“One thing I learned in business school is that you must keep an open mind as to where the business goes. You might need to pivot but you must stay true to the mission.” – Kerry Slade, Fox School of Business alum and President/Founder of Slade Unlimited, LLC.
Fox Management Consulting (Fox MC) caught up with recent Fox alum Kerry Slade, Global MBA ’16, to discuss how her work with Fox MC helped shape her path as an entrepreneur.
In addition to being the President and Founder of the accessory company Slade Unlimited, LLC, Slade wears many hats and excels at all of them. She’s an adjunct professor for the Fox School of Business at Temple University and is an associate at Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP. These roles provide Slade support as she bootstraps Slade Unlimited into a revenue-generating enterprise.
Slade Unlimited operates with a mission to create sustainable, ethical jobs in emerging markets by importing high quality accessory products that are manufactured in emerging markets. By maintaining a close relationship with its suppliers and partners, Slade Unlimited closely monitors both the environmental and social impacts of the business.
Inspiration for Slade Unlimited came when Slade worked as a teacher in Malawi in 2005. Slade developed a strong bond with her students and cared for their well-being in and outside of the classroom. After leaving Malawi, Slade attended law school and maintained contact with her students while she pursued her law degree. Once Slade started practicing as an attorney, she began sponsoring children in Malawi to go to high school. After some of her students had graduated and were unable to obtain jobs, Slade observed a bigger problem: the massive unemployment rate within the country. She wanted to do something about it. This led her to pursue an MBA at the Fox School of Business, so that she could refine her business skills. At Fox, Slade studied social enterprises and the triple bottom line (TBL) framework, in which companies focus on the social, environmental, and financial impacts of their business. This served as a foundation for her own for-profit business. While completing her summer internship during her first year at Fox, Slade began working on her company, Slade Unlimited.
Fast forward 10 years after her teaching days in Malawi, and Slade Unlimited launched in November 2016, celebrating with a kick-off party on November 10, 2016. During the party, Slade sold out of one of her most popular product lines, showing promise for the demand for her products and enthusiasm for her mission. Since then, Slade brought on Heather Qader, Global MBA ’16 as Chief Marketing Officer. Qader will build and execute the firm’s marketing strategy.
Slade says that her time at the Fox School of Business contributed to her early success as an entrepreneur. The intellectual and emotional support from professors, the structure of Fox’s Global MBA program, and course content provided a foundation for launching and growing a new venture. More specifically, Slade mentioned a Fox MC consulting project from her marketing class. She, and a team of Fox MBAs, developed a retail distribution strategy and marketing plan for Sari Bari, a social enterprise that produces women’s accessories from recycled saris and provides employment to women looking for a way out of the sex industry. Sari Bari recently received the prestigious $1 million Opus Prize. This project provided Slade an opportunity to research the dynamics of retail distribution within the U.S. market and an understanding of how social enterprises differentiate products through careful and creative marketing. As part of her MBA capstone, Slade worked on a Fox MC consulting project that developed a strategy and plan for entrepreneurial education at The Enterprise Center, again providing her with an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship, while developing recommendations for a client.
When asked about the future state of the brand, Slade mentioned her goals are to deepen her relationship with her suppliers, get more press to bring more attention to the brand, and to improve her products overall.
Slade left us with a quote that serves as a message to both current and aspiring entrepreneurs. “It sounds cliché in business school to say that ‘failure is good.’ But when you’re out there by yourself as an entrepreneur, you realize it’s true, which helps you cope with any obstacles that may come your way.”