The Business Leaders of Tomorrow Part II

Today, May 3rd marks the last day of the CFDA/NYU Stern School of Business Workshop. Established two years ago, MBA Students from Stern are paired with both CFDA Members and {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers for ten weeks to work on a business development project. The CFDA is incredibly proud of the 10 MBA candidates who worked closely with designers on projects ranging from e-commerce strategies, business plans, and consumer and market analysis. Without further ado, please meet the second half of the incredible ladies who will undoubtedly be the business leaders of tomorrow.

Name: Kristin Cardwell 

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Designers you’re working with: Tess Giberson & John Bartlett

Background in 3 sentences or less

Prior to NYU Stern, I was a Global Brand Manager for L’Oreal on the Maybelline brand, where I managed product development for million dollar franchises in both Western and Asian markets. I am currently specializing in strategy and digital marketing at Stern.

What did you find most helpful about the CFDA/Stern Workshop?

The CFDA/ Stern Workshop was a great overview of the business of fashion for someone who is unfamiliar with the jargon and industry lifecycle.

One day I hope to…work for myself by combining creative commerce with a social mission.


Name: Sarah Smith

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware

Designers you’re working with: Melissa Joy Manning, Jonathan Simkhai

Background in 3 sentences or less

After graduating from Georgetown in 2006, I moved to New York to begin a career in magazine editing and writing, starting at Vanity Fair then spending a few years at the luxury lifestyle magazine Departures. I always had the most fun writing style articles, so I decided to explore a career in fashion by taking classes at FIT and working at 3.1 Phillip Lim.  The experience confirmed for me that I wanted to switch from editorial to the business side of fashion, which motivated me to pursue my MBA at NYU Stern, specializing in Luxury Marketing, and accept a summer internship position at Chanel.

What did you find most helpful about the CFDA/Stern Workshop?

The generosity of our advisors has gone above and beyond anything I ever expected, and the opportunity to get advice from such legendary and experienced industry experts has been an invaluable educational experience. I also loved when my project partner and I disclosed research findings to our designers and saw them use the information to make empowered business decisions.

One day I hope to…become CEO/COO to a young, talented designer and help him or her grow the business and become inducted into the CFDA.   I then hope to launch my own fashion startup involving the lending of high-fashion clothes.   


Name:  Erin Aarsvold

Hometown:  Los Angeles, CA

Designers you’re working with: Rogan/Loomstate and Daniel Vosovic

Background in 3 sentences or less

While an undergraduate at UCLA I founded a business that provided spa services, beauty consulting, and retail products to a clientele throughout Southern California.  After an expansion of service offerings into hospitality-related marketing events, I transitioned into an operations role in an Asset Management firm in which my first major initiative was to develop a company-wide hospitality program. I hope to enjoy a career in the beauty or hospitality industry after I complete my studies at the NYU Stern School of Business.

What did you find most helpful about the CFDA/Stern Workshop?

The client interaction was by far the most enjoyable part of the CFDA/Stern Workshop.  Both of our designers were extremely passionate about their brands and they were very open and accessible as we worked together to make their businesses better.

One day I hope to…be a successful and passionate business leader that is a mentor to young women, who one day aspire to be leaders themselves.


Name: Katey Hassan

Hometown: Newburgh, NY

Designers you’re working with: Melissa Joy Manning, Jonathan Simkhai

Background in 3 sentences or less

Prior to business school, I co-founded a beauty R&D startup.  I also completed a master’s degree in Sociology- my research was in consumer behavior in the cosmetics and lingerie industries, specifically how people decide to purchase items that most others will never see them wear.

What did you enjoy most or find most helpful about the CFDA/Stern Workshop?

It has been empowering to know that the designers will be using our insights right away to help them grow their businesses and make tough decisions. It’s like watching a rocket ship take off!

One day I hope to…I have a few ideas up my sleeve. Stay tuned!


Name: Carey Wikstrom

Hometown: Bakersfield, CA

Designers you’re working with: Loeffler Randall and WHIT. Previously, I worked with Tess Giberson.

Background in 3 sentences or less:

My career started at UBS Wealth Management, Inc. in Los Angeles where I had the privilege of working with many successful entrepreneurs and business owners. Inspired by their stories, I left to pursue my MBA at NYU Stern with a focus in retail and business strategy. Last summer I worked at the Boston Consulting Group for a National off-price retailer client analyzing consumer demographics and customer insights in existing and expansion markets as part of a larger growth strategy project. Having enjoyed this experience and my MBA consulting projects for the CFDA and brands such as L’Oreal and Kiehl’s, I am excited to return to BCG after graduation and continue my retail consulting career.

What did you enjoy most or find most helpful about the CFDA/Stern Workshop?

I first and foremost was absolutely starstruck working so closely with truly genius and amazingly talented designers. From a career perspective, the CFDA partnership solidified my career path decision after graduation

One day I hope to…do something within this industry. Coming to Stern, management consulting, retail, and fashion were potential industries I was exploring, but after working with the CFDA I am absolutely confident that I want to focus on this industry going forward.  I am very thankful for the clarity this program has given me.


Photographs by: Dario Calmese