Featured case: Female Entrepreneurship:
Creating The Highville, Fashion in a Click

Share this page:
The case

whoWho – the protagonist

Saioa Aguirre, entrepreneur and owner of The Highville.

What?

The Highville was a digital platform where new items from the most exclusive luxury fashion forms were auctioned off, as well as casual fashion items.

The business served professional and sophisticated women who love luxury fashion but were not able to afford the latest trends.

Why?

whySaioa faced a massive decision.

She couldn’t get the project off the ground after months of hard work, and her resources were becoming scarce.

Should she chase her dream or concentrate on the family businesses?

When?

It was May 2016 when Saioa was weighing up her business’ future.

Where?

Saioa was based in Madrid, Spain but her business was online.

Key quote

“I think you have found your true customers and have figured out the right channels and relationships that you need to make the project profitable.” – a business school professor with some encouraging words for Saioa over a brunch meet-up.

What next?

Despite being certain that she was on the right path, Saioa couldn’t escape the reality that her business wasn’t generating cash flow, with financial resources fast running out.

Talks were at a standstill with her suppliers while users weren’t joining the platform at the expected rate.

Saioa was questioning what The Highville had to do to be successful, or should she abandon the project all together?

 
Interested in finding out more?
Download

Download the case and teaching note

Educators can login to view a free educator preview copy of this case and its teaching note.

Female Entrepreneurship: Creating The Highville, Fashion in a Click
Ref 820-0085-1

Teaching note
Ref 820-0085-8

The authors

author

Sofia Esqueda and Pablo Alamo

Sofia and Pablo discuss Saioa being a relatable protagonist, the need for more female protagonists in case studies, and how to manage sensitive topics.

Clear dilemma

Sofia said: “The story of Saioa and her entrepreneurship project raises a clear dilemma related to the changes that must be introduced to make her entrepreneurial idea successful.

Clear dilemma“In the classroom, the business model of The Highville and the entrepreneurial profile of Saioa generates a lot of discussion. Does Saioa have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Many people want to start a business, but few have the necessary characteristics to become a successful entrepreneur.”

Relating to the protagonist

Pablo commented: “Saioa’s efforts to succeed in her entrepreneurial activity makes the story more endearing. She invested many resources (time and money) to help The Highville succeed.

“Saioa invested in her education, and worked for a company to gain experience before beginning her own business. All these previous experiences and knowledge makes her story much more interesting and appealing to our students. They may see themselves in Saioa’s character.

“It’s a very common characteristic of entrepreneurs to become obsessed with a business idea and an entrepreneurial project, even more so when it responds to a truly disruptive idea that can become a big success.”

The need for more female protagonistsThe need for more female protagonists

Sofia explained: “Despite the strong presence of women in management education programmes, there is little presence of women as protagonists in business cases, as stated by Sharen and McGowan (2019).

“A business case study is a key tool in illustrating management challenges as well as the decision-making process, leadership and other business processes. Having an under representation of women in leading roles, helps to reinforce the existing stereotype of a lack of management capabilities among women.

“In The Highville case, Saioa is a young woman with a strong determination to start a new business, and to follow her dreams. This helps illustrate and promote intentional learning about gender equality.”

Handling a sensitive topic

Pablo added: “The most difficult challenge was Saioa remembering a project that included painful episodes, which weren’t pleasant to tell. With time having passed, emotional management is easier, but at the same time it is very difficult to be objective, because memory is selective. Often the experience is to only remember certain facts or events. Saioa made a great effort, and we are very grateful to her because the brain is powerful and can even overcome the selective memory process.”

The writing process

Sofia concluded: “The process of writing the case was really challenging and interesting. Mainly because we needed to collect all the information Saioa had about her entrepreneurial activity, and try to track all the decisions she made and why she made them. But we wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

About the authors

Sofia Esqueda is a Marketing Professor with special interest in the area of Market Research and Women Entrepreneurship at IESA.
e sofia.esqueda@iesa.edu.ve
tw @sofiaesqueda

Pablo Alamo is an International Distinguished Professor at CETYS Universidad. He’s a professor in the area of Leadership & Coaching, Corporate Governance & Business Ethics.
e pablo.alamo@cetys.mx
tw @pabloalamo

 

View a full list of featured cases