Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s work-from-home line earns top award in NRF Foundation Student Challenge

By Lottie Watts
Published Feb 9, 2021

The top team in the 2021 NRF Foundation Student Challenge was announced during the opening session of NRF2021: Retail’s Big Show – Chapter 1.

A team of three undergraduates from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) each received a $6,000 scholarship.

For the competition, Ellie Smith, Etheline Ting and Emily Wilken pitched small space solutions to Target with a furniture and home goods line designed to appeal to people who are using their home as their workspace due to the pandemic.

“This was an opportunity to dive in really deep into sustainability and the supply chain, and learn how to bring a product to fruition,” Smith said. “We worked so hard on this and we genuinely had so much fun.”

Each student on the second-place team from the Savannah College of Art & Design received $3,500. Members of the third-place team – also from FIDM – were awarded $2,500 each.

Since its launch, more than $330,000 in funds have been awarded through the NRF Foundation Student Challenge, which offers undergraduates a chance to get real-world experience, apply what they’ve learned in their courses and collaborate with other students across majors.

Applications for the next NRF Foundation Student Challenge are open now to undergraduates at NRF University Member Schools who will be sophomores or above at the time the scholarship is awarded in January 2022.

Students are invited to form teams of two to four to act as members of the product development team for Kohl’s. The team will be tasked with developing a new, private label brand that embodies the meaning of diversity and promotes equity and inclusion through product assortment, marketing strategy, pricing and more.

Educators and students can find out more during informational calls scheduled For Feb. 25, March 17 and April 14.

The NRF Foundation continues to offer free programming focused on career opportunities in the retail industry. Spring NRF Foundation All Access is underway now with recruiter chats, on-demand conversations with retail professionals and online Executive Mentor Experience sessions planned for March.  

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