Learning About the Fashion & Luxury MBA












Jennifer Rice comes to NYU Stern with over six years of experience as a Design Director in sustainability and performance brands. After working as a designer for shoes and ready-to-wear at Zero + Maria Cornejo, she went on to start up her own consulting company in 2021, aligning new and established brands with partners across the east coast for brand development and production services. Jennifer is a Graduate Ambassador, AVP of Admissions for SISA, and admissions committee member for SWIB. Aside from work and school, you can find Jennifer at Washington Square Park dog run with her roommates, Meredith and Elizabeth, and their dog, Stella. 

Being a Graduate Ambassador, we get loads of questions surrounding the F&L MBA. My parents always told me to live by the mantra to be curious from every angle. I.e. go down the path of research that will fulfill the questions most important to you, personally. Investigating is encouraged when looking at any MBA program you may be interested in applying to, as each program will offer a different set of unique characteristics and offerings that are catered to different candidates. So while there’s no one clear answer, I’m going to do my best to lay out the system I made for myself during my era of MBA research that helped me make my decision!

1. Attend.

Sadly, I don’t mean attending actual Stern quite yet! I mean going on our school’s website (click here) to sign up for “Ask me Anything” sessions with current students (“AMAs”), Info Sessions, and any other school sponsored events. Typically, these sessions are led by students currently in the program, Admissions Members, and sometimes even Professors teaching mock classes! You will not only understand through the presentations what Stern and the Fashion & Luxury program is all about, but you’ll also gain insight to the vibe of the community. For me, this was really important for myself to understand that if Stern was an environment I would not only be successful as a student, but also successful in feeling I could give back to the community. 

The AMA’s are great for those burning questions you may have on the student experience and what the course load looks and feels like. You are free to ask questions to a current student and hear the questions from other prospective students as well (this is something I appreciated, as I didn’t always know what to ask, so I liked the opportunity to hear other insightful questions!). 

Info Sessions are hosted by an Admissions Member and a Graduate Ambassador. This is great to understand the course schedule, recruitment opportunities, and more information on our immersion programs. Additionally, the Admissions Member will walk you through the application and its requirements. I think every applicant should attend at least one of these sessions for further insight in applying and attending the Fashion & Luxury MBA at Stern.

2. Read, listen, and investigate.

I cannot emphasize this step enough. Read these awesome Fashion & Luxury blog posts, go on other MBA news coverage websites, and watch videos posted by Stern about the program! A lot of times we get questions Stern has already answered (and answered even better than I ever could have) about the culture, scheduling, and opportunities during and after the program. When I was trying to visualize myself in the program, I took to reading about the program from other forums and news outlets to really understand the professors (and their classes offered) and the community Stern encompasses. The videos of students speaking about the International Immersion and the career placement opportunities were a quick google away (and also on the website!) and got me thinking about my own career ambitions post graduation. Just getting back from our Immersion trip in January, my experience was filled with not only meeting with inspiring international industry leaders, but also learning about craftsmanship and luxury supply chain processes. 

3. Reach out!

After you’ve done steps 1 & 2, it’s time to reach out to us! (click here). Hot tip: It’s always so impressive when it’s clear a prospective student has done their research before contacting current students. It’s clear through your thoughtful questions that you’re genuinely interested in the program, which makes our time to speak with you that much more helpful! We will always do our best to answer your questions, and can segue to our fellow incredible classmates that may be better suited to answer your questions. This is a great opportunity to get that next level of understanding of the program and professionals it attracts– fulfilling that final piece of the puzzle in your journey of understanding if Stern’s Fashion & Luxury MBA program is right for you.

4. Write it out.

Finally, after all the investigating, I took to writing out my thoughts. I weighed out themes based on how important it was to my MBA experience (i.e. Location: NYC, Score: A+, Importance: 5/5). I know, I know, this might seem excessive to some, but it helped me make my decision that much easier and feel that much more logical because I was able to balance the qualitative and quantitative aspects for choosing the perfect MBA culture for me. As I said in the beginning of this blog post, there really is no perfect way to learn more about a program, as long as you make sure you investigate from every angle, giving you the confidence in making a decision for the next chapter of your career!

