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MBA sets the stage for establishing a new style

by Jennifer Johnson,

Saraa Green

She interned at Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Ise White and Eva Khurshid by her first year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She developed designs for a Japanese brand, traveled the world training companies on knit technology, then landed a job in footwear technology at Adidas in 2016. 

Saraa Green ’19 MBA had an impressive career, but she wanted to advance it even more. 

During her Willamette MBA, she developed a business plan for a hair product — The Braid Releaser, a tool that removes braids quickly and tangle-free — that’s currently patent pending and being distributed in the U.S. She wants the business to become a one-stop shop for consumers, and the product has already gained national attention

“Women and men will always wear braids, no matter what culture or age,” she said. “It’s a statement in the Black community but also within Hispanic and Asian culture — it’s not a dying market.” 

Green has always possessed an eye for creativity. As a child in New Jersey, she was surrounded by it: She spent days reupholstering furniture with her grandmother, who was an interior designer, while her mother, Angela, invented the original braid releaser in 1992. 

But after all of her experience — the unpaid internships with famous designers, the pre-college courses she’d taken at FIT, the knitwear degree itself — she still couldn’t get a job. 

“Now you see a lot of Black creatives breaking into the industry, breaking down the barriers and really changing how the fashion industry is perceived. But years ago, that wasn’t the case,” she said. 

So she kept hustling. It was only after she did makeup at New York Fashion Week for Kotoba NYC — a womenswear brand owned by knitting machine manufacturer Shima Seiki — that she got noticed then hired by the manufacturer. In 2011, she developed designs for a few seasons of their WholeGarment line before moving to a global sales tech position, which led to the job at Adidas. At age 25, she moved from the East Coast to Portland. 

Seeking a promotion, Green decided to get her MBA. After she graduated, a chance meeting with Arielle Loren, founder of the business funding app 100K Incubator, helped her officially launch The Braid Releaser in 2020. 

Opportunities to support the business kept coming. Last year, she won a grant pitch competition through Brown Girl Jane and SheaMoisture, then became a member of the Target Forward Founders accelerator program, which enhanced her knowledge about supply chains, branding and marketing. 

Green is currently amid a rebrand and a subscription box is in development. Despite the full-time pursuit of her new venture, she hasn’t stopped working at Adidas. 

“Adidas is my dream job,” she said. “I love what I do.” 

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