Whether it is a Glossier pink bubble wrap pouch, a paper Sweetgreen bag, or a “V” plastered on a pair of Veja sneakers, the Columbia Marketing Club knows that branding and marketing are inescapable in students’ daily lives—and not enough people on campus are talking about it.
Co-founders and co-presidents Andy Liu, CC ’21, and Elena Scott, CC ’21, were disappointed that they rarely saw their career interests reflected in the clubs at Columbia. This semester, they decided to create the Columbia Marketing Club, Columbia’s only undergraduate organization dedicated to marketing and branding. Through online events, marketing education, and professional development, CMC aims to create a community for people interested in marketing, branding, retail, and e-commerce.
“Marketing is a pretty broad space or function in business, so it’s kind of confusing why it’s not here,” Liu said.
Soon after CMC’s founding, Liu and Scott realized that they were not alone in wanting this type of space on campus: Over 60 students applied to sit on the club’s board, and their applications conveyed widespread interest in consumer goods, especially fashion.
As CMC’s new creative director, Natalie Ginsberg, CC ’23, oversees CMC’s social media pages, creates graphics and mood boards, and manages the visual component of the club. Ginsberg explained that CMC is not only a space where she can express her creativity, but also a space where she can see her interests represented in the professional sphere.
“I’ve always been a little bit unsure of what I want to do, but I know that I’m interested in art, interested in business, and I think the Columbia Marketing Club has just shown me that there is an intersection,” Ginsberg said.
At Columbia, resources for careers in fashion, beauty, or entrepreneurship are not as developed or varied as resources for careers in finance or consulting. Moreover, at the undergraduate level, Columbia offers few courses on marketing or business.
Scott had to look outside of Columbia’s resources for opportunities to develop her marketing and fashion skills, interning at Dior and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While she enjoyed the few fashion courses she has taken at Columbia, her academic and professional lives have remained unconnected for most of her Columbia experience.
“I have my Columbia life, and I have my fashion or professional interests outside of school life. That was very separate for me for a long time,” Scott explained.
To bridge the gap, CMC hosts online events to spark conversation around issues within the marketing, fashion, and beauty industries. Over the past couple of months, CMC has collaborated with the Columbia Women’s Business Society to host Zoom events with Cami Tellez, Co-Founder and CEO of Parade, a trendy, sustainable underwear brand, to discuss the brand’s advocacy and sustainability efforts; and Olamide Olowe, the co-founder and CEO of Topicals, a skincare brand tailored for chronic skin conditions. OIowe’s experience as a female entrepreneur demystified the glamor of the beauty industry; she spoke about the everyday work of building her brand’s image and sometimes having to deal with investors that did not understand her brand.
More recently, CMC hosted an intimate Q&A session with Jessica Chi, CC ’15, BUS ’21, a former beauty marketing manager at L’Oreal. Chi spoke about her experience in the beauty industry and gave students tips on how to stand out in business-oriented roles: Be passionate about beauty, knowledgeable of products and their packaging, and willing to do the necessary grunt work.
While most of CMC’s events have focused on the intersection between business, beauty, and fashion, the board is trying to cover other industries like tech, food, and beverage to make the club more inclusive of different interests.
“We’re trying to make our club more gender-neutral, because a lot of the things that we’ve done in the past have been more directed towards females,” Director of External Relations Ilana Rubin, BC ’24, said. “So we are trying to diversify that. Make sure it’s more inclusive, and that everyone can get excited about the brands we’re featuring.”