Choosing Between the Two-Year and the Fashion & Luxury MBA












Cecilia Marmolejos is a current Fashion and Luxury MBA student, specializing in Luxury Marketing. Prior to Stern, Cecilia worked at Wayfair as a Site merchandiser, and as a merchant. Post-MBA, she plans to pursue a career in brand management. At Stern, she is involved in the luxury retail club, and Stern Women in Business. 

Deciding which MBA program to pursue is a big decision, especially with unique offerings like NYU Stern’s one-year Fashion & Luxury MBA. After I had decided to pursue an MBA, I began my research, looking into top schools across the country. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to go to a school that helped me break into the beauty and fashion industry. Out of all the schools I looked at, NYU Stern had the best network in that area due to the Fashion and Luxury program. In addition to the strong network, NYU also had such passionate and welcoming students. I spoke to several alumni, in addition to current students at the time, all of whom expressed a deep appreciation for the NYU community. It became clear that NYU would give me the opportunity to receive an incredible education, and also expose me to incredible people and opportunities in beauty and fashion with the Fashion and Luxury MBA. 

While doing my research, I also came to realize there were a number of differences between our program and the traditional, two-year MBA program. The Fashion and Luxury program is unique, with NYU being one of the first schools to design this new type of MBA program. The Fashion and Luxury MBA is a focused one-year program, running from May to May. In addition to the timeline, there are several elements in which the Fashion and Luxury program differs from the 2 year MBA program, which I have outlined below. The one-year is specifically designed to expose students to core business principles, while also immersing students in the world of luxury and retail. 


Other than timing, I believe one of the main components that makes the Fashion and Luxury program unique is the close knit community that NYU fosters. Our cohort this year is 23 people, whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know very well over the last 7 months. We all share a passion for the retail and luxury industry, and have been able to attend different fashion and beauty events, plan trips and share insights on the industry. I have met some incredible people, with a variety of different backgrounds, skills, and experiences, which have been able to help me advance inside and outside of the classroom. 


In addition to the community that this program builds, the Fashion and Luxury MBA allows students the opportunity to take courses that genuinely interest them. During this program, I have been able to take core business classes that are tweaked to incorporate language from the fashion and luxury industry. The marketing class taken during the summer semester was a great example of this – the class was made of just Fashion and Luxury students, and we were able to review cases that focused on different retail companies. We were able to have meaningful conversations, and hear not only from the professor, but I was able to learn from my classmates. One of the cases that I really enjoyed reading during Marketing was the Dolce & Gabbana case. We learned about the missteps D&G took as a brand, and how an insensitive campaign they launched impacted their sales and growth in Asia. This case sparked great conversation, and a number of my classmates shared their insights and opinions on D&G’s PR nightmare. 

Networking Opportunities

Lastly, the Fashion and Luxury MBA differs due to the variety of networking opportunities that exist. The program has a series of courses called Stern Solutions courses, which involve a number of interactive components, including different panel discussions with various industry executives, corporate presentations from various professionals, and lastly, guest lectures from experts. This course was offered exclusively to Fashion and Luxury students in the summer, and was offered to both my cohort and Full-time MBA students and in the fall. These courses expose you to different topics within the industry, and allow you to network with professionals from different areas. A speaker that comes to mind that the class really enjoyed was Lillian Tung, the owner of the wellness company Fur. She shared her story discussing how she founded the company, what it took to build her business with a partner, and engaged in a Q&A session with the class. A number of students, including myself, are interested in entrepreneurship, and this was a great opportunity to learn more about creating a business, and the difficulties associated with raising capital, and dealing with investors. 

Overall, the Fashion and Luxury MBA program gives students the opportunity to gain an MBA, while specializing in a specific industry. It has been an incredible experience, and I am excited to continue to see what comes from the remainder of the program.  

