We use cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to visit this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Policies & Disclosures

FIDM Students Make it to the Finals in NRF Foundation Student Challenge

FIDM Students Make it to the Finals in NRF Foundation Student Challenge

Congratulations to both FIDM Student teams who submitted entries in the 2020-2021 NRF Foundation Student Challenge. They are two of the three teams that have made it to the final round, out of close to 30 submissions. The FIDM teams include students Ellie Smith (A.A. Merchandise Product Development, Advanced A.A. IMPD, B.S. Business Management), Etheline Ting (A.A. Fashion Design, B.A. Design), Emily Wilken (A.A. Textile Design, B.A. Design), Kaci Balfany (A.A. Graphic Design, B.S. Business Management), Ysabella Gardner (A.A. Merchandising & Marketing, B.S. Business Management), and Tiffany Makdissy (A.A. Fashion Design, B.A. Design). The winner will be announced on January 12th at the virtual Big Show where Condoleezza Rice will be the Opening Keynote Speaker.

In this year’s competition, the NRF challenged students nationwide to create a set of products to take their business to the next level by getting their line into a major retailer: Nordstrom, Target, The Home Depot or Qurate Retail Group (QVC, HSN or Zulily).
Coached by FIDM Instructors Tom Selinske and Sheryl Marcus, each student team wrote business plans for a product. One team (Ellie Smith, Etheline Ting, and Emily Wilken) proposed a modular sustainable furniture line for Target, "Home Planet x Target," while the other team (Kaci Balfany, Ysabella Gardner, and Tiffany Makdissy) proposed an antimicrobial accessories/clothing line for the children’s department at Nordstrom, "Berri+Cade x Nordstrom." FIDM Instructor Rich Gordon, an Outstanding Faculty Award winner, was the graphic coach that helped the students with their pitch decks.
“The NRF Foundation Student Challenge offers students an opportunity to apply many of the tools and ideas from their education and demonstrate that they can perform at a very high level,” said FIDM Instructor Tom Selinske. “This is exemplified by having our two teams in the top three finalists out of 28 teams nationally.”
Teams collaborated on a 25-30 slide pitch presentation and a 90-second pitch video to convince their selected retailer of why and how their businesses would collaborate. The NRF called for two to four entrepreneurs per team to establish a small business venture in a retail sector of their choice.
"Collaboration between startups and large corporations is a mutually beneficial way for retailers to enter new, smaller markets and for startups to develop products and scale, with the common strategic goals of growth, improving competitive positioning and generating sustainable profitable revenue," the NRF site states.
The NRF Foundation Student Challenge offers undergraduate students at NRF University Member Schools the chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a real-world setting. Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided nearly $300,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country, and priceless career opportunities.
"It’s more than an exercise," states the NRF site. "A handful of teams earn the chance to present their pitch to leaders from retail’s biggest companies, with the top team earning a $6,000 tuition scholarship for each team member."
FIDM offers a Bachelor's degree in Business Management as well as a Master’s of Business Administration.
"I think what sets FIDM business majors apart from other universities is the specific focus on the business of fashion," said Sheryl Marcus, an Outstanding Faculty Award winner. "Because we are a smaller college, we can revise and create new curriculum quickly, based on industry needs. I also love that students can earn an A.A. in Fashion Design, as an example, and get a B.S. in Business Management. We offer a tremendous amount of flexibility for our students in our A.A., Bachelor’s, and MBA programs.”
“Our business majors first begin with creative students who realize that business concepts and tools will help make their design ideas a reality,” said Tom Selinske. “They are taught to plan and execute business strategies in a fast-paced environment. They practice profession presentations and teamwork throughout the business programs."
"Students get so much at FIDM," added Sheryl Marcus. "Because we are in Southern California, our students have a great deal of access to wholesalers, brands and retailers that are in our backyard. They can take advantage of these opportunities through internships and job opportunities. Because of the size of our school, it is easier for our students to create wonderful mentors with our instructors, Department Chairs, and the FIDM Career Center."

Three of the six students in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge finals are currently in the Bachelor of Arts in Design Program: Etheline Ting, Emily Wilken, and Tiffany Makdissy.
Follow NRF Foundation on Instagram and Twitter at @nrffoundation and like them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Categories:  Business Management Design Fashion Design Graphic Design International Manufacturing & Product Development Merchandise Product Development Merchandising & Marketing Textile Design Industry Partnerships Student