EMBA Program Helps Wardrobe Stylist and Photographer Expand Her Craft Through Business

“Fashion is an international business, so I found it necessary to bridge my expertise with an enhanced business degree," said Kelsey Furtado, EMBA '17. “We have a responsibility as business leaders to not only make a profit but do it with integrity and honesty."

Kelsey Furtado

Growing up in Mercer County, Kentucky, Kelsey Furtado's, favorite pastime was catching frogs on the front lawn, chasing fireflies with her cousins, playing dress up, and doing photo shoots. "As a child, I always had my mom's 38mm Minolta camera in hand,” said Furtado. “The perimeter of my room was lined with fashion editorials from magazines, mostly French and U.S. Vogue. At age twelve I bought my first camera from my neighbor Stan, a 1987 Canon EOS Rebel, and my unconditional love for imagery began. I was twenty-two when I bought my Nikon D5000. I carried her everywhere, so much that my Auntie Jean named the camera Sis."

When she was admitted to Saint Mary's College, Furtado had a plan.  As a published wardrobe stylist and photographer, she already had a passion for image composition, producing photo shoots, and combining elements of historical reference coupled with relevant fashion trends. She had worked as a wardrobe stylist and producer running her own business, Kelsey Marie Styling, since 2011. But it was time to revamp.  She enrolled in the EMBA program at SEBA to focus on consumer macro-trend forecasting in the apparel, design, and textile industries.

“Fashion is an international business, so I found it necessary to bridge my expertise with an enhanced business degree," said Furtado. "I want to make life easier for people by helping them find things faster, and making the morning dressing ritual fun again,” she said. One look through her portfolio and her love of global culture and female power—combined with the art of fashion—is clear.

The mission of Think Globally, Lead Responsibly was another essential element in her decision. A core value for Furtado is to be proactive about the health of our world and toreflect on the full impact of her work. Furtado also knew she wanted a cohort-style program. "My goal while at Saint Mary's has been to get involved as much as possible," said Furtado. She does this by serving as her cohort 29 class rep on the Graduate Student Advisory Board, and she has attended most of the school’s Career Advantage Series events, as well as all of the Executive Speaker Series and panel discussions available to students.

Furtado was also able recently to travel to Seoul, South Korea. This included visiting the demilitarized zone at the North Korean border for the GMAN 319 International Business Course, "Doing Business in South Korea,” with SEBA Associate Dean Yung-Jae Lee and a group of thirty-one PMBA, EMBA and Business Analytics students. "I believe a person truly evolves when they immerse themselves in a new culture and allow themselves to get out of their comfort zone. Learning about the Korean business culture did just that," said Furtado. 

"I don't know of another program that has the platform to cultivate one's self-efficacy," said Furtado. In her program, Furtado has learned teamwork, also truly finding her voice in the process.  

Furtado hopes to remain in contact with all of her professors throughout her career and life. She is a big fan of the alumni network and community. "The Saint Mary's name alone gives instant credibility and common ground between other alums and students. The innovative strategy we are taught will make a huge impact. I know the tools I've learned in Professor Natasha Munshi's class will continuously come in handy throughout my career."

Her existing ability to lead and work seamlessly with others has been an asset in the program. She feels that the camaraderie of her fellow students is one of the biggest boons to the program.

"We are a family. We trust one another.  We challenge each other, laugh a lot and thoroughly get along. It would be an entirely different experience without each person. The Career Advantage Series panel discussions have been the greatest resource linking alumni to current students. I recently connected with Jenner Balagot from Airbnb. Natasha Munshi set up an informative tour, and it was incredible to hear his story as well as to see Airbnb's headquarters,” she said.

For the future, she has developed a globally open mind. “We have to think about sustainability and the unintended consequences of our business decisions. We have to have healthy discernment about the unseen and pay close attention to what is happening in the world around us. For example, the one-to-one business model for Tom's Shoes makes consumers feel like they’re doing something for humanity, but in actuality, it prevents commerce in the community that needs it the most. We need to take the time to address the unforeseen issues and make adjustments to our agendas,” said Furtado. “We have a responsibility as business leaders to not only make a profit but do it with integrity and honesty."

Kelsey Marie Styling

Kelsey Marie Styling

Kelsey Marie Styling

Kelsey Marie Styling