Though currently based in Portugal, Patty Farmer remains a true New Yorker. Earning both undergraduate and master’s degrees from LIM, Patty is a successful entrepreneur who is now Vice Chair of the College’s Board of Directors and a member of the LIM Fashion Education Foundation Board. She’s also a published author, real estate developer, and dedicated mentor. We caught up with Patty recently to talk about the role LIM played in shaping her career and who she is today.

Q: Why did you initially choose to attend LIM College? 

A: I chose LIM for its business focus. Initially, I thought I wanted to become a fashion buyer. 

Q: How did your education shape your career plans? 

A: When I arrived at LIM, I thought that being a buyer meant that my job would be to travel around the world and buy everything. Dresses, shoes, jewelry… all of it. But as I learned more about what the career of a buyer actually entailed, I decided it was not the right path for me. 

The education I received at LIM in all aspects of the business of fashion allowed me to identify my goals and hone my talents. LIM was my guiding light—it provided the tools to truly understand what I wanted to achieve along with how to achieve those goals.

Q: Did you face any challenges while you were a student?

A: I didn't come from a privileged background or have family that could pay my tuition. I had to work and take out loans to afford college. But I was determined to build a successful career and my personal motto was always “Work hard and dream big.”

I worked at Georg Jensen—an iconic Danish lifestyle brand—on Madison Avenue after classes and on weekends for most of my time at LIM. During my senior year, I modeled for Wilhemina Models to help make ends meet. 

Q: What role did the faculty play in your career development?

A: Having professors who worked in the industry was incredible and invaluable. The people who were actually doing what I wanted to be doing one day were the ones teaching me! 

Q: Where did you career path end up taking you?

A: I decided I wanted to start my own business. At first, I thought I would open a high-end women’s boutique in Southern California. But after using what I learned at LIM to research demographics and market opportunities, I determined that a maternity boutique would be more successful.

I ended up opening what would eventually become a chain of four stores, called “Baby Makes Three.” We sold high-end maternity apparel, including business attire. This was a time when more and more women were pursuing careers outside the home, and they needed stylish maternity wear for the office. Because of my business education I was able to identify that as a growing market need. 

Q: How did you use your education to make your own business a success? 

A: I used a lot what I learned in my classes at LIM, such as how to make a business plan, the principles of buying, and more, to grow my business. In fact, even still had my textbooks from back when I was a student, and I would go back and look at them when I needed to! It’s true when they say you never stop being a student!

Q: What happened after Baby Makes Three?

A: It was a tremendous joy to watch my business grow. And after 16 years, I decided I was ready to pursue other ventures. I was able to once again utilize aspects of my LIM business education—this time when I went into real estate development and investment. I’m still involved in that and I also mentor and invest in small businesses.

Q: You’re also an author—with four books already published, including a best-seller. Can you tell us a little bit about your more creative professional pursuits, particularly your book about The Plaza Hotel?

A: Writing feeds my soul, and The Plaza has always captured my imagination. When I was a student, LIM held its graduation ceremony there, which was so exciting! 

So, when the hotel converted part of the building to condos, I was among the first to buy there. Talk about living out a dream! And I wrote a book about the history of this iconic New York landmark. It’s titled Starring the Plaza: Hollywood, Broadway, and High Society Visit the World’s Favorite Hotel, and was published by Beaufort Books in 2017. 

I’m currently working on a book about afternoon tea, which is set for release in early 2023. 

Q: You fund a named scholarship through the LIM Fashion Education Foundation. What motivated this generosity?

A: LIM has given me so much, so I feel it’s important for me to give back to the LIM community. In everything I do at and for LIM, the students come first. It’s about getting students whatever they need to be able to pursue their education.

Q: What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had as an alumna?

A: Over the years I have mentored many students and I still keep in touch with many of them. It makes me so proud to see these young professionals go on to achieve their goals, whether they become entrepreneurs or work for companies large or small. 

Q: What motivated you to go on and pursue a master’s degree in The Business of Fashion?

A: For many years it was my personal goal to complete a master’s degree. When I initially attended LIM, bachelor's degrees weren't yet offered—I graduated with an associate degree. So, my first step towards that goal of a master’s degree was enrolling in LIM’s online program to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Once that was accomplished, and because fashion and business have been my passion since I was 17, there was no internal debate about which master's program to apply to. Since LIM is the widely recognized industry leader in the business of fashion and lifestyle, I never considered going anywhere else.

Q: Having earned your first LIM degree on campus, what was it like to then be in an online program?
 
A:
LIM's online degree programs were challenging—but mainly, they were terrific. With a wide variety of courses to select from, I learned more than I ever expected, in a few subjects I didn't even know existed! 

One of the reasons LIM's online degree programs are so valuable is because of the caliber of the professors. My professors were all active professionals in the areas they taught, so they were able to easily pivot and provide instruction in the latest skills and information. The international aspects of licensing, business practices, marketing, supply chains, and more that I learned in my classes is knowledge I've applied in my current business career.

Q: As someone who has lived their dreams and enjoyed considerable professional success, what advice would give to the next generation who wants to pursue careers in the business of fashion and lifestyle?

A: The world is so big. With hard work, students can do and achieve whatever they dream of. You need to be fearless and be brave. If you don’t fail at some point, you’re not trying hard enough. And if you want to run the world, go to LIM!

Inspired by Patty's story? Learn more about LIM or apply today!