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MBA Final Project Sows Seeds Of Luxury Design Company

Kristan Leroy used her MBA project to work out a business model for Leroy & Scarpa

By  Harriet Murdoch

Mon Oct 24 2011

Kristan Leroy had clear plans for her part-time MBA and how it would help her found a luxury design company, since graduating in 2009 how has her company developed?

Kristan, 44, is originally from San Francisco and was working as the marketing and admissions manager at Grenoble Ecole de Management. When she decided to study for a part-time MBA it was an obvious choice for her to apply to Grenoble, and the triple-accreditation made it a sure-fire decision.


The decision to study for an MBA was fuelled by a desire to change careers and “have a go at starting my own business in a new field that I felt passionate about: interior design, soft furnishings design & creating around beautiful fabrics".

The highlight of the part-time MBA for Kristan was her cohort; 19 students from 12 different nationalities and most had at least ten years working experience in various fields.

Kristan needed specific skills to start her own company; she had marketing experience from Grenoble and had previously been a marketing manager at Ericsson Hewlett Packard Teleccomunications. But she “needed to master financial management in France and international marketing, accounting, legal issues, raising capital, modern marketing in the web 2.0 arena.”

Her final MBA project was to work on her own business plan for her soft furnishings design company. “My company sprouted from my final MBA project where I was researching the ‘home fashion’ industry and the existing competition and go-to-market strategies.”

Kristan recreated her luxury label Leroy & Scarpa within the last year in order “to best address my niche clients’ needs and launch an exclusive brand worldwide. We design, assemble and package all our products. We are 100% Made In France.”

Leroy and Scarpa "still have many mountains to climb but we will be showing at the Scènes d’Intérieures hall at Maison & Objet in January 2012. This show is key for our future success worldwide in the furniture, giftware and luxury accessories markets".

The company is growing rapidly, "the word is starting to spread virally and we now have sales agents in place worldwide, a first round of investors under our belts and a supply chain that can support the future volumes".

So in what ways has the part-time MBA helped in the establishment of Kristan's company? “It has given me the courage to totally change careers and run a business from A to Z, which is really, really challenging. The MBA stamp is a recognized asset when looking for investors who are wary of how we are to manage their funds. We have mastered the design in excel spreadsheets (forecasting, cash flow analysis, pricing, etc…..)!!”

Kristan hopes that her label will be recognized worldwide within five years and ensure we meet our projections and have 100% customer satisfaction. “We want to continue to design, assemble and package all our products 100% in France so we need financial stability to ensure this quality. In ten years we would like LVMH, PPR or the likes to buy our little company, and then retire!”