockey players are a unique breed of athlete.  As much as we don’t mind shedding sweat and blood for an overtime goal, we still care that our hair looks good when we take off our helmets.  As much as we poke fun at Sean Avery for his stint at Vogue and his preoccupation with his physical appearance, at least he’s honest about being so vain.  Hell, there’s a reason hockey tape comes in so many colors, and why Ovechkin’s CCM skates from two years ago (with the yellow laces) are still available for sale in every size online.  Whether we admit it or not, we as hockey players care about fashion.  Not until we proudly fess up to this taboo interest can we begin to capitalize on the untapped white space at the intersection of brawn and beauty. 

winning design 

 

Seeing China from a Fashionable Perspective

 

LIM College's 2013 China Study Tour was an opportunity to experience China from a cultural, historical, and fashionable perspective. This year the trip took place during the first half of June. Several of LIM College's graduate students took part in the journey.

MBA student, Natalie Oshin describes her obersvations about Chinese cultural and business. Furthermore, she explains how studying abroad, even short-term, can be a life-changing experience. 

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How did you enjoy your experience in China?

While I risk sounding trite, I would not be truthful if I described my experience in China as anything but life-changing.  When I embarked on this journey, it had been almost 10 years since I had last traveled overseas.  Having missed the opportunity to study abroad as an undergraduate, I was looking forward to immersing myself in a foreign culture—the language, the food, the customs, and most importantly, the people.  The two weeks we spent traveling between five cities—Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Wuzhen, and Shanghai—gave me the opportunity to do just that.  The mix of sightseeing, cultural activities, and business visits allowed me to see China from a different perspective than that portrayed in the American
media.  I was able to witness firsthand a culture deeply rooted in tradition, but also at the forefront of innovation and change.  It is definitely a place I would like to visit again. 

Which cultural experience did you most enjoy?

Visiting the Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi’an, which the Chinese have proudly dubbed “The 8th Wonder of the World,” was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Standing in a room the size of two and a half football fields, with over 6,000 life-size terracotta soldiers, was a surreal experience.  What was truly impressive is the fact that no two soldiers had the same face!  It was also interesting to learn that the museum was built directly on top of the site where the first soldiers were discovered; it is in effect a “live exhibit,” since museum-goes can watch as archaeologists unearth more buried soldiers right before their eyes.    

Which experience will add the most value your MBA degree?

The experience I feel will add the most to my MBA degree was our business visit to Alfilo, a brand licensing firm co-founded by LIM graduate, Richard Kisembo.  While working at Iconix Brand Group, Richard had the opportunity to brush shoulders with famed Chinese investor, Silas Chao.  Chao shared with him an important insight regarding a major difference between the American and Chinese cultures.  According to Chao, Chinese people place a very high value on ownership, which he believes is why traditional brand licensing models are not successful in China.  With this valuable knowledge, Richard and his business partners founded Alfilo, in an attempt to reinvent the way brand licensing is conducted in China.  His team pioneered the “license to joint venture” model, which enables Chinese business partners to earn partial ownership of an American brand over a three year period.  Richard’s story was extremely inspiring to me, not only because he was able to become a successful entrepreneur at such a young age, but because it changed my perspective on what it means to be an innovator.  Richard taught me that you don’t necessarily need to invent a product to be a visionary; sometimes it’s as simple as retooling an existing idea to make it applicable to a foreign market.

How does the fashion industry in China differ from the US?

Quite a few things about China’s fashion industry stood out to me as being different from that of the US.  For one, there is a much larger focus on men’s skincare as a standalone category.  While there are a few specialty shops in the US that offer male-specific products, in China every drug store has a large men’s skincare section, and in Sephora, almost as much space is devoted to men’s products as women’s.  Another observation is that the overall vibe of women’s fashion is much more feminine than in the US.  At the department stores we visited, I felt as if I were lost in a labyrinth of pastels, ruffles, and brocade.  On the street, it was very rare that we saw a Chinese woman wearing flats.  Women driving mopeds and pedaling traditional bicycles all seemed to be wearing some type of heeled shoe, with platforms being the most popular choice.  While the trends in China may be different, the love of fashion seems to transcend culture, as evidenced by a fight I witnessed between two women reaching for the same shirt at a Zara in Shanghai.   

