Newswire Fashion Mannuscript

Alumna’s Career Path with Rutgers Business of Fashion Master’s Program

Photo courtesy of Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick

Her sights set on a career in healthcare, Brooke Pikiell filled her schedule at Northwestern University with pre-med courses. But the pandemic prevented the psychology major from getting hands-on experience in the field. It wasn’t until she began an accelerated nursing program after college that she realized it wasn’t for her.

Pikiell, who attended Northwestern on a full basketball scholarship, felt she was back at square one on her career quest. While researching options online, she came across Rutgers Business School’s Master of Science in Business of Fashion (MSBF).

“I’d always been interested in fashion but figured beyond being a designer or model, the career options were few,” Pikiell said. At 5-feet-10, she grew up watching “Project Runway” and clothes shopping with her mom when she wasn’t playing basketball. (Her father is Rutgers Men’s Basketball Head Coach Steve Pikiell.)

After a conversation with program director Tavy Ronen, Pikiell said she realized the Master of Science in Business of Fashion was a perfect fit for her.

The graduate program provides a rigorous academic business school degree tailored to the fashion industry. Students complete 10 courses, including core classes in finance, accounting, and supply chain. They also have opportunities to interact with industry professionals during the course of the program.

Pikiell was working part time at a boutique near her Basking Ridge home when she enrolled at Rutgers Business School in the fall of 2022. The program taught her business fundamentals as well as marketing, branding, and runway production. During her first semester, she got to volunteer at New York Fashion Week, helping to set up a designer’s runway show. “It was so exciting,” she said. “It confirmed I’d made the right choice.”

In her second semester, Pikiell landed an internship with Markarian, a high-end women’s wear brand in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. At the time, Markarian had only seven employees, so Pikiell got experience in many facets of the business. She managed inventory, shipped orders, dressed models and even helped with a photo shoot. With classes on evenings and Saturdays, she was able to juggle school, the internship, and her part-time boutique job.

Pikiell graduated in January and is living in Manhattan and working full time for Markarian, which now has over 30 employees. She is a showroom assistant and customer relations liaison, where she is intimately involved in the luxury firm’s daily operations. “I get to apply all the knowledge I learned at RBS to my job,” she said.

What impressed Pikiell most about the master’s in business of fashion was “how well-rounded the program is, and how much we learned in such a short period of time.” She described the career management course as extremely useful: “The final was a mock interview,” she said.

Among her favorite classes was the Industry Leaders Seminar Series on Saturdays when she got to talk with fashion professionals. She liked it so much she took it for three semesters.

Adjunct Professor Loubna Erraji was impressed by Pikiell’s group project in the entrepreneurship class. Pikiell and her teammates developed “an innovative way for fashion shopping,” Erraji said. Pikiell described the proposal as “basically an Uber Eats for clothes.”

Pikiell’s long-term goal is to work in sports fashion, “combining basketball and fashion — my two favorite things.”