We continue our series of interviews with Clark’s graduates of the last decade (GOLD). We caught up with Nathalya Castro Argueta to find out what’s been happening since she left the Clark campus.
When did you graduate, and what did you do at Clark?
I graduated from Clark in 2018 with my bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in economics. In addition, I completed the 5th year program and earned an MBA in marketing in May 2019.
In high school, I knew I wanted to go to Clark, and looking back at my five years on campus, I still get chills. I was involved in different clubs, like the Latin American Student Organization, the Entrepreneurship Club, and the Clark University Consulting Group. I also worked at the LEEP Center as a front desk associate, where I helped students in different areas, from community engagement to career services. In addition, I interned with TJX for two summers and worked there while studying for my master’s.
What is your favorite Clark memory?
I have so many fun and favorite memories from Clark, but if I had to pick one, it would be senior week! The whole week was full of fun activities and the weather was great. It’s a time where you get so close to everyone in your class and make so many memories before graduation — before you enter the real world.
Spree Day is also on my list; it was always memorable.
And Professor Murphy’s marketing classes cannot go unmentioned. I think all business majors will agree with me on this. I’m happy to look back and have such amazing memories.
What have you been up to since graduation? Where are you now?
After living in Worcester for five years, I knew I wanted to move to another state, which ended up being California, where I worked for Tory Burch in Palo Alto. Moving to the west coast was definitely a change for me, and sometimes changes can be scary.
After my contract ended in December 2019, I decided to move back home to El Salvador and spend time with family and friends. This past year in the pandemic taught me that things will always work out for the best, and we have to truly believe in that. I can’t imagine living anywhere besides my home during a worldwide pandemic.
In February 2020, I was hired to work for one of the branches of Siman (Prisma Moda) — a department store in Central America — as a buyer trainee. After a month of training, I was furloughed, unfortunately. I remember being extremely upset, and sad at the same time because things didn’t go how I wanted.
However, I was extremely grateful to have health and a family that supported me. This is when I decided to launch a project that I had been working on for over two years — I had always been scared to take the risk. I would never consider myself a risk-taker; I like being secure and having a sense of stability in my life. But at the same time, risks are fun and exciting, so I took the opportunity. I started my own business!
Wow! You started a new business during the pandemic?! How has that been?
It all began because my family is in the textile and manufacturing industry in El Salvador. I always wanted to be involved in the family business, but with a different approach. It all started the summer of 2018, when I had to go back to work at the TJX distribution center, and I did not want to use my day-to-day clothes as it would get dirty very easily. So, I designed two or three different styles of blouses and had them manufactured at my family’s factory.
I remember my friends and coworkers liked the designs, so I gave them some. Eventually, I thought about the idea of creating my own brand, so I researched the retail industry in El Salvador and saw a need for comfy, stylish, chic, affordable pajamas. I looked at designs and created my first set for my cousin’s birthday party.
After a few months of giving it some thought and research, I decided to partner with my aunt. In the family business, she is the director of supply chain and quality control. She has always been passionate about starting her own brand, so I think it worked out perfectly. I had already come up with a name, KAKAI, which is the nickname my grandfather gave me. He was the founder of the family business, but he passed away in 1999, and I thought it would be a nice gesture to honor him for the legacy he built.
During the first few weeks, we were mostly selling gifts for babies, or personalized t-shirts. This was because most of our textile suppliers were closed during the pandemic. When we opened in August 2020, we purchased from different suppliers and officially launched our first set of pajamas in October. By November, we saw that the demand was growing faster than we expected, so we decided to launch our Christmas collection for the whole family. We were completely sold out the first two weeks of December! I was so happy to read feedback from customers saying we made their Christmas a little brighter.
I decided to dedicate my full-time work to KAKAI with the plan to diversify my product line to hit other markets. Right now, I’m working on creating a website, so people can shop online. We will see where this adventure takes us. It’s scary, but I know it’s worth it. One thing Clark taught me was to be passionate about what I believe in, and this is where I know I am on the right track.
Have you been developing any new skills or hobbies during the pandemic?
Yes, I have been taking different online courses, such as online sales training focused on social media. One thing I learned is the difference between personal and professional social media strategies; posting pictures and stories on your personal account is completely different than managing and selling products through social media. I think it’s important to know that once you graduate, you’ll never stop learning. Also, while you’re at Clark, take advantage of your study groups and the AC — I miss it!
Do you have any “adulting” tips or career advice you can share with your fellow Clarkies?
YES! Enjoy your time at Clark! Have fun, study with your friends, and live in the moment, because once you graduate, you’ll cherish those things forever.
But if I could advise my younger self back in 2018, I would say go for whatever you believe in and live in the moment. Don’t stress about the future because it’s uncertain. But most importantly, be grateful for the person you are becoming, and for the people that are in your life and the ones who have left. Everyone teaches you something that contributes to the most important relationship you have, which is with yourself.
Lastly, life is a roller coaster — the longest one for sure! It’s the one that has the most ups and downs, but it’s the journey of your life, so enjoy it! It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you it’s going to be worth it!
Oh! And enjoy the free food while you can!
Emilee Cocuzzo ’18, MBA ’19, is a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. She currently is one of the Class of 2018 representatives on the GOLD Council.