What experience did you find the most surprising?

Most surprising to me was the hospitality I experienced from a Chinese family the night we spent in Wuzhen.  Kelsey, another student on the trip, and I went out together in search of a place to eat dinner, but we were having trouble communicating with the restaurant staff who did not speak English.  A Chinese family that was just sitting down overheard our struggles, and invited us to join them at their table.  The 25-year-old daughter spoke English relatively well, and helped us order vegetarian dishes.  At the end of the meal, we tried to pay, but the family would not accept our money.  After treating us to dinner, they invited us to join them for dessert and drinks at a bar with live music.  We had a blast!  We were incredibly grateful that night for the kindness of strangers who shared with us a piece of their family vacation.    

 

 

The Capstone Experience: Final MBA Projects

 

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 in Fashion Management, Dionna Matlock
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.

 

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How Do I find an Apartment in New York?!

 
An LIM College MBA Student Guide to Finding a Place in the City
By: Tara Robinson, MBA Student
You somehow completed the GMAT, finished your application and have painfully waited to hear the response that will determine the next 15 months or more of your life. Then that email comes and YOU’RE IN! You now have the “Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys playing in the back of your mind simultaneously with scenes from The Devil Wears Prada
You then stop your moment of glee, MID happy dance; to the painful reality that you have no place to live! Take some deep breaths and continue your happy dance because just 4 months ago I was in your shoes. This post will give you all the dos, don’ts and all the stuff I wish I knew 4 months ago.
First thing first, create a budget to know what your price range is before you start looking for apartments. Don’t start looking at these amazing apartments and then realize it’s completely out of your budget, trust me it’s too painful for one soul to bare. If you have a roommate in mind you’re on the right track! If you don’t, you can contact us so that we can put you in contact with other students who are looking for roommates as well. Also use the Facebook groups and pages as resource to meet other students.  
Okay now that that’s out of the way there are a few things you need to know about apartment hunting in NYC. 
  • Don’t start looking until about three to four weeks before your move in date. I know this one is a tough one but apartments go off the market quickly in New York. If you look at something months before it probably won’t be there when you’re looking again. I do advise that you make a list of areas you want to live in or possible buildings that list availabilities.  Boroughs such as Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx are good alternatives when looking for more space and lower rents than you will be able to find in the city. 
  • Make sure you check the commute from your apartment to LIM College (type in Maxwell Hall’s address because this is where all your classes will be) and make sure there is public transportation nearby .
  • You don’t need a two bedroom apartment just at apartment that can fit two bedrooms! This is a trick you will learn in New York, some apartment buildings will let you put up a flex/pressurized wall that can separate a space and make a 1 bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom. This can cost you up to 700-950 depending on which company you use. This includes the door and taking the wall down when you move out! This is what I’ve done in my apartment because we had a huge living room and my room is actually bigger than my roommate’s. If you know you want to do a flex wall make sure you call them as soon as you find an apartment because they can take a while. Also ask your leasing office what contracts or forms the wall company will need to present in order for them to put up the wall.
  • Try to avoid using a broker! There are a lot of apartment hunting websites that will show you great buildings. However, you then have to contact the broker to view the apartment and each apartment will have a different broker and a different broker's fee! You can end up paying thousands in broker fees. So avoid these sites because it’s an unnecessary additional cost to finding an apartment. Here’s a list of websites that can help you avoid those pesky fees. Also if you can find the name of the apartment contact the leasing office yourself! (Envision Miranda in that scene in Sex and the City following the movers with the couch. You have to be aggressive!)
  • Have a co-signer in mind!  Let's say that you and your roomie have found the perfect apartment and it’s time to fill out the application PAUSE; you don’t make enough money for the apartment to approve you and you need a co-signer. This is one of the many annoying parts about apartment hunting in New York as soon as you find an apartment and contact them they expect you to have all the documents and applications done in the next 1-3 days (not business days!) or they will put the apartment back on the market. So it’s really important that you have all your information ready so that you don’t miss the perfect apartment when you finally find it. Here’s a list of documents that you  and your co-signer/guarantor will typically need:
    • Recent pay stub
    • Identification
    • Letter of employment/enrollment letter 
    • Copy of two or three recent bank states
    • Fill out an application (SSN# for background check and credit check)

