When the new Student Innovation Center opened on campus this fall semester, Innovate 1858, a student-run retail store, also opened inside the building. 

Innovate 1858 welcomes Iowa State students to pitch their products for a chance to be sold in the store. As of right now, several students have products on the shelves of Innovate 1858.

In addition to students who sell their products at the store, Innovate 1858 is completely staffed by Iowa State students in the apparel, merchandising and event hospitality and management program. 

innovate 1858

Innovate 1858 is located in the new Student Innovation Center on campus. 

“So I worked beginning last August in the store when it officially opened as a sales associate but this semester I am a HR supervisor,” Audrey McMillan, a student who works at Innovate 1858, said.

Working at Innovate 1858 is a little bit different than most retail jobs, however.

“There are two super unique things about the store,” Zoe Schumm, a graduate student in the apparel, merchandising and design program, said. “One is that it’s a student-run retail store, so the students that we have working at the store, they get to have ownership of what we do in the store. So how we display the things that we sell, what we do on social media and how are we going to price things.” 

Students who work in the store appreciate the experience they gain by working here. 

“It’s been a really awesome experience so far,” McMillan said. “You know the whole idea of a student-operated store is really interesting just because you get a much better perspective of how the hospitality industry works.”

The store’s product pitch session took place Tuesday night, where students were invited to pitch their products to a handful of professors from the apparel, events and hospitality management department and a few graduate students. 

“I did my pitch session online and I would say that was probably in October and then I got accepted into it and we just kind of followed all the steps from there,” said Rylie Knudtson, a student who sells polymer clay earrings at Innovate 1858.

According to Schumm, students are evaluated based on how well their products fit the store's assortment mix, how well their retail pricing fits and if they have the capacity to meet supply demands. The students selected to sell their products will be determined within the next few weeks. 

As for students who sell their products in the store, Innovate 1858 has generated a lot of local interest in the community for them.

“Probably within the last week or so I’ve gotten at least 30 more people or so following me on my Facebook page and when I go and see where they’re from, it’s Ames,” Knudtson said.

Although students run the store, the three target demographics are students, faculty and staff and alumni. 

Innovate 1858 is open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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