Innovate 1858 focuses on student culture


Autumn Graybill

Innovate 1858 is one of the student-run stores located in the Student Innovation Center.

Student-run retailer, Innovate 1858, speaks to the identity of Cyclones through trendy apparel and merchandise designed “for Cyclones, by Cyclones.”

On the first floor of the student innovation center, Iowa State students and alumni can find merchandise ranging from cups to quarter zips that emphasize Cyclone culture.

With a surplus of Cyclone merchandise in the Ames area, Emily Worrall, store supervisor and Instructor of the coinciding course for Innovate 1858, speaks on how Innovate 1858 sets itself apart from other on-campus retailers.

“Everything here has a real emphasis on students, we’ve kind of found our niche in the market of inside jokes with fellow Cyclones,” Worrall said. “The swans and the squirrels, they’re all things that we try to emphasize.”

Rachel Abbott, a freshman in elementary education, finds that Innovate 1858 offers merchandise that other retailers do not provide.

“Whenever I walk by the store something always catches my eye,” Abbott said. “I think that since a lot of the products are made by students, they know what students actually want to wear.”

Everything at Innovate 1858 is student-designed or made. The unique store opens a door to student entrepreneurs looking to expand into broader audiences and product development. Innovate 1858 holds product pitches twice a month on Wednesdays. Students simply have to fill out an application online beforehand or stop in during the allocated time slot.

“Product pitches are super informal, they’re like elevator pitches,” Worrall said. “Students can have a finished product that they want to show us or one they’re wanting us to assist them with to get to that finish line. Even if it’s an idea, we’re willing to work with them.”

Innovate 1858’s mission to connect with students translates not only through their assistance with young entrepreneurs but through their hands-on experience granted to employees of the store as well.

Innovate 1858 has transitioned into course credit, with Worrall as an assistant professor, alongside the salary received by students. In this course, students learn to understand everything from public relations, human resources, design, marketing, social media and more.

“When students apply to work here, they apply to certain departments that they’re interested in like they would with any company, so anyone from accounting to design has a place here at Innovate,” Worrall said.

Innovate 1858 has many success stories surrounding its designers, such as Sky Ivy, a print design company and Linda Tong Planners, a handwritten bullet journal company.

Innovate 1858’s focus on student expression and entrepreneurship has led it to be one of the only student-run stores that sell student-designed merchandise on a university campus, and continues to help creative minds bring their dreams to fruition.