Tips for Prospective Fashion & Luxury MBA Candidates

*NYU Stern’s Fashion & Luxury MBA program was renamed to the Luxury & Retail MBA program.*

Laura Laufer is a current Fashion & Luxury MBA student, specializing in  Luxury Marketing and Strategy. Prior to Stern, she worked at Saks Off Fifth in New York where she was working in the Buying & Planning for Fine Jewelry & Watches. Laura is passionate about data-driven decision making, the convergence of beauty and science, and innovative business practices.

It’s no secret that the MBA admissions process can be a bit intimidating. Right around this time last year, I was beginning my own journey. It’s a lot – the paperwork, the transcripts, the essay, the Pick 6. How can one possibly summarize 20+ years of education, thousands of hours of work experience, and decades worth of monumental life achievements in 150 words or less? Yeah, it’s daunting. 

Fast forward a full year later and a semester of business school officially in the books – I can confidently say that the application process is less about presenting yourself as the candidate you think admissions officers want to see, and more about presenting yourself authentically, proudly, and convincingly. Joining the Stern community has taught me that compassion weighs just as strongly as intelligence, and that asking questions makes you look wise, not weak.

That being said, here are ten tips I wish I knew when I was applying to business school: 

  1. Do your research & attend coffee chats – choosing the right MBA program for you is difficult. There are millions of factors to consider – location, class size, general vs specific programs, alumni networks, etc. If you choose to apply to the NYU Stern Fashion & Luxury MBA program, you should be prepared to explain why this program is right for you, and what you seek to get out of this very specific MBA experience. Joining NYU-hosted coffee chats is a great way to get a feel for the student body and an understanding of what the program has to offer. I attended four coffee chats last fall before submitting my application, and I learned something new in all of them!
  2. Have a vision – you don’t have to know everything, but you should have an understanding of what it is that you’re good at, what makes you happy, and what inspires you. This will help shape your questions in coffee chats, will explain why you’re targeting an MBA in the first place, and will guide your future career aspirations.
  3. Ask questions! – it’s almost annoying how often people tell you to ask questions. I’ve been there, trust me. But this is your moment to be curious, and you should capitalize upon that. After all, you’re putting your career on hold for a year, and investing in this degree. You should be as informed as you can be. No question is a stupid question!
  4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – this goes hand-in-hand with asking questions. It’s okay if you don’t know what your dream job is after you graduate. You’re here to learn, to figure out what you’re good at, and to start over. If you had all the answers, you wouldn’t  be pursuing your MBA.
  5. Be your authentic self – I can’t stress this point enough. Showing up authentically is your biggest asset. A lot of people out there have impressive resumes, but none of them have your same story to tell. Be proud of your story and own your background.
  6. Focus less on what you think the admissions team will want to see, and more on what your proudest version of yourself looks like – NYU is really good at bringing diverse individuals together to create a greater community. You’re applying to get your MBA because you want to improve yourself and further your education – therefore, you’ve already proven that you’re ambitious. Speak to the moments you’re proud of, whether they’re work-related or not. What you deem to be noteworthy about yourself sheds a lot of light on who you are.
  7. What’s in it for you? While you don’t have to know what your dream job is post- MBA, you should have a fundamental understanding of why you want to be here. Is it to develop your leadership skills? Is it to practice your soft skills? Is it to join a network of esteemed professionals in New York City? Whatever it may be, you should know what you want to get out of this program before you start.
  8. What’s in it for them? As I’m sure you’ve realized in your research about NYU’s ideals, NYU cares a lot about their community and their identity. Every single student, faculty, and staff member adds to the NYU community in some way. Think about your admissions decision from Stern’s point of view. Do you add value to the NYU Stern community? Are you going to be the type of student that tries to outrank their peers, or the type of student who works well in groups? Understand what you can individually bring to the NYU Stern community, and emphasize that in your application.
  9. Be organized – There’s a lot to keep track of when applying to business school. Make sure you stay on top of your deadlines, paperwork, and letters of recommendation. Your application will be weaker without all components delivered in a timely manner.
  10. Sleep while you can! This is more applicable for the post-admissions portion of the process. Once you actually get into the MBA program, you’ll wish you would have rested during the time leading up to your first semester. Things will get intense (in a good way!) so sleep while you can 🙂

Good luck!


