Main Content

Alumni Profile: Ari Mahller, BA/MA '02

It’s great to see that WCJ has made a positive difference in people’s lives.

Ari Mahller, '01, MA '02
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Graduate Student Ambassador Sebastian Scott MBA ’15 returned to Los Angeles for Winter break and reached out to Brandeis International Business School alumnus Ari Mahler, president and founder of West Coast Jewelry, to learn about his story and the road to successfully starting your own business.

"I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurship, and curious about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur." -- Sebastian Scott, MBA '15

As a first year MBA student at Brandeis IBS, I am an inspired and motivated businessman specializing in Corporate Finance and Marketing. Prior to Brandeis IBS, I worked for Bechtel Equipment Operations as a Procurement and Inventory Manager. And while I gained firsthand experience in project management, operations strategy, and team leadership, I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurship, and curious about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

[SS] Where did you earn your undergraduate degree, and what was your major?

[AM] I earned my BA in Economics from Brandeis University.

 

[SS] Why did you choose Brandeis IBS for your Graduate Business Program and how did you decide it was the right time to get your Graduate degree?

[AM] I chose Brandeis IBS because it gave me the unique opportunity to be a part of the BA/MA class at the school. In addition, I felt that Brandeis IBS would further develop my skill set and understanding of international business.

 

[SS] Did you have a favorite class?

[AM] My favorite classes were those taught by Professor Ben Gomes-Casseres because he kept the students engaged and he really challenged us as we analyzed case studies.

[SS] Were there any particular resources you used to network that you found helpful when you were seeking a post grad job?

[AM] In addition to the Brandeis IBS Career Development Center, I found networking with Brandeis alumni and friends in Los Angeles to be a vital resource for post-graduation employment, and as I continued down my career path.  

 

[SS] Can you tell me what your career path was like leading up to your current role?

[AM] For three years, I was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Stardust Diamonds, a manufacturer and wholesaler of luxury diamond jewelry, specializing in bridal jewelry for large and fancy colored diamonds.

I spent the next two years as the Director of E-Commerce and Marketing at Kobelli by Baguette World, a manufacturer and wholesaler of mass market diamond jewelry, specializing in bridal jewelry and price point diamond jewelry.

Finally, after spending several years learning about the industry and developing my network, I founded West Coast Jewelry in January of 2007. West Coast Jewelry is a leader in the fashion jewelry market. Our products are sold through WestCoastJewelry.com, as well as through some of the largest online retailers in the USA, such as overstock.com and amazon.com

 

[SS] What are your day–to–day responsibilities?

[AM] When I first started the business, I was doing all of the day-to-day operations, such as shipping and receiving, online orders, billing, brand management, and marketing.

However, as my business grew, I hired associates to take over these day-to-day responsibilities. This has allowed me oversee the entire organization and support my staff, as  needed.

 

[SS] What about your current career is most exciting for you? Is there something you get to work on that you feel most proud of or that makes your day?

[AM] While it is very rewarding to know that my products are reaching people in all corners of the world, I am equally proud of the fact that I currently employ 18 people who support their families. Because we live in tough times and work is not easy to come by, it’s great to see that WCJ has made a positive difference in people’s lives.

[SS] What has been one of your career highlights to date? Or what are your career goals at this stage in your career?

[AM] One of the highlights of my career thus far has been starting my own business and building it from the ground up. Before I was able to grow my business, I was shipping products out of my kitchen and working long nights to meet customer demands.

While the jewelry industry is becoming increasingly competitive due to new entrants in the market, I believe that we have the right team in place and loyal customer base to increase our sales revenue further.

 

[SS] What is something you wish you knew prior to beginning your post grad career? Or do you have any advice for someone entering this field?

[AM] I would advise current Brandeis IBS students to network with alumni and friends as frequently as possible. The way companies hire today has changed, and it has become as much about whom you know as to what you know.


Conclusion

After spending the afternoon with Mr. Mahller and learning about his career path, I now feel refocused and reenergized for the next set of challenges. And while I still have a lot to learn and skills that need further development, our meeting has reassured me that I am capable of starting my own business and achieving my wild aspirations. I will undoubtedly take with me Mr. Mahller’s secrets to success and raw knowledge as I progress with my MBA, and I will re-enter the work force as a more complete businessman.