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Babson '09 Undergrad alumna, Finds Happiness with Style

Name of business: Emma Graham Designs;    

The beginning: We began in June 2009 and we are Boston based, but sell online and through college campuses. We come to you to sell our product through trunk shows, events, or in home parties.

Initial Investment: Babson’s 4 F’s: Friends, Family, Fools, Faculty

Employees: Me, Jackie Graham, Babson 2009 undergrad, and co-owner/partner Emma Mahon

Founder’s Past Life:
Recent college graduates and children friends from Winchester, Mass., Jackie and Emma understand how important it is to young women to look and feel their best in stylish and versatile clothing.

Jackie attended Babson College, where she graduated with a Business Degree concentrating in Entrepreneurship. Emma attended the University of South Carolina where she studied fashion merchandising and went on to study fashion design in London and Paris. They remained great friends throughout college, and over the years their conversations continued to drift back to their inability to find a stylish and unique, moderately priced, sundress or skirt. With graduation approaching, Emma and Jackie saw the perfect opportunity to combine their skills and knowledge. They decided to start a company that would provide the dresses and skirts so hard to find during their college years. By starting the business together they would do what they love, while providing a product to a group that they understand first hand. Emma Graham Designs clothing is a reflection of the needs and wants of young women like us.

Initial Preparation to Germinate Idea:
Soon after we agreed on the idea of starting a business, we were hard at work to make Emma Graham Designs a reality. We quickly began brainstorming company names, sketching pattern designs, making lists of contacts, and, of course, selling our parents on the idea that we were no longer going to pursue the stable 9 to 5 careers that they had envisioned for us.

Emma worked on different samples purchasing just enough fabric to perfect the styles. At the same time, Jackie followed up with contacts while developing a plan for how to bring the products to market. Together we searched for the perfect materials for our final products and planned our promotional tour.

As industry newcomers we knew that in order to be successful we would need to learn quickly and invest everything into the business. Going door to door to the jobbers in New York to secure the perfect fabric in the right colors was like finding a needle in a haystack. Researching different companies to make production patterns, manufacture samples, and eventually produce our inventory was a whole new world to us. The challenge of selling our concept to suppliers, who wanted us to buy thousands of units when we could only buy ten, fueled us to keep going.

The thrill we got out of completing a big task on the “To Do List,” bringing us closer to our goal was an exhilarating accomplishment. It was breaks from the jobber in New York eager to find our fabric and the tech support who spent 2 hours on the line as we figured out how to “host” our blog that helped us recognize the value of being kind. Our experiences so far have inspired us all the more to deliver the garments that we first set out to create. We are dedicated to making Emma Graham Designs offer exactly what we, and you, have been looking for all along.

Favorite Thing about the Business: The experiences associated with our hands-on sales approach. We travel to sell so we get to meet the end consumer of each product in a variety of memorable settings (charity events, trunks shows, horse races etc.).

Worst Thing About the Business: Asking for health insurance for you birthday.

Biggest Challenge: Finding the perfect fabric for our garments (contents, width, color, weight, reordering ability, price.)

Lesson Learned: If you think it’s going to take 1 day it’s really going to take 4!