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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The Dreamers 2016

The Dreamers 2016

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The Dreamers are rising stars who might be light on experience, but their heart, energy and passion inspire everyone around them. They’re already making waves in their store, company or hometown with their fresh ideas, big dreams and sky-high goals.

Meet The Dreamers 2016:

Moziah Bridges

Moziah Bridges

CEO
Mos Bows

Dapper beyond his years, Moziah “Mo” Bridges believed as early as age nine that men should know how to tie their own ties. Unable to settle with a clip-on, he crafted scraps of his Granny’s fabric into more fashionable — and fun — neckwear.   

Now 13, Bridges is at the helm of Mo’s Bows, selling more than $300,000 in colorful, handcrafted bowties through retail stores such as Neiman Marcus. He also earned a spot on "Shark Tank, and gained a mentor while there: FUBU founder Daymond John. Moziah plans to have his own clothing line before age 20; the only question is if it will take that long. 

Bridges’ mother serves as CEO, and his grandmother, a retired seamstress, is also part of his staff. But Bridges still handpicks each piece of fabric and approves every visual element — all with the goal of making the world a more debonair place. 

“Figure out what you like doing and find out how to make money doing it.”
Moziah Bridges
Matthew Corrin

Matthew Corrin

Founder and CEO
Freshii

Matthew Corrin is not one to accept excuses — especially when it comes to eating well. Inspired by the mom-and-pop delis of New York, he set out to ensure healthy food was both convenient and affordable. The first Freshii restaurant opened in 2005 in Toronto. 

Like well-tended produce, Corrin’s vision has continued to grow: Two Freshii locations open every week. But Corrin also invests in good soil: Fresh Startups, a technology accelerator that supports other young companies that share Corrin’s goals, launched in 2013. Freshii partnerships also build school kitchens and vegetable gardens in developing communities.

The much-lauded entrepreneur, who admits to reading maniacally about the brands he admires, aims to create a killer culture, rather than a culture that kills the company. That requires as much of a long-term view as solving the challenges of providing nutrition to the masses, but Corrin is committed. “Freshii is the only job I will ever have,” he says. “I will own and build Freshii for decades.” 

“Talk is cheap — execution sets you apart.”
Matthew Corrin
Danielle DiFerdinando

Danielle DiFerdinando

Designer/Creative Director
Danielle Nicole

Danielle DiFerdinando’s love of retail and desire to work in this dynamic industry was sparked at a young age. 

Having spent her entire life surrounded by sales, DiFerdinando caught the retail bug while working at her father’s French fry company, Boardwalk Fries. It’s not hard to imagine DiFerdinando as a confident young girl, having conversations with customers. To this day, she still advocates talking to whomever is nearby because you never know what you may learn.

The tactic has done more than help her meet new people and learn fresh ideas. While interning at Bergdorf Goodman, DiFerdinando had a chat with a cosmetics buyer who asked where she’d purchased her handbag, one she had designed and constructed herself. DiFerdinando was well-prepared to seize the opportunity, having attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, studied abroad in Europe and apprenticed with several high-end houses along the way.  

Danielle Nicole handbags are now sold in major retailers and specialty boutiques worldwide, enabling DiFerdinando to live a “dream come true” as she creates accessories that make women feel “confident and beautiful every day.”

“When an opportunity presents itself, take it.”
Danielle DiFerdinando
Alexis Ringwald

Alexis Ringwald

Co-Founder and CEO
LearnUp

Imagine spending six months in unemployment offices and coming out inspired. Alexis Ringwald wasn’t looking for work; the serial entrepreneur was instead seeking answers to the complex U.S. skills gap challenge. More specifically, she was trying to determine why it is so hard for jobseekers to find employment.

That journey led to the creation of LearnUp, a job-specific online training and interview coaching initiative which targets entry-level job seekers. The start-up recently secured $8 million in Series A financing, and retailers such as AT&T, Gap Inc. and Dick’s Sporting Goods are all on board.

Lifelong learning is in Ringwald’s bones. Prior to LearnUp, she co-founded Valence Energy, a clean tech company. She also spent three years in India as a Fulbright Scholar, and while there, co-directed a Climate Solutions Road Tour, driving 2,400 miles in solar plug-in electric vehicles. It should be no surprise Ringwald's current endeavor would be full of adventure, too.

“Take CHARGE! ... It’s up to you to empower yourself to take the next step, to ask for advice, ask for an interview, ask for a promotion.”
Alexis Ringwald
The List Quiz

Are you a power player, disruptor, dreamer, influencer or giver? Find your retail superstar personality with this interactive quiz.