EMBA Student Offers a Taste of the International Marketplace
By Donna Emert
A walk though Derek and Christina Lucky’s Coeur d’Alene business, Lucky Monkey Trading Co., is a stroll through the international marketplace.
Shoppers are greeted by the faint scent of exotic oils, an explosion of color and texture, and an eclectic selection of clothing, bags and jewelry, representing multiple cultures and each artisan’s unique talents.
Lucky Monkey’s Bohemian chic merchandise is hand crafted of natural materials. While their wares also are accessible in the virtual marketplace, their brick and mortar business in downtown Coeur d’Alene is worth stepping into. It is a funky, earthy, eye candy store, with a soul.
Lucky Monkey wares originate from Bali, Thailand, India and Mexico, and from the American Indians of the Southwest and local artisans. The Luckys work with fair trade vendors whenever possible, and promote green practices by seeking out and featuring the work of artisans who follow sustainable practices.
The Luckys set up shop in Coeur d’Alene in 2006. A remodel last October doubled their retail space to 1,700 square feet. In addition to the couple themselves, the shop currently employs three part-time and one full-time staff, and adds several more to the payroll during the spring and summer months and the Christmas season.
Derek has a master’s degree in behavioral analysis from the University of North Texas, and has worked with children with disabilities, and with autistic children. Christina holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UNT, and master of fine arts degree in painting and drawing from Central Washington University. They met at UNT.
In addition to owning and operating their own business, they have two children, ages 6 and 2. It was a pretty busy life, and became even busier when Derek decided to enter the Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) program through the University of Idaho at Coeur d’Alene. The move is an integral part of his family’s business plan.
“My intention is to utilize the knowledge and skills acquired through the EMBA program to effectively build Lucky Monkey Trading Co. into a regional retailer,” says Derek.
“If I am going to take on the challenge of building a small, single store retailer into a multi-store retailer," he notes, "it is important for me to do so with skills that offer me the best opportunity to be successful at endeavors such as managing remote locations, hiring for talent, social media marketing, more effectively incorporating sustainability or funding my business.”
The greatest challenge inherent in simultaneously raising a family, running a business and pursuing a degree is time management, say Derek. But he focuses on the big picture, and sees education as an investment in the future.
Every investment, even education, holds some risk. But Derek feels both well prepared for the challenge, and truly lucky.
“The relationships I have developed and the remarkable unforeseen opportunities are the direct result of placing myself in a very challenging and thought-provoking environment,” he says.
“I have made friends with fellow EMBA students and faculty. They have regularly offered support inside and outside the classroom by sharing their unique personal and professional perspectives," he says. "I know that going forward, I will always be able to seek the insightful advice of my friends in the program.”
Derek is on track to earn his MBA from the University of Idaho in May of 2012.