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.

Applying To Stern: My Application Journey & A Few Tips

If you’re working on your application to B-school, I was where you are not too far back. My experience with the application was spread over – believe it or not – 2 years. Since Stern was the only school I was applying to, and the Fashion & Luxury MBA was the only program I was interested in, it was an all or nothing play for me, which in hindsight is what made the entire process that much more stressful and daunting, but in the end equally rewarding.

For me, the starting point was understanding Stern as a school. The concept of IQ + EQ is in almost every Stern post because it is very much ingrained in the DNA of the school. What it means from my perspective is that along with having quantifiable professional achievements, one also needs to be self-aware and emotionally in touch with their environment and the people who inhabit it. This for me was the very foundation on which I built the rest of my application.

I did use this blog for a lot of inspiration when I was preparing my application, so I find it surreal that I am actually writing this blog post now. Talk about life coming full circle, you know! Similar posts from past students were critical in keeping my focus and conviction strong. I am hoping to pay it forward and will be thrilled if anything I write below will be helpful for you. If I can come this far, trust me, so can you!


Coming from a design background, I wasn’t sure if my resume would be valuable to a business school admissions team. While there is the idea of a “non-traditional background,” which could have given me a few brownie points, what I felt was lacking was a demonstration of my interest/experience in traditionally MBA-related roles, eg. marketing, managing projects and teams. So I looked for opportunities in my role to extend myself into these projects. I’m not saying this is the only way to do this, but it was very helpful for me as an experiment to even understand if digital marketing or project management would be something I would be interested in doing full-time post-MBA. To me, this also showed that I was inquisitive to push the envelope of my abilities and, irrespective of my admission in the program, I would continue to explore business-related roles in my industry, cementing my genuine interest in the program I was applying to. The added benefit was that professionally, I was able to add many more feathers to my many hat which is good to do anyway, irrespective of your application to b-school. At the end of your resume writing process, your final product should actually make you feel really proud of your achievements and give you a sense of genuine confidence about your abilities and professional history.

Key Takeaway: Your resume is an advertisement of YOU and it should be written like that. All ads carry the best features of what their product has to offer, not everything, but the best. So be mindful of what you want to call out and what you want to maybe discuss in person and hence omit on the single sheet that you will upload. Quantifying your achievements is helpful as well. (Shout out to my friend Sneha who taught me all this!)

Standardized Tests:

I struggled with this part of the application the most. NYU does not have a preference between the GMAT or the GRE, so if you are feeling anxious about the GMAT, you should try the GRE. I spent 6 miserable months studying for the GMAT along with a very demanding full-time job and took it three times before I got a passable score to apply with. I took the GRE sample far later into my GMAT prep and would have much rather just prepped for the GRE and taken only that. Also, please know that the standardized test scores are only one small aspect of your entire application. Apply with the score you are most proud of and trust yourself.

Key Takeaway: I recommend taking free sample tests online of GMAT, GRE, or any other accepted exams and build from there. You might realize that you are more comfortable with one exam format than another and I feel that’s half the battle won.

Professional Aspirations Essay:

Authenticity is the highest priority in this section. If you try to use a formulaic approach to an essay, it really shows. An admissions officer is an expert at their job and can easily identify a genuine interest versus a vaguely written, generic submission. Your authenticity will show through your research and knowledge of this program, of Stern, and how it relates to your personal and professional journey. Remember the IQ + EQ value and use that as your anchor. I felt it was important for Stern to see that this was the only program that I could even think of doing and I probably read every article, news report, blog post, website page available to inform my decision. It may not be possible for everyone looking to apply to multiple programs across multiple schools, but I feel you should try to do as much research as you can because it will only make your writing stronger and your arguments more convincing.

