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November 10, 2021

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Brandcenter Students ask “What’s Next?” with Shift: VCU’s First Retail Lab Space

A team of now-Brandcenter alumni saw their brand identity and storefront concept come to life this week with the grand opening of Shift: a multifunctional retail space where past and present VCU students can showcase their work to gain insights and test their products, services and ideas with real-world customers.

The Brandcenter was tasked with creating an identity for the Broad Street storefront idea in 2019. A group of first year students from all Brandcenter concentrations took on the challenge, led by Brandcenter professor KT Schaeffer. The team landed on the name “Shift”: a word that speaks to the ever-changing nature of the retail space. They presented their concept to the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, operators of the storefront, including a detailed brand identity, website recommendations, a communications plan, experiential designs, merchandising, and physical signage. The students’ tagline for Shift, “What’s Next?” emphasizes the innovative nature of the retail space.

“Leading the next generation of creative problem solvers on this project was very inspiring,” says Schaeffer. “I watched in awe as they tirelessly put into action everything they had been learning at the Brandcenter. What they ultimately created is an identity rooted in a solid strategy, which allowed for the VCU da Vinci Center to bring the new venture to life.”

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., first announced the concept of the retail space in his State of the University Address in January 2020, saying it would be a “first-of-its-kind place where entrepreneurial students can join in creating innovations that accelerate their student experience and advance the human experience.”

Ahead of the opening, Rao said the lab would help accelerate the growing culture of student entrepreneurship at VCU.

"This project really highlights how creative and hardworking VCU students are,” says Chelsie Kelly (CW, 2021), a Brandcenter alumna who participated in the Shift project. “It was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I had at VCU. Knowing that I was able to leave something behind that can continue to make an impact on the community means so much to me."

Shift Retail Lab will be open to the public at 1235 W. Broad Street starting November 10. The da Vinci Center will provide entrepreneurial training to any student interested in the space through its VCU Entrepreneurship Academy micro-credential program. Read more about the launch of Shift on VCU News.

Congratulations to the following Brandcenter alumni for their work for Shift:

Chris Cole (AD, 2021)

Camden Dechert (AD, 2021)

Shannon Gerety (ST, 2021)

Shannon Gill (CW, 2021)

Lauryn Goodlett (XD, 2021)

Madeline Guzzo (AD, 2021

Charlie Hudson (ST, 2021)

Chelsie Kelly (CW, 2021)

Dani Loleng (XD, 2021)

Joe Mrava (XD, 2021)

Ellie Proctor (CBM, 2021)

Alex Reid (CBM, 2021)

Allison Schneider (CBM, 2021)

Amanda Yoon (CBM, 2021)