MA Entrepreneurship: Fashion and Creative Industries graduate Matilde Mourinho shares her experience of studying a Master’s at the Condé Nast College and how to kickstart your business during a pandemic.
What drew you to the College and your course specifically?
Prior to my MA, I took part in the 10 Week Vogue Fashion Certificate Course at the college back in 2015, during my gap year from my studies which I used to gain experience within the industry. I loved the experience and genuinely felt that I learned so much about the industry in such a short amount of time. A few years later, after I completed my bachelor’s degree and worked in the industry, I heard that the College was introducing Masters Degrees. I probably would have also done my BA there too, but at the time the College only offered short courses.
What drew me to the MA Entrepreneurship course specifically was how unique and tailored the course and the curriculum seemed. I knew I wanted to start my own business for a long time, but felt I lacked a certain knowledge and set of skills on how exactly to do it, and the course really aided me in this.
How would you describe your experience?
I really loved my experience at the College. I loved that it was a small college, where everyone knows each other. This made it really easy to form not only friendships but industry relationships with people who will be working alongside you in the coming years. On my course, everyone had such diverse ideas and at no point was there a feeling of competitiveness but more a feeling of empowering and helping each other. I found it hugely beneficial to be in a room with like-minded peers who all had completely different skill sets, backgrounds, and ideas, and without a doubt is the thing I missed the most when our studies moved online due to Covid-19.
Since graduating, can you tell us about the journey of how you got to where you are now?
I graduated in November 2020, and kickstarted my own business, MATILDE Jewellery in early December 2020, so it has been quite a busy couple of months! For me personally, it never felt like the work stopped once I finished the course, if anything it really started then as the reality of launching a brand happened. There were most definitely hurdles and challenging times, but I had to very quickly adapt and overcome those. Now just over a month on from launching, the work most definitely has not stopped but I feel extremely grateful and excited for how it is all going.
Tell us about MATILDE Jewellery and the story behind it. Was it something you always wanted to do?
Absolutely. Since I can remember I have always wanted to kickstart my own business, and jewellery has always been something that I feel so passionate about. Combining the two just made sense but I knew I didn’t want it to be just another jewellery brand. After extensively researching the jewellery industry, I learned so much about the detrimental harms that the industry has both environmentally and socially, and the more I learned the less I could ignore it. It became really clear to me that I wanted to do things differently and offer a sustainable and ethical alternative to the traditional fine jewellery brands that are out there.
How did your studies help inform the launch of MATILDE Jewellery?
I think the main thing that the college did was really set a foundation and structure that hugely informed the launch of MATILDE Jewellery. Although I have been working on the brand for over a year, the first few months were solely spent on doing market research. From research in the current trends in the jewellery industry, researching competitors, doing market research, and speaking to potential customers; these are all things that had to be and were done before the brand even started to be built. And it was and still continues to be a vital foundation for the brand.
What was your favourite thing about studying at the College?
Without a doubt the people. It definitely made the experience, to be able to meet and share ideas with such like-minded people who at the same time had such diverse backgrounds and ideas and inspirations. As well as the teachers, who I still keep in touch with even after having graduated, were so insightful and really supportive throughout. I always felt like they genuinely had my best intentions in mind.
You joined the Class of 2020 graduating during a global pandemic. What did you learn about yourself and your studies during this time?
It was quite challenging at the start, I think like so many we were quite naive to begin with about how long we would be in this situation for, so in March when we were told to not come into the college I genuinely thought it would be temporary but as the reality of it started to sink in and I realised I would be doing 50% of my Master’s degree online, it without a doubt affected my motivation, as I am sure it did with so many around the world.
But in retrospect, I definitely think it taught me how to be agile and adaptable. Once the sulking was done, we all had to be really quick at changing how we were doing things, whether that be from the perspective of the College who had to change everything to online, or the students who had to adapt to these learning circumstances. At one point I did feel like “Why am I launching a business in the middle of a global pandemic” – but I learned to look at things differently and really shift and adapt my thinking, which is a vital skill to have not only as an entrepreneur but in general too.
What advice would you give to prospective students looking to join the college?
If you are looking to join the MA Entrepreneurship course, I would say it is most beneficial if you really want to launch your own business, as it is extremely tailored to that. Having said that, it is not limited to that, and I do believe the skills you gain from it are very interchangeable. I would also say it is definitely hard work, but it is worth it, and it really pays off in the end. Make the most of the other students who are there, everyone has so much to share it would be silly not to take advantage of that in every way (both professionally and personally).
What do you hope to see within the future of the fashion industry this year?
I really hope to see more sustainable and conscious brands. We have already seen a huge shift in consumer behaviour, and so many brands being held accountable for their past mistakes and making promises about becoming more transparent and responsible, so I would love to see those promises be fulfilled. Specifically, to the jewellery industry, I would love for the industry to shift its ways, to just become more aware of the damage it can cause, and to realise there are more sustainable alternatives. Consumers have shown a shift in awareness and in sustainable practices, so to see this continue to grow is what I hope for.