South African Model Targets MBA To Build Her Own Fashion Brand

Nadia Manjate has been a full-time model for 15 years. Now, she wants other people wearing her clothes on the runway

Nadia Manjate started modelling very young, but she’s always been interested in the business side of the industry.

Seven years ago, she took the first step towards it when she got a job in sales at a local fashion store in South Africa. Since then, she’s worked her way up to a position as store manager—and has also been preparing herself for a future career outside of her full-time job.

Ultimately, Nadia’s goal is to one day own her own fashion retail brand—to become the brains of a brand, not just the face—and she believes an MBA could be the way to get her started as an entrepreneur.

“I’ve always been curious,” Nadia explains. “I’ve always thought it would be useful to also have the education on the business side. Now, I’m almost ready to start my own business, and it’s time to do the MBA to get a bit more training.

“With an MBA, I can work with bigger brands and they will take me a bit more seriously.”

To increase her chances of business success, Nadia is studying banking at the University of South Africa outside of her full-time sales position. She knows the MBA is a big commitment, but she’s hoping she can find a program that’s the perfect fit.

“I do want to do the retail and the business side, but I’ve also been working in the media industry for a while, so I want to see which program can tie all the experiences that I’ve had together,” Nadia explains.

As for where to study her MBA, Nadia hasn't decided on that yet—"I'm broadly looking at geographical areas," she says—but she does know that the US won’t be on her application list.

Latest reports suggest that the current political climate is making the US a less attractive destination for prospective MBAs. But Nadia says her decision to neglect US business schools has nothing to do with that.

“To be honest, I’ve never really thought of the US as a place to study,” she admits. “It might sound really strange but, even with modelling, I’ve never really thought, ‘Wow, I want to work there’.

“I feel like the world is huge, and there’s a lot of other interesting places, and other up-and-coming countries," Nadia adds—she's also considered Canada and Australia as possible options for her MBA. 

But with plenty of the world’s top business schools located in the US—would Nadia ever consider relocating there? “Maybe if Harvard Business School accepted me, I would go!” she laughs.

China, however, is on Nadia’s list, and for good reason—China is the world’s largest textile garment producer and exporter. “I would have to do business with China anyway,” Nadia says, “so it’s good to go there and see what it’s all about, make contacts, network.”

Choosing a course and institution is a big decision for any applicant, and before Nadia decides on a school, she’s making sure she’s got one key aspect of the application process completed.

“It really depends on my GMAT score; that will determine where I’ll be,” Nadia explains.

“I think I’m going to need a bit more time to focus on the GMAT to make sure I’m successful!”  

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