Stern Stories

Experience Possible

MBA student Laura Musano works with an up-and-coming handbag designer as part of the CFDA Masters Workshop, a Stern Signature Project (SSP) partnership with the CFDA Fashion Incubator.

Laura shares her experiences from the CFDA Masters Workshop

“This semester I led a team of four MBAs in building a business plan for the up-and-coming handbag line Kara,” describes Full-Time MBA student Laura Musano. The project was part of the CFDA Masters Workshop, a Stern Signature Project (SSP) that partners Stern MBAs with the Fashion Incubator at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to help rising designers grow their businesses. She adds, “Our designer also used our plan to pitch real investors in a competition at the end of the semester and she ended up coming in as runner-up, which was really exciting for us.”

“One of the key reasons I chose Stern was the strength of the School’s luxury and retail program,” Laura says. “I’m transitioning into consulting with a retail focus, and for this career path it’s extremely important to get real-world, real-client experience. The CFDA Masters Workshop was the perfect opportunity.”

In addition to working with her assigned designer, Laura participated in a weekly class, "The Fashion Industry: Marriage of Creativity and Business," that complemented and informed her client work. Laura describes, “The class focused on a different topic each week. One week we learned about operations in fashion and retail. The next week it was finance. We had a lot of feedback on our client work from our instructors, Professors Jeffrey Carr and Joseph Ferrara, and could also bounce ideas off our classmates. In the final week leading up to the pitch competition and our final presentations, we learned how to value a company, and that was really helpful because valuing a fashion and retail company is much different from, say, valuing a tech company.”

The direct client interaction was especially powerful for Laura: “You learn things you can’t learn just by sitting in a classroom. You go back and forth with the client, and there are tweaks week-to-week. You get to experience this evolving process. You do something and see if it works, and can ask questions in class to make sure you’re on the right track.”

Laura says the project provided her with a multi-dimensional perspective on the industry: “I learned all these details you need to know to work in fashion and retail, such as the lingo, pricing and how much inventory you have and need. In the big picture, I learned how important it is for designers to have a strategy that’s focused, and what an incredibly powerful tool that can be to help them grow. This project helped me understand the real value MBAs can add in the fashion and retail world. ”