Babson College made a big impression on Audrey McLoghlin, even before the founder and CEO of the clothing brand Frank & Eileen™ decided that Babson was the perfect place to invest in and empower women entrepreneurs.
McLoghlin’s first job out of college was at an MIT startup in Boston, and during that time she met someone working on his MBA at Babson. “He told me the college was ranked number one in entrepreneurship in the country, and my mind was just blown. I remember thinking, ‘How can I be a part of that?’ ” McLoghlin said.
“It took me 22 years to get into Babson,” she joked. “It’s going to be so hard to get rid of me.”
McLoghlin capped a packed, three-day visit to Babson’s Wellesley campus on International Women’s Day, joining Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, at the official naming ceremony of the Frank & Eileen™ Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (F&E CWEL) at the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Today, we honor and celebrate the commitment that Audrey McLoghlin has made to the future generation of women, and we welcome her into our community of entrepreneurial leaders here at Babson College,” Spinelli said. “We are grateful to have Audrey as a partner.”
Authenticity and Timing Aligned
Shakenna K. Williams ’94, executive director of F&E CWEL, and Dominique Miles MBA’24, the first Babson student to receive the Frank & Eileen Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship, also were on hand as McLoghlin cut the ceremonial opening ribbon and Alicia Keys’ hit song “Girl on Fire” played in the background..
“I am extremely excited about working amongst the greatest entrepreneurial educators and leaders in the world and the whole Babson community to really support women entrepreneurs and watch them change the world,” McLoghlin said, extending her thanks to Miles for “allowing me the honor to call myself your mentor.”
Miles said she knew an MBA could take her business to the next level, her only concern had been financing the degree.
“When I was accepted and awarded this merit scholarship, I was thrilled. I’ve always believed that when authenticity and timing are aligned, the doors of opportunity will open,” Miles said. “My gratitude to Audrey has no limits, and her journey continues to inspire me every day.”
Women Changing the World
McLoghlin’s partnership with Babson was kindled in 2021 as Babson’s commitment to diversity in teaching entrepreneurs aligned with McLoghlin’s mission to ensure women were getting the resources they needed to become successful entrepreneurs and leaders.
“Women are changing the world, and we can cultivate that by helping more women become entrepreneurs,” McLoghlin said. “We were looking for partners in education, and the fact that Babson already had a center devoted to women entrepreneurs really gave it a distinction amongst the top entrepreneurial programs in the U.S.”
The partnership comes at an important time for women entrepreneurs. A recent report found that women doubt their capability to be an entrepreneur, despite wanting the job. According to the 2021/2022 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 78% of women and 75% of men thought entrepreneurship was a good career choice. Yet, only 57% of women feel capable of entrepreneurship compared with 72% of men.
“Closing these gaps and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion are among Babson’s most critical objectives,” Williams said. “We will wear the name of Frank & Eileen proudly as an example of their admired and inspiring vision to elevate women entrepreneurial leaders as a force for good.”
Logic and Problem Solving
McLoghlin has never been one to back down from a challenge. She earned her engineering degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology at a time when male students wildly outnumbered female students. When the original dotcom boom was crashing in 2000, she pivoted from engineering to fashion by moving to Los Angeles with a drive to learn apparel manufacturing and retail from the ground up.
“I had no experience in the apparel industry and no idea how things were supposed to be done, and it probably served me well, because I just applied logic and problem solving,” McLoghlin said.
McLoghlin launched Frank & Eileen in 2009, after connecting with an Italian family-owned shirting mill that had long provided the best-Italian-fabric-in-the-world for men’s button-up shirts. Frank & Eileen was founded on the simple idea of a better women’s button-up using these otherworldly fabrics historically reserved for menswear. She named the company after her Irish grandmother and grandfather, Frank and Eileen McLoghlin, steadily building and naming each style after a beloved family member.
“I think it’s one of my ways of just showing gratitude and thanks for the huge sacrifice my parents made to raise me in the United States,” McLoghlin said. Her mother and father left their families in Ireland in the 1970s when they were just 25, moving west to provide better opportunities for their future children. “My life would probably be very different if they hadn’t done that.”
“Women are changing the world, and we can cultivate that by helping more women become entrepreneurs.”
Audrey McLoghlin, Founder and CEO of Frank & Eileen™
When the COVID-19 pandemic triggered millions of dollars in canceled orders overnight, McLoghlin used the time created by mandatory quarantine to apply to become a B Corp certified company, a designation that means the business is meeting high standards in terms of social accountability and environmental sustainability.
“Not only did we receive the B Corp certification, but we got the highest impact score of any woman-owned, globally recognized U.S. apparel brand,” McLoghlin said. To celebrate, Audrey created the Frank & Eileen GIVING PLEDGE to support the women entrepreneurs of the future.
Now, McLoghlin, through the F&E CWEL, is focused on helping women find mentors and a plugged-in network of industry leaders, as well as providing leadership programs and venture accelerators to ensure women feel more than capable.
“Supporting women entrepreneurs is going to change the world,” McLoghlin told the crowd Wednesday. “It took me 22 years to get here. All of you out there, put down your retirement vision boards—we have a whole lot of work to do in the next 22 years.”