Having an MBA can get you a lot of places. But it’s not too often that it gets you to New York Fashion Week. That was the somewhat surprising trajectory for Weatherhead School of Management alumna Beth Purpich (MBA ’04) who, this week, is displaying her handbag line, Elizabeth Purpich Handbags, for the fourth time at the iconic fashion event.
Purpich has also collaborated with Mercedes-Benz, the NFL for Super Bowl 51 and has more high-profile partnerships in the works. So how did she get there? Her MBA helped a lot. “I use my education from Weatherhead so much. From when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep, I’m using parts of my education,” she says. “Whether it’s marketing and focusing on how to find the customer, serve the customer and make the sale, or the accounting and the finance—I do everything. I do everything except make popcorn and sweep the floor.”
Her favorite part of her work is marketing. It’s what she concentrated in at Weatherhead and she draws upon those lessons, daily. “I had Mohan Reddy and Jose Rosa as two of my professors and they really inspired me,” she says. “They showed me that marketing isn’t just qualitative, it’s also quantitative and they helped me develop how I to look at things from a strategy standpoint.”
Purpich didn’t come to Weatherhead with entrepreneurship in mind. She was interested in nonprofit work and worked in the nonprofit sector for some time after graduating. But she explained that the entrepreneurial drive was always inside her. And then, after a dream she had about a stylish handbag, she thought she’d make it happen. She researched manufacturers online and flew to New York to meet several of them. Once she had her manufacturer, she went to work making a 12-bag collection.
Her success didn’t come without a few bumps in the road, but Purpich maintains that her MBA helped her bounce back easier and avoid some potential disasters. “I haven’t made mistakes that most people would had they not gone to Weatherhead and gotten an MBA,” she says. “I fail all the time, but if I can fail fast and quickly and adjust and learn from it, that’s better.” With each fail comes more successes, and Purpich feels that she’s at a major tipping point for her company. She’s ready for it to take off, and says she has Weatherhead to thank. “Having an MBA, especially from Weatherhead, has catapulted me and sped up my entire growth process.”
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Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.