By Michaela Ard
At the beginning of the 2009 school year, four Cal Poly
University students won six of the possible eight awards offered by
the Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Entrepreneurial Scholarship, and split
the first place cash prize.
These four students, Renee Roberts, Nicole Palumbo, Samantha
Gagne, and Lynette Salgado, were the first from Cal Poly to have
ever won the prestigious scholarship.
The scholarship granted a monetary award of $1,000 to students
who could put forth the best business plan or design notion for a
line of apparel or accessory products, according to the Fashion
Business Institute. In order to succeed and win the competition,
the four teammates had to conceptualize an original idea to present
to Target an idea that would make the apparel department of the
store more profitable.
The team’s unique project was titled, “My Brand.”
Renee Roberts, a third-year apparel merchandising and
management student, said they focused on “a two-fold proposal that
target[ed] the idea that in order to be trendy in today’s society,
you have to be able to put together a unique one-of-a-kind
Roberts further said, “they should improve the way they display
[merchandise] in the store to promote full outfit purchases.”
In other words, the company should place multiple items
together to offer ensemble ideas so the customer will purchase more
items per transaction.
Developing multiple redesigns in store formatting was only one
aspect of the competition. The students also developed a
revolutionary idea to create an “entire online site . . . geared
towards Target’s younger women customers,” said Renee.
The team created a virtual online Target dressing room, which
allowed customers to shop and piece together outfits via the
The team impressed the judges from Target so much that
according to Peter Kilduff, Professor and Chair of the Apparel
Merchandising and Management Department, they were any easy choice
for first place.
“They identified the problem . . . Target was confronting, and
came up with a workable solution and presented it very
professionally. It was really outstanding work they did,” he
Numerous approaches must be taken in order to do well in such a
project provided by the scholarship.
“It is imperative for the student to have a specific goal in
mind,” said Samantha Gagne, a third-year apparel merchandising and
She said sometimes too many ideas were being presented all at
once, and they felt it would be best to “add in a few details here
and there and exclude anything that would draw too much attention
away from what [they] were really trying to accomplish.”
Days of planning and practicing their business plan, which was
ultimately presented in front of a group of Target judges, resulted
in the team of students wining the $1,000 prize.
“I enjoyed every aspect of the project, from brainstorming and
refining ideas with [her] group, to presenting the project, and
winning was obviously a great accomplishment and something
worthwhile,” said Samantha Gagne.
Gagne also said the strong bond she developed between the three
other girls was a prize within itself.
Peter Kilduff, AMM department chair; Allie Poon; Ethan Eller, the New Mart; Nicole Palumbo; Samantha Gagne; Lynette Salgado; Frances Harder FBI President; Renee Roberts; Trish Le Barge; and Ernesto Mantilla Betty Bottom Showroom.
Apparel Merchandising and Management Students Win $1000 Scholarship
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