Experiential Learning Prompts Student to Dive Into his Own Business!

Shortly after earning his Master of Science in Finance at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School and entering the corporate world, Antonio Rojas realized that the finance career path was not for him.

So, he came back for a second master’s degree, and eventually traded in his daily business attire for color-changing swimwear by Capelle Miami, a swimwear company he founded.

“When I went back to school for a Master of Science in Leadership, which taught me the importance of emotional intelligence and listening as a leader, I took part in the Miami Herbert GLOBE trip to China. And it forever changed my life. There I discovered the color-changing technology of Miami Capelle’s Switch Shorts,” said Rojas.

With the guidance of Professor Tie Su and their trip-lead from ChinaSense, Lisa Li, Rojas was able to visit Shaoxing, a textile district in China.

“When I first saw the technology, it was on a large sheet of fabric. I knew this would be an incredible opportunity to make men’s swimwear that would change colors in different water temperatures,” he said. “It took me back to the color-changing Hot Wheels toy cars I played with as a child. This was a pivotal moment in starting my venture.”

Capelle Miami, a Miami-based men’s swimwear company that replaces traditional swimwear with unique color-changing technology, was also inspired by the city of Paris, France.

“I lived in Paris when I was 18 years old, and was influenced by its fashion, culture and people,” Rojas said. “Years later, with this influence and the knowledge attained in business school, I realized there was a void and an opportunity for luxury men’s swimwear in Miami. In the future, I want people to say, ‘let’s get those shorts they sell in Miami,’ just like people refer to ‘those sandals from Brazil.’ ”  

Capelle Miami has also allowed Rojas to build his personal brand, which has brought him several consulting opportunities with entrepreneurs in the community. It has opened doors to share his expertise with small business owners.

Q: How did your education at Miami Herbert help you start up your business?

A: The finance program helped me understand the real meaning of hard work. I had to work harder than most students just to keep up with everyone else. In the finance world, I found my passion in consumer financial behavior. It was a key element in my education and one of my biggest takeaways.

The Master of Science in Leadership program taught me the importance of emotional intelligence and listening as a leader. This program, as well as the faculty who teach it, were extremely influential and still are today. I apply what I learned in this program daily at Capelle Miami.
Q: Was there a class or professor that was particularly meaningful or influential during your time at Miami Herbert?

A: So many. But I have to mention three outstanding faculty members.

Tie Su was a very influential professor during my time at Miami Herbert and still today. He has been a professor that has shown me who he is as a person and what it takes to be successful. Su has been a great mentor and extremely encouraging during this stage of my life. He really pushed me to give my all as a student in his class, as a trip-lead in China, and as an entrepreneur.

Another professor was my marketing professor, Claudia Townsend. We met only once a week on Saturdays, but Professor Townsend went above and beyond the responsibilities of a professor. She took her lessons outside of the classroom and into the real world to help me with my business.

And lastly, Linda Neider, whom I met while in the leadership program. Since, she has become an influential figure in my life. Dr. Neider helped me utilize my strengths and how to work to improve my weaknesses. She taught me that my emotional intelligence and an ability to command a room would one day be very beneficial in my career. Her coaching gave me the tools to succeed in my business and in life.

I also must mention the Miami Herbert Business School program staff, who provided endless support and guidance during my time at the U. Erika Murillo, Tania Abouzeide, Janeth Moran, and Naquia Williams became like family to me. I could visit them any time and they would always greet me with a smile, readily available to provide support.

Q: Best experience, memory from your time at Miami Herbert?

A: Of course, among my best experiences were my trips to China. They literally changed my life. Countless students went on GLOBE trips to China, all with the same opportunity to make the most of it. But I truly feel I made the most of that opportunity.

Another great experience was that in both my programs, my classmates chose me to deliver the class speech during our awards ceremony to our winning faculty. I was an elected leader and voice for my cohorts and that meant a lot to me.

Q: What is your advice for current Miami Herbert students?

A: My advice to current students is: Be action takers. Don’t just take classes, think how those classes are going to change your life. How will your education make you a real professional and better person that can contribute something substantial to your community? 

Passion and actions are the key to success, no matter what you choose to do in life. Apply your passion in your classes, your endeavors, and your businesses.

By Marlen Lebish

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