Putting a successful career in the financial services industry on hold, Sandra Reiman enrolled in the Katz One-year MBA program. She thought it would be a steppingstone to her dream of years later starting her own fashion company.
That dream was a lot closer than Reiman thought. At graduation, orders poured in for Reiman's luxury designer handbags, priced from $500 to $700. Weeks before, Reiman had the good fortune of picking up a celebrity endorsement from E! news anchor and red carpet staple Giuliana Rancic, whom Reiman met at a Los Angeles awards ceremony.
"I had an idea I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but didn't think I would become one so soon," Reiman (MBA '12) recalls. "My company started as an idea to explore while at Katz but progressed so quickly, and before I knew it, I realized I had a huge opportunity that I needed to pursue while I had momentum and support."
At graduation, Reiman walked away from a job offer at a well-known fashion company, which would have put her on course for her original plan of becoming a merchant buyer. She instead decided to go all in and launch her start-up: Sandra Cadavid, LLC. Founded in Pittsburgh, the company produces custom-crafted handbags of fine leather and custom hardware, made in Colombia. Reiman describes the bag's style as "classic pieces that can be enjoyed now and for many years to come."
"At Katz I learned quite a bit, from the actual product development process to sourcing funds and reviewing investor contracts to social media. Social media, in particular, is useful to my business," Reiman says.
Reiman credits the Katz faculty for taking a personal interest in her start-up venture. For example, Richard Patton, a clinical associate professor of business administration who specializes in entrepreneurship, reviewed her business plan and introduced her to international shipping contacts. Andrew Stephen, assistant professor of business administration and Katz Fellow in Marketing, reviewed her social media plan and is a frequent tweeter about the company and its early successes.
"When most people think of a business school," Reiman says, "they think ahead to the job they might obtain in financial services, consulting, and so on. At Katz, I was able to create a luxury design company, not your typical career path, especially in a city where most start-ups are in science and technology."
"You would think Katz professors attend Fashion Week in New York. The point is, no idea or area of interest is out of scope. The opportunities here are well-diversified, just like how it should be at a business school," Reiman says.