Key Takeaway: Don’t try to fake it or be superficial. It will be very evident. Since there are limited words, value each word and ensure it adds value to your statements. There will be multiple drafts and that’s fine (I submitted draft 37, really). Once you’re done with a draft, read it line by line and ask, “Why is this important/Why does this matter?” If you can’t come up with a good answer, rephrase your statement. Once you feel you are confident about your writing, take feedback from friends, peers, mentors, anyone you trust, and reiterate till you feel your writing is most true to you and authentically represents you. The best essay is the one you feel most confident about.

Pick 6:

This was an image in my Pick 6. I love the Met Gala so I added this image along with the caption “The Costume Institute Gala is a confluence of three of my key passions: Fashion, Museums/Exhibitions & Business and continues to influence & educate me about the cyclical impact of costume on the themes chosen.”

This is the most unique aspect of the Stern application. I don’t know if any other schools have a similar personal expression essay. It really is an opportunity for Stern to see who YOU are, what you value, and what makes you YOU. I have often struggled with boxing myself into a few obvious compartments of my life like what I do for work and what I do in my free time, but this exercise made me think of all the facets of my personality. What helped me start was asking my closest friends about whatever comes to their minds when they think of me. I did this exercise multiple times with different sets of people, and received a variety of words I expected to get and then some I didn’t even think of which came up again and again from different people. It made me realize the attributes that people associated with me without me even knowing, which makes this a good exercise on self-discovery and the EQ portion of self-awareness. From all of these responses, I started to think hard about what really mattered to me and shortlisted visuals I thought best represented me and my life.

Key Takeaway: Try to have fun here. In this age of Instagram, we are all for the most part, fairly used to selecting aspects of our lives and sharing a snippet for the world to see. Which is what this is. It is a space for you to express yourself personality, so let your personality shine and be proud of who you are and what you believe in. That’s what makes you unique and that is what will make your essay stand out.


If you get invited to interview, congratulations! I just needed an excuse to come to New York, so I actually flew in from India to New York for a 30-45 mins discussion. I am in no way saying that it is essential to get admission because a few people in my class who are from New York interviewed remotely (#PandemicProblems). What is essential is that your story and your passion shine through your conversation with the Admissions Officer. My interview was very conversational and made me feel incredibly comfortable to the effect that I didn’t even feel like I was being interviewed. It was like having a coffee chat (which you will eventually do a lot of during your MBA).

Key Takeaway: Revisit your application. It’s important that what you submitted is the same content you say during your interview. An authentic, true-to-yourself application will be the easiest to prepare since that is your true story. And don’t worry. The interview was the best part of the admissions process for me. Relax, be yourself, and show your passion. You’ll thank yourself later.

Closing Notes:

My final advice to you is to be very surgical and systematic about the application process. My dad kept telling me to do a SWOT analysis (he tells me to do this even today) and I pass on that wisdom to you. Do a SWOT analysis of yourself. Write down your Strengths, your Weaknesses, the Opportunities you have or need to create to either display your strengths or overcome those weaknesses, and finally the Threats that may create a path of resistance. What helped me was to look at my resume and see what I had achieved professionally and looked at LinkedIn profiles of Stern alums to see what I was missing or what were my areas of development. Then I needed to find or create opportunities where I could fill in these gaps while being prepared to tackle any obstacles along the way with backup plans. This broad structure helped me keep my focus intact.

Also, ask for help, even when you feel you don’t need it. You’ll be surprised how much value another perspective adds to your application. Have your essays read by another person, get your resume reviewed, and understand how someone else is reading what you have written. When you are so close to your own work, you forget to have a distanced perspective which is more valuable than you can imagine. I can safely say that I would not have been able to crack this admission without a strong support system.

Finally, your strongest application is the one you are most confident about. I said it before, and I really mean it. Apply to the deadline you feel most prepared with and let your hard work do the rest.

All the best and I hope to see you on campus!