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Innovate 1858 celebrates third anniversary

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

Iowa State’s own student-operated retail store, Innovate 1858, celebrated its third anniversary Thursday. Established in 2020, the store showcases a variety of student, staff and alumni created products at its store located in the Student Innovation Center.

“Innovate 1858 was created to enhance the specialized entrepreneurship education available to students in the apparel, events and hospitality management department, specifically within the apparel, merchandising and design program,” said Emily Worrall, head manager and Iowa State alumna.

Innovate 1858’s third birthday party took place at this year’s Student Innovation Center open house. The celebration was complete with birthday decorations and a backdrop for photo opportunities. Students and visitors could also try their luck at a spin-the-wheel game for a chance to win prizes and store merchandise.

“I think we were able to make a lot of people aware of what Innovate is, and the event also helped us grow our following on social media,” said Iowa State junior and visual/events manager Keili Holt.

Entering year three of operation, Innovate 1858 has come a long way since its establishment. Opening its doors in 2020, the store was faced with the challenge of getting started during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the support of students, staff and alumni the store has been able to grow and flourish over its three years of operation. 

“Since the launch in 2020, Innovate 1858 has collaborated with over 35 cyclone student and alumni makers and provided retail entrepreneurship experiences to 50 student employees,” Worrall said.

In addition to providing students, staff and alumni with the opportunity to showcase and sell their products in-store, Innovate 1858 also provides work experience and career development skills to its student employees. 

“Working at Innovate over the past two years has been a great experience that I feel like has really prepared me for a career in merchandising,” Holt said.

Students entering their first year working at Innovate 1858 are also enrolled in a three-credit course teaching merchandising skills through activities and quizzes. Some of these activities are directly reflected at Innovate 1858, such as designing new merchandise to be sold in-store. 

“The course elevates the store beyond being just a part-time job for students, allowing them to take responsibility for all aspects of the business,” Worrall said.

Holt began her time at Innovate 1858 as a part of the e-commerce team and has been able to learn a variety of skills from working on multiple teams.

“As a student-run store, we get to make the decisions on what to sell and how we present it, which I think is a great opportunity for us to learn and get experience independently,” Holt said.

As a university and student-focused business, Innovate 1858 often collaborates alongside other student organizations on campus. Since its establishment, Innovate 1858 has worked with Iowa State’s The Fashion Show to promote and sell its merchandise in-store. The Fashion Show’s merchandise is sold exclusively at the Student Innovation Center store and helps to promote and grow both organizations. 

This year, Innovate 1858 will also be collaborating with TREND Magazine. The organizations will work together to host a tailgate at Iowa State’s football game against Oklahoma State on Sept. 23. The TREND takeover tailgate will be hosted on the balcony of the Alumni Center and will showcase a variety of products, with a portion of the proceeds helping fund TREND Magazine. 

In addition to its collaborative tailgates with other student organizations, Innovate 1858 will host a tailgate of its own at each of Iowa State’s home football games. The tailgates will all take place on the balcony of the Alumni Center and will have a variety of merchandise for sale.

Stepping into a new year, Innovate 1858 has big plans to further improve and develop the store, said Camryn Mosty, Iowa State junior and multi-channel lead manager. Mosty said this year the store is looking to “continue to grow and improve its learning lab while also broadening our customer reach.”

Innovate 1858 also has plans for a rebranding process this year. The store will be seeking to incorporate a new logo as well as make improvements to its online webstore. 

As Innovate 1858 commences its third year of operation, the student-focused business continues to improve and provide opportunities to members of the Iowa State community, past and present, while embodying the principles of the university and its dedication to innovation.

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