A team of college graduates from the University of North Texas that won the NRF Foundation Student Challenge  will sell their winning product — a tote that includes compartments to hide digital devices and pack away shoes — today on HSN.

The students partnered with designer Danielle DiFerdinando, founder and creative director of the Danielle Nicole handbag brand, and one of the competition’s judges, to bring the bag to market. “The girls came up with the concept of an interior shoe compartment and multi-organization of the tote. I brought the fashion spin to it and produced the actual bag,” said DiFerdinando. “It took a year to create the construction and mold of the bag design…Shoes fit perfectly inside the bag.”

The winning tote from the NRF Foundation student challenge. 


“This group of students showed immense passion and creativity during the competition, and that enthusiasm was key to seeing their idea come to life,” said National Retail Federation Foundation executive director Ellen Davis.

“It all started with a school project, and now it’s turned into this incredible opportunity to represent this finished product we’ve worked so hard to create,” said team member McKenzie Hibler. “My time in college shaped me in more ways than I ever imagined.” Hibler teamed with Katelyn Patrick Boutin, Nichole Fallis and Ashley Nudge on the project. All are recent graduates of the University of North Texas merchandising and digital retailing programs.

The annual event is a business case competition for NRF Student Association members to demonstrate their creativity and business acumen to retail executives, and is sponsored by KPMG. The award is presented each January at the NRF foundation gala in New York.

Three of the students will appear with DiFerdinando today, from 7 and 9 p.m. on HSN’s American Dreams segment, when the bag, called the Danielle Nicole M.A.K.N. Orenda Tote, goes on sale.


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