      *Listen up International Students! What if you don’t have a cosigner or your co-signer is out of country? Most apartments in New York will not take out of country co-signers (still ask) but don’t worry you do have other options.

      1. Some Apartments will let you pay up to 6months-1yr up front if you don’t have a co-signer. Always offer 6 months first then up to a year.

      2. Some apartments cater to alien residents like the Avalon apartments so look up your country’s embassy in New York and ask them what apartments their diplomats live in.

  • If any of the previous steps haven’t worked for you should think about subleasing a room for a while until you can find a more permanent location. Craigslist is a great resource for subleasing rooms. Just make sure that you meet anyone from Craigslist in a public area!
  • Say all hope is lost and you just can’t find a place or don’t want the hassle, then there is always on-campus housing.  It’s on a first come first serve basis. Also keep in mind it will be the typical college dorm room.
LIM College fashion business students live and work in New York City USA

MBA Students Attend Panel Disucssion on Fashion Week Technology

 

Fashion 2.0: The Digital Evolution of Fashion Week
by Laurie Espino, MBA student at LIM College

Just a few years ago, Fashion Week was an exclusive, by-invitation event that was reserved for elite editors and journalists. These days, just about everyone can have access to the latest designer shows and collections thanks to the infinite advancements of the digital age. Social media is one of those new digital toys that have changed the way the world sees Fashion Week.

As a fashion journalist, I was blown away by the amount of social responsibilities we now hold to our readers: they turn to our Tweets to get style details; they check our Instagram posts to get an inside look at what designers are showing. Live tweeting has become so common at fashion shows that we hardly have enough attention span to actually watch the collection being displayed before us. Pretty crazy since that’s the main reason why we were sent to shows, right?

During my post-NYFW recovery, I attended Style Coalition’s Fashion 2.0: The Digital Evolution of Fashion Week. The panel was led by Style Coalition Founder & CEO Yuli Ziv, and featured industry leaders from all parts of the fashion industry. There was BuzzFeed Fashion Editor Amy Odell, DVF’s EVP of Marketing & Communications Michelle Horowitz, Fashion GPS’ Director of Sales Jill Melz, and WGSN Trend Forecasting Editor Rachel Arthur. Each panel member shared their personal and professional experience with the growing advancements of social media. It was great getting to hear about the digital revolution of fashion, and how it affects different business segments. As an MBA student who hopes to advance in this very area of the fashion industry, I found the experience to be priceless.

Fashion 2.0 was just one of the many events MBA students have the opportunity to attend. Our next event will be the CEO Roundtable Series with Brant Cryder, President of YSL America.

Photo Credit: Jillian Bove, http://www.meetup.com/fashion20/photos/11047052/

Fashion experts at LIM College Sponsored Event

Fashion 2.0 speakers from left: Style Coalition Founder & CEO Yuli Ziv, BuzzFeed Editor Amy Odell, DVF EVP of Marketing and Communications Michelle Horowitz, Fashion GPS’s Director of Sales Jill Melz, and WGSN Editor Rachel Arthur.

 

 

 

 

LIM College MBA students at fashion business conference.

MBA students Riki Tang and Rahul Zala take time to snap a pic before the panel takes their place.

 

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