Student Receives Scholarship Award From NRF Foundation Student Challenge
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Kearney, Nebraska, Kaci Balfany transferred to FIDM Los Angeles in 2018 from Art Institute of California - Hollywood. After receiving an A.A. in Graphic Design from FIDM last March, she began pursuing a B.S. in Business Management and is expected to graduate in June. Kaci recently placed third in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge and will receive a $2,500 scholarship along with her teammates. For their entry, Kaci’s team pitched Nordstrom leaders an antimicrobial accessories and clothing line for the children’s department, “Berri+Cade x Nordstrom.” We caught up with Kaci to learn about her journey.
How did it feel when you heard that your team took third place in the challenge? Full disclosure: I was sad, and I’m still sad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly thankful for the experience and opportunity that the NRF Foundation Student Challenge gave me. However, this project gave me something to look forward to for over six months, I am so sad that it’s over. I miss working with everyone! The only consolation is knowing FIDM still walked away with the title!
How did FIDM Instructors assist or help with your business plan? We had two FIDM Instructors who mentored us throughout the entire process. We would regularly meet with Sheryl Marcus and Tom Selinske to go over the project, and they would offer their professional input and opinion. They never ordered or instructed us to do anything, but without their guidance we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.
What was the most rewarding part of this journey? The Covid pandemic brought challenges for everyone, and we’re still enduring those challenges. At a time when things felt really bleak and I began to doubt myself, FIDM believed in me and wanted me to represent them. Especially towards the beginning, this project was the only thing keeping me going. I lost friends to political differences, and loved ones to Covid. Being able to work on this gave me purpose and a family. It was cathartic in so many ways! I can’t wait until things are safe enough to finally meet my teammates, the [first place] E team, Tom, and Sheryl in person and give them all hugs!
Did you divide the work up or work on everything together? It was a mix of both. We were upfront with each other on all of our strengths and weaknesses. Between the three of us, we never shamed or criticized each other. We all knew what our expectations were, and we trusted each other. We would do some things together, and we would also do some things individually and come back as a group to review. We always got each other’s input before finalizing anything.
What lessons did you learn while participating in this challenge? First, to be patient. Folding under pressure is easy. Allow things to happen as they will. Second, trust your instincts. Some decisions don’t need to be calculative or intentional to be correct. Third, do it for yourself, whatever it is.
How will the $2,500 award help you with your goals? This will allow me to add that much to my personal savings for after I graduate, should I still need time to search for a job to stay in LA.
What are your ultimate career goals? My end goal is to be a creative director or art director for international companies in fashion, tech, music, or really any company that trusts and believes in the power of creativity.