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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

MEM Graduate Enters the Fashion World

By Anna Fiorentino
January 2013 • CoolStuff

Andrea Marron
Andrea Marron MEM'12, first recipient of the Conrades Distinguished Fellowship

Andrea Marron MEM'12 is making over the digital strategy of a well-known fashion label and in doing so, the image of the average MEM graduate.

As a twentysomething, Marron dons the title Director of Digital Strategy for a premiere fashion house, Nicole Miller, has run a short-lived but successful dressmaking business of her own, and she is just getting started. Like so many other women out there, Marron is paving the way for a new engineer—in her case at the intersection of fashion and E-commerce.

"Nicole Miller was one of many fashion brands that did not anticipate the rapid growth of E-commerce and did not make it a core part of the business," says Marron, who in 2008 received her B.S. in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester. "I saw this as a great opportunity to get involved on a very challenging project to bring Nicole Miller up to speed digitally."

She joined the company for her MEM internship, and last March came on full time to head up digital operations for Nicole Miller CEO Bud Konheim '57.

Konheim, Marron's mentor, was an English major who took some time away from Dartmouth to work on Wall Street and then at his father's textile factory because his father had gone bankrupt. Eventually, after graduating he also took over his mother's business, and later in 1982 hired Nicole Miller to design clothing, making her a partner. Konheim had always farmed out his E-commerce tasks to a third party, but under Konheim's guidance, Marron is in the process of bringing the web operation in-house.

"Since I started full-time in March, it's felt like we are all running a startup within Nicole Miller," says Marron, first recipient of the Conrades Distinguished Fellowship at Thayer School, awarded in recognition of leadership potential. "E-Commerce sales have nearly doubled since July 2012. Our digital strategy for 2013 includes the launch of a state-of-the-art website in May. We hope that this along with other tech investments will double sales again in 2013."

Marron wears any number of hats on a given day, many of which she tried on for size at Thayer. In 2008, she was named one of Businessweek's 25 top entrepreneurs under the age of 25 for the custom-made dresses she made at a company she launched in 2007. On her website, Marron had customers designing their own custom dresses for $200 through an online interface, a seamstress busily making the dresses, and customers receiving their orders in just 10 days. Marron moved on to pursue more scalable ideas at Thayer, and the experience became a stepping stone for Nicole Miller and whatever comes next.

"I really like the space I'm in now, straddling tech and fashion," says Marron. "I want to learn as much as I can about business, tech and fashion at Nicole Miller and eventually, run my own business or perhaps a few, more than likely in E-commerce."

Tags: M.E.M.

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