Indiana State University Newsroom

Textile students win honor for cyclists’ wallet design

April 8, 2013

While many students eagerly look forward to a spring break respite from classes, a group of Indiana State University students eagerly awaited word from their instructor during the weeklong retreat.

A wallet that a group of textiles, apparel and merchandising students created received runner-up honors in a contest by Natril Gear, a company that produces backpack-like bags for bicycles known as Luggers. The students in a class taught by Edie Wittenmyer created a design for a wallet that utilizes Natril Gear's leftover material from designing Luggers.

"As a class, we were proud of what we came up with," said Rassan Ridley, a sophomore textiles, apparel and merchandising major from Fort Wayne. "It was a good design, and a good representation of what we as students do here. It was a good team effort."

Wittenmyer approached the students about entering the contest, which was on top of their coursework for the semester. The sewing class students agreed to enter, and students each created separate designs for a wallet before coming together and creating a singular contest submission.

"It was fun. Everybody made an agreement together. There was no bickering or anything," said Jayna Eckerson, a freshman textiles, apparel and merchandising major from Indianapolis. "We just thought about what was good and how it satisfies the customer."

Natril Gear officials wanted to be able to utilize the scrap materials left from creating the company's trademark Luggers, which are "saddlebags for a bicycle" that attach to a bike rack.

"Part of the reason we wanted to have the contest was to find creative wallet designs, and the other reason was to spark interest in responsible consumption of resources in other peoples' lives," said April Reinhard, co-owner of Natril Gear. "The students in ISU's Clothing I class did a great job on both fronts!"

The group dynamic helped make the project unique, said Brooke Reed, a freshman family and consumer sciences major from Walkerton, Ind. Different aspects of multiple designs created by students were incorporated into the final design.

"Normally with some contests, you're just by yourself, and this one, it was actually a group thing and we all could get involved," Reed said, "and it was actually really nice to get other ideas and have more ideas flowing."

The students created a draft of their prototype, and then created their final version in material similar to Natril Gear's fabric in Luggers. They submitted the creation, along with the design specifications.

Since Natril Gear's Luggers are intended for cyclists, the Indiana State students approached the contest with the intention of creating a wallet that cyclists would use. Their submission included a variety of different elements, including a coin holder that separates from the wallet and a cell phone pocket.

"Their inclusion of a cell phone pocket was unique," Reinhard said. "They also incorporated a removable pouch for change that we thought was a smart idea!"

The students also created a component for someone's photo identification card to be on the outside of the wallet, so the wallet owner wouldn't have to fish it out.

"I'm very proud of the students and their willingness to work as a team to come up with one final design for an entry, and to win," Wittenmyer