Spring 2018

When Myla Patterson-Smith (EMBA ’14) launched her online boutique children’s apparel venture last year, she had the help of two savvy business partners: daughters Stephanie and Samantha Smith, then ages 6 and 3.

Their love of fashion and penchant for sketching creative outfits inspired Patterson-Smith to develop a line of girls’ clothing based on their designs. She calls their business SASS-E Todds (short for Stephanie and Samantha Smith Empower Toddlers) and works with a manufacturer in New Jersey to produce the line.

“My youngest daughter was born during my EMBA tenure,” Patterson-Smith says. “My classmates and I used to joke that she absorbed the curriculum through osmosis.”

She involves her girls in everything from design and textile selection to sales and partnerships. “They are truly learning every aspect of the business,” she says.

Their unique mom-daughter venture has attracted media attention in Chicago, where they live, and nationally. In March, she and the girls were featured in a live segment of NBC’s daytime talk show “Megyn Kelly Today.”

Patterson-Smith says she still consults her notes from her business strategy class. “It taught me the importance of differentiation, identifying my ‘perfect customer’ and how successful businesses make decisions,” she says.