After her experience in the MAFED classrooms, Margarita Serrano, a Colombian native, created a women’s clothing brand in New York offering ideal essentials for any social occasion. She’s already won over America and is now poised to launch her brand in China.
She’s always been ambitious. Since the days of her Law studies in Bogotá, she wanted to create the “perfect” leather jacket. So her passion for fashion drove her far away from law courts and legal offices, taking her from New York to Milan and back again, a trip that led her to become one of the rising young stars of American fashion. Even Forbes recently gave her a long, flattering interview.
Margarita Serrano smiles, thinking back on her time in the Big Apple, fresh out of university and working as an “all-purpose” intern for a fashion company. That’s when she decided to take the leap: in 2013 she registered for the Master in Fashion, Experience & Design Management (MAFED) at SDA Bocconi, and the following year she founded her eponymous brand: SERRANO.
“I wanted to create a clothing line that reflected my creative aesthetic, one with a really feminine feel. To do that, I started a search, looking for tailoring fabrics used for Italian men’s wear, and then I repurposed some of the styles and concepts in the women’s collections. The months I spent in Milan and the Master course I took there were essential steps on my learning path. It wasn’t so much one specific class, but the entire MAFED experience that enabled me to become an entrepreneur. My teachers, my classmates, the producers I met when I lived in Milan – they all contributed in some way to crafting the business idea that I had in mind, and that I eventually managed to realize.”
Margarita still remembers a watershed moment, the decisive meeting Paul Surridge, a prominent creative director for a number of fashion brands and a guest speaker at MAFED. “At one point, as I was talking to him about my entrepreneurial project, Paul said: ‘Margarita, do something that makes you special: pick a product, a model, a color, a type of fabric, anything that will make the market recognize you.’ And it was right then that I decided I’d start with an iconic product - a blazer - an essential piece in every woman’s wardrobe, an investment piece, because the distinctive character of my brand is the search for true, enduring cool elegance.”
The return to New York coincided with a very busy time for the company and for Margarita, and one not without its challenges. Such as growing the business on her own, without partners or investors, so she could maintain her independence. “It took me about five years to build a solid base in terms of the product and the supply chain. Finding the right fabrics and the right producers took massive effort and countless trips to factories and fairs to put together my supply chain, a process that’s never simple, it calls for careful attention. I wanted to build a network around me, made up of international excellence that would enable me to produce high-quality garments. It’s true that today some of the production is done in China and India, but I haven’t forgotten my roots, and I keep on working with Italian fabric suppliers and a tailoring workshop in Colombia.”
Serrano’s business model is direct-to-consumer, with deliveries shipped directly from the New York headquarters. In the last two years Margarita has been focusing on growing the line on the US e-commerce scene, and thanks to digital marketing campaigns the results have been impressive. “Since I got back to New York my goal has always been to grow the brand on the US market, building a team of creative, intelligent people.”
Today the US market represents 85% of SERRANO’s sales. Australia is in second place with 8% and the rest comes from international markets (Europe, Colombia, etc.). In the US, the two main markets are New York City and California, followed by Texas and Florida.
“A project I’ve been working on for a while now is to launch and grow a brand on the Chinese market. We’re introducing SERRANO in China with TMALL Global (Alibaba’s e-commerce platform) and we’re convinced that soon we’re going to see good results.”
And the perfect blazer? “Not that, I haven’t created that yet, but I’m sure I will!”