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FIDM Student Haley Shannon stands outside against shrubbery

NRF Foundation Student Challenge Finalist Haley Shannon Heads to NYC to Pitch Panel of Judges at Retail's Big Show on January 16

Born and raised Seattle, Washington, and a graduate of Eastlake High School, B.S. Apparel Technical Design student Haley Shannon is on one of the three national teams that has made it to the final round in the 2021-2022 NRF Foundation Student Challenge. She will be headed to New York City with teammates Tooba Athar and K-Lynn Ward on January 16th to pitch their presentation to a panel of judges at Retail's Big Show, and the top team will be named. College students from across the nation were tasked with acting as members of the Kohl’s product development team and had the opportunity to develop a new private label brand that embodies the meaning of diversity and promotes equity and inclusion through product assortment, marketing strategy, and pricing. 

This will be Haley's first time attending Retail's Big Show, where more than 55 companies will be displaying the latest tech in sustainability, e-commerce, supply chain logistics, in-store technology, AI, AR/VR, robotics and more in the Innovation Lab. This year, attendees will find drones and robots that deliver consumer goods, a virtual try-on mirror, livestream shopping solutions, 3D virtual stores, and the world's fastest self-checkout system, among many other innovations.

On target to graduate this year from FIDM with her Bachelor's degree, we caught up with Haley to learn more about her experience in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge.

This year, 19 teams from 16 NRF Foundation University Member schools competed in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge business case competition for a chance to earn tuition scholarships and industry recognition. How does it feel knowing that your team has made it to the final round? It feels absolutely amazing. We’ve been working so hard since June and it’s so rewarding to see how far our work has taken us.

Tell us some of the ways that the new private label brand your team created for the NRF Foundation Student Challenge embodies the meaning of diversity and promotes equity and inclusion: Our brand, MODfit, is the embodiment of what me, Tooba, and K-Lynn see as an addition to creating a more equitable and inclusive apparel industry. Clothing for individuals with physical disabilities has been on overlooked and the selection for such products are slim and difficult to find. MODfit is an adaptive clothing brand that focuses on being fashionable and trendy so that people can live their best lives feeling cute and comfortable in the clothing they are wearing, no matter their ability!
What has been the most rewarding part of this journey? Through this project I have learned many different angles to the industry that I had not been exposed to before. I am a very product based individual, and to gain insight on other aspects of the apparel industry has been such a wonderful learning experience.
Did your team divide the work up or work on everything together? We did a little bit of both; we are individuals who all have such great things to bring to the table and when working on this project we did such a great job highlighting each other’s strengths and supported each other the whole way. 
How did FIDM Instructors assist or help with your pitch presentation? Tom Selinske and Sheryl Marcus were superstars from the very beginning! Coming into this program I was a little anxious because I knew the work load would be heavy and difficult. They were so supportive and helpful in guiding us how to go about such an ambitious prompt. They made sure to provide us with excellent articles and on where to research so that our work was accurate and the best it could possibly be.
What lessons did you learn while participating in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge? This whole experience taught me the importance of rolling with the punches and how adaptability and understanding your teammates is the key to making such a successful work experience and product.

What are you most looking forward to at Retail's Big Show in New York City? I mostly look forward to gaining more insight on the retail industry in the United States as a whole.
How will the scholarship award help you? The scholarship award will help me finish my dream degree, Bachelor’s of Science in Apparel Technical Design, and further my education so that I can continue doing what I love—making clothing that makes an impact in our society.
What are your ultimate career goals? My ultimate goal is to be a part of something bigger than myself, and make a difference in the apparel industry. I am constantly inspired by sustainability and innovation in design and that is what I aim to accomplish in my career, and would love to be surrounded by people who share my vision.
Anything else you’d like to share? I’d love to shout out Prof. Wallace who took time out of her busy schedule to help us with all of the costing and production strategies. Thanks Wallace!

Categories:  Apparel Technical Design Industry Partnerships Student