College of Human Sciences students unveil innovations, earn awards at E-Showcase

Student News Entrepreneurship News Honors and Awards News
By Breanna Bruening


Winners of the 16th annual College of Human Sciences Entrepreneurial Showcase were announced live in an online broadcast on May 1 at 9:30 a.m. Contestants were students in the Entrepreneurship in Human Sciences (AESHM 474) class who work in teams to develop and promote their projects. Established in 2004, the annual E-Showcase was conducted virtually this year.

“Faculty from the College of Human Sciences, Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, and many other departments at Iowa State — as well as business consultants, local entrepreneurs, and economic development specialists — serve as external evaluators to judge the student project pitches,” said professor of apparel, events, and hospitality management Linda Niehm, who piloted the event and continues championing the effort today. “They are critical to the success of the CHS Entrepreneurship Showcase each year.”

Each award at the CHS E-Showcase had a runner up and first place winner. The following students were recognized for their innovative business pitches.

Best of Show New Business Start-Up Idea

This award was given to a business concept that shows high degree of feasibility, is validated by market research, is innovative and unique, uses resources creatively or leverages resources to create unique competitive advantages, and has value and profit creating potential.

First Place, $300: Linda Tong Planners by Linda Tong. Linda Tong Planners designs and creates unique bullet journal planners that are printed, as well as personalized planners individually made to order. Planners come in colorful and minimalist styles to suit different personalities, filled with motivational quotes, monthly expense trackers, personal goals, or whatever pages the customer may request. 

Runner Up, $150: D-RAVEL by Grace Rigdon. D-RAVEL is a dress and travel app with the goal of helping travelers feel more comfortable and prepared while heading to a new city. The user will be able to see current city trends and weather, city shopping experiences; scroll through pins to create a personal look book based of wherethey’re traveling; create a custom profile so they remember their favorite shopping experiences, and have a premium interactive experience to chat with fellow travelers and influencers.

Best of Show Consulting Project for an Existing Business

Awards were given to proposed business enhancements that aid in creating brand identity for the business, foster unique competitive advantages, create added value for the firm and its customers, and ultimately have the potential to positively impact firm performance.

First Place, $300: ThreadIt by Vanessa Budnick, Emily Davidson, Isabella Schnitzler, Elena Sieverding, and Maddie Tiarks. ThreadIt offers the Ames area solutions to all the tailoring and clothing consultant needs ThreadIt provide a range of services from simple clothing repairs and alterations, to custom clothing and style consulting services. Currently, these services rely heavily on word of mouth marketing and social media to reach their customers. This project offers an innovative tool-kit of branding and competitive strategies to help ThreadIt grow and expand its customer base.

Runner Up, $150: British and American Foods and Gifts by Eileen Baird, Ryan Cacek, Alexandria Frake, Tara Huberty, Haley Huston, and Kimberly Schmerbach. British and American Foods and Gifts (BAFG) is a small specialty food retailer in Ames, Iowa. They offer mainly British foods and gifts, along with other cultural foods and items. BAFG has the potential to reach many more customers with increased use of signage, marketing, branding, and socialmedia. A tool-kit offers extensive customized competitive strategies in these areas and incorporates substantial experiential aspects to create a cohesive brand image for the business.

Best Use of Experience Economy Strategies

This award was open to new business ideas or consultation projects. Winners proposed business strategies incorporating substantial experiential aspects that add higher levels of value to the business. Experiential dimensions include: education, entertainment, escapist, and esthetic approaches.

First Place, $100: Clouds by Allison Anderson, Anna Berger, Kayla Kielkucki, Madison Parker, Molly Spurgin, and Mia Wheeler. Clouds is a European-style coffee shop and cafe located atop the Legacy building in the Campustown area of Ames. Clouds is known for its unique atmosphere and choices of coffee, tea and food. It is a great environment for students and others to enjoy food, relax, and enjoy the view. A tool-kit offers a range of innovative marketing, experiential, and competitive strategies to aid Clouds in growing its customer base.

Runner Up, $50: No Escape Iowa –Michelle Bailey, Kaitlyn Baxtar, Gina Chandler, Amanda Gors, Bailey Kavaliunas, and Emily Klein. Consumers have shown increased interest in escape rooms as a different type of entertainment. No Escape Iowa is able to satisfy those entertainment needs, by allowingcustomers to choose an escape room they would like to try out with friends, family or coworkers. No Escape Iowa can reach many more customers with increased use of signage, marketing, branding, and social media. A tool-kit offers extensive customized competitive strategies in these areas and incorporates substantial experiential aspects to create a cohesive brand image for the business.

Most Sustainable Business Proposal

The awarded businesses demonstrate a high degree potential success and sustainability in the marketplace due to the uniqueness of business concept, financial soundness of proposal, value created, sustainability of competitive advantages, scalability and growth potential of the concept, and the profit creating potential over time.

First Place, $100: Street Boutique Street Boutique by Hannah Haut. Central Iowa lacks accessible fashion shopping options in smaller communities and at events. Street Boutique addresses these needs with a mobile fashion truck. In addition to product offerings, Street Boutique gives back to the community by co-sponsoring events with philanthropic components.

Runner Up, $50: Relief, Relax, and Restore by Mariah Howard. Relief, Relax, and Restore is a counseling practice that offers a wide variety of services for all types of clients. It offers counselling sessions for anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, addiction, family counseling, and gives clients the opportunity to seek help from different platforms, not just in-clinic care.

Best Visual Presentation

The awardees’ visual presentations used esthetic elements (design elements and principles such as color, line, texture, balance, etc.) in an exceptional manner to create a cohesive brand image and added value for the proposed business.

First Place, $100: Under One Roof by Tierney Lynn and Maria Schussler. Under One Roof is a wedding venue that addresses all wedding planning, production elements, and day of needs. The venue offersthe option of an indoor wedding ceremony and reception area, and an outdoor wedding ceremony area. Under One Roof incorporates eight departments to successfully plan and produce your dream wedding, all presented visually in a distinct and attractivemanner.

Runner Up, $50: Ames British and American Food and Gifts by Eileen Baird, Ryan Cacek, Alexandria Frake, Tara Huberty, Haley Huston, and Kimberly Schmerbach. 

Technology Innovation Award

This award is based on use of technology to further strategic business goals. Technology can involve the product/offering itself or creative use of technology and/or social media as platforms within the business.

First Place, $100: D-RAVEL by Grace Rigdon.

Runner Up, $50: Alterations Made Easy by McKenna Brown, Maddie Schaefer, and Helen Rumelhart. Alterations Made Easy is an online platform that serves as a locator and quality control source that matches customer’s alterations needs with skilled tailoring experts. It fulfills an unmet need, servingas the middle-man to connect tailors and customers through an easy-to-use app.

Judges’ Choice Award

The Judges’ Choice Award is based on overall preference of business concept or consulting recommendations, appeal of business brand image, and display/presentation methods.

First Place, $100: Denim Bar by James Enowmbitang, Madison Kemp, and Hannah Harms. Americans throw away approximately 80 pounds of clothing annually. Denim Bar provides products and services that can reduce the amount of waste in the environment. Located in uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota, Denim Bar offers products and services to both men and women from up-cycled denim jean materials in store and online.

Runner Up, $50: Train to Outperform LLC by Ivan Apolonio. Train to Outperform LLC is a strength and conditioning facility that aims to target law enforcement personnel within the metro area of Des Moines, Iowa. The business focuses on improving the wellbeing and physical condition of current police officers and first responders, so they can be faster, stronger, and more proficient in meeting the demands of their positions.

Video coverage of the online event will be available early this week on the CHS website and will be shared on social media platforms. Student awardees will be further recognized via the CHS Merit pages.

Key contacts

Linda Niehm, professor, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, 515-294-1930,

Eulanda Sanders, department chair, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, 515-294-7474,

By Breanna Bruening