Meet Virginia Darden’s MBA Class Of 2020

Kelly Bonilla

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

Beauty tech (yes, we’re making it a thing) entrepreneur and Latina from Miami. Teach for America and Georgetown alum.”

Hometown: Miami, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: Third generation entrepreneur and #girlboss, with it all starting with my abuela who worked her way up from Cuban exile and seamstress to clothing company owner with 200 employees.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University, Government

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Co-founder and Co-CEO of Slay (

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Launching a revenue-generating tech company on a shoestring budget with my best friend/former coworker/fellow Darden 2020 classmate!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Personable and interesting. I’ve been so impressed with the diversity of experience of my classmates and how social, approachable, and welcoming they are.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  I actually spent months mulling this over as I submitted my deposit to Sloan in February before deciding Darden was a much better fit for me in April. My decision came down to fit and people. At Darden, I felt there was a tight-knit, supportive, and nurturing community that would be a better fit for me personally and as an entrepreneur running a startup in school. Before stepping step on grounds, Darden went above and beyond to support me, my co-founder, and our company. The people at met at Darden- future classmates, current students, and staff- all claimed their favorite things about the school are the people and tight community, and that’s exactly what I saw come to life while on grounds.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? iLab

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was studying for the GMAT in spring of 2017 when my co-founder and now classmate, Jade, and I started working on Slay. As a government major, I don’t have many of the hard skills to run a large enterprise effectively. I want to have the skills to effectively lead our company not only in the startup stage and as we grow into a million dollar business, but to and through our journey to being a billion dollar game-changer that puts beauty tech and female entrepreneurs of color on the map.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Having a full-tuition fellowship and support from Darden’s entrepreneurial programs and The Consortium made the ROI very clear.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Accepted to MIT Sloan (with substantial scholarship), Berkeley Haas, Dartmouth Tuck, and Georgetown McDonough.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized size and culture. I only applied to programs with a few hundred students as I wanted a more intimate experience. While I was interviewing, I was surprised that I really preferred the schools in small towns, particularly Darden and Tuck. I’ve only lived in big cities, but found myself loving the small college towns as they fostered such a unique culture and tighter bonds amongst classmates and faculty. As an entrepreneur, it was especially important to me to have the support of my classmates, professors, and school community. I found researching culture difficult, as lots of schools have similar “culture” on paper, but it really comes to life in person and can be completely different.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Continue to grow Slay.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Slay is the preeminent beauty technology platform and has put the category on the map. We’ve helped grow thousands of small businesses while building out a robust CSR program that empowers fellow women of color entrepreneurs and is admired and replicated by other startups that value both profit and social good.

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