My Decision to Apply to the Fashion & Luxury Program (from an Industry Insider)

If you would have told me when I first moved to NYC that I would still be here ten years later, I would probably be genuinely surprised. I moved here shortly after graduation, and I planned to stay no more than 2-3 years. However, when I started working in the fashion industry, no other city could compare to the resources and companies in NYC. Once I decided that I wanted to be a fashion buyer, I spent the next five years working for two major retailers – in departments ranging from color cosmetics to golf apparel – and learning as much as I could in each role.

As my career progressed, I noticed there was something missing in my plan when I would journal about my long-term career goals. On the one hand, I worked in a competitive field in my dream job. Some days I felt like Andy from Devil Wears Prada after her fashion makeover – why would I want to give that up? But on the other hand, I could feel the world around me exploding with new ideas and industries. I was less interested in next year’s fashion trends and more interested in the macro forces influencing each trend.

Following a trip to Morocco, I became fascinated with the Middle East – North African region, and my wheels were turning on how I could return there and work. How could I connect the dots and get myself from point A to point B? My deciding factor to apply to business school was when I was in a department meeting with our chief strategy officer, a business school graduate. We were discussing product inventory for an upcoming season, and he was talking about EBITDA strategy. I remember blacking out and not knowing what EBITDA meant, but I also remember that “my light bulb turned on,” and I realized that I wanted to be on the other side of the table, the side of the table making strategic decisions. I wanted to know more than my limited industry knowledge, and I wanted additional transferrable skills. The most fitting path was business school.

When I began my business school process, I knew I wanted to stay in the industry, so I only looked at programs that had a retail presence. I learned about the Fashion & Luxury Program through an admissions consultant and was instantly impressed by its focus and curriculum. I attended two in-person information sessions with current students, and although it was a new program, their excitement and passion were palpable.

The program had access to companies that I had always admired, and the Stern Solution courses (which act as in-semester internships) would allow me to work hands-on with these companies on a range of projects. The fashion & luxury retail industries are a lot about your network, and I loved that the program offered a mentorship council with industry executives. The opportunity to take classes that focused on growing concerns in the industry – like supply chain and corporate responsibility – was also really important. Furthermore, the Fashion & Luxury program is supported by Stern’s core classes and electives, so I could strengthen my quantitative and business acumen while also learning with classmates from Stern’s other MBA programs.

Choosing the Fashion & Luxury program was a great decision because it bridged my two passions: a passion for the fashion industry combined with a passion for continued learning. Although I was nervous about staying in NYC entering my 10th year here, being a student and seeing the city through the eyes of my classmates from Chicago and Israel makes it feel like Year 1 again. I always felt like an outsider in previous roles because I was interested in “the bigger picture,” but it is gratifying to be in a program with other fashion nerds who geek out on Women’s Wear Daily.