Anna Smedsrud is a current Fashion & Luxury MBA student, specializing in Strategy, Brand Management, and Luxury Marketing. Prior to Stern, Anna was working as a retail negotiations consultant at Target Corporate in Minneapolis. Post-MBA, she will start as a senior consultant in customer and marketing strategy at Deloitte. Anna is currently involved in the Stern Run Club and is interning in retail operations at L’Occitane. In her free time, she enjoys trying out new NYC restaurants, reading fiction, and watching Bravo.
It’s been almost 6 weeks since we arrived back in New York from our winter immersion in Florence, yet I’ve found myself missing the pear ravioli from 4 Leoni and the beautiful views of Piazza Santa Maria Novella nearly every single day. As a Fashion and Luxury MBA cohort, we spent 8 days together in Italy observing and studying the operations of multiple small and medium Italian enterprises and appreciating, up-close, the beauty of Italian craftsmanship. This trip was incredibly educational – as you can imagine, it was a 3 credit course! – but it was also filled with opportunities to appreciate art and culture and to form new and more meaningful friendships with my cohort. I walked away with a deeper appreciation for each of my 22 classmates, and I am so grateful for this time together.
I wanted to take this space to highlight my top three favorite experiences from Florence. I hope these highlights can give a small taste of the joy that was our 2023 winter immersion.
1. Manteco Factory – Manteco is a recycled wool company with a factory located in a small town outside Florence, and we had the opportunity to both tour the factory and explore their showroom. Manteco’s commitment to producing 100% recycled (and recyclable), high quality fabrics showcased that sustainability and luxury can live together as one.
2. Ferragamo archives and museum – we spent a full day learning about Ferragamo, the shoemaker to the stars, and his strong, strategic family and enduring, innovative brand. We walked through Ferragamo’s carefully kept archives, watched shoes being made in one of their factories, and explored the Ferragamo museum located within the Ferragamo house in the heart of Florence.
3. Closing Seminar at NYU Florence – our last day in Florence was spent at NYU Florence, an academic building of New York University located in Villa La Pietra, a 1400s Tuscan villa gifted to NYU in the 1990s. The grounds were stunning, and walking through them, enjoying the sunshine and taking in the Tuscan mountain views was the perfect way to close out our time together.
It was difficult to narrow these top highlights as many moments from our time in Florence stood out. Honorable mentions include gelato outside the Duomo, vintage shopping at sunset, seeing Botticellis for the first time in the Uffizi, and countless, wonderful encounters with local Italians. Italy is a wonderful place to study fashion and to appreciate art, and it was the perfect place to kick-off our final semester as Fashion and Luxury MBA students.