VIDEO: Alumnus & Entrepreneur Transforms BBA Thesis into Fashion Brand
“What’s not to like?” said Samantha Lightfoot, a 25-year old graduate of Yorkville University’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), about her life as an entrepreneur. “It feels like your job is your hobby.”
Lightfoot enrolled at Yorkville University with the goal to make her dream of owning her own fashion label a reality. Getting there, however, required intense focus, a leap of faith, and the courage to know that the competencies she gained through her studies in the BBA program had prepared her for the experience of being an entrepreneur in a competitive industry.
“I started out working in marketing for a handbag company in downtown Vancouver,” said Lightfoot. “In my last semester of school, I quit that job, and I focused solely on Yorkville.”
Lightfoot approached that last semester at Yorkville with a clear sense of purpose, using her studies as a platform for launching her business.
“I focused my final paper around the changing landscape of the retail industry,” she said. “I developed my business plan, and really started to get that into motion. It was always in my head, but now on paper, and after graduating, I didn’t look for a job, I just solely went to work [for myself].”
That business plan became Riot Theory Apparel, a line of cozy, understated, classic-yet-current pieces with an air of sophistication, yet broad appeal. Within just a couple of weeks of graduating with her BBA from Yorkville, Riot Theory Apparel was launched. Lightfoot and her company were recently featured in the Vancouver Sun.
“We focus on elevated essentials for women,” said Lightfoot, picking up a sweater that juxtaposes an almost preppy navy-and-white stripe, with romantic bell-sleeves, made in a structured jersey knit fabric. “All our clothing is sold online right now,” Lightfoot explained about her company’s business model. “We have two wholesale accounts, one in Ontario and one here in BC but our main focus is online sales and growing [the business] that way. We like to connect with local businesses and people in Vancouver. It’s hard for people to find you online, so social media ads, and connecting with other entrepreneurs and businesses and bloggers is important.”
Lightfoot, who has a diploma in Fashion Marketing, said she knew she needed a solid business education to turn her dream of owning a fashion label into a reality.
“I think a lot of people [in the Fashion Marketing program] chose not to go on and do their business degree,” Lightfoot said, “but I felt that it was really important in terms of getting more education under my belt, demanding a higher pay grade, and ultimately starting my own business.”
At first, Lightfoot was somewhat concerned about whether or not she would be able to handle doing a degree online. But said she soon realized that her fears were unfounded.
“It turned out that it was such an amazing fit,” she said. “Not only could I do it online, but I thrived doing it online, and ultimately, it pushed me to [establish] my business online and to work from home. [My degree at Yorkville] set me up for my business, and the more I went through every course, I realized this was the avenue I wanted to be in, and I found it engaging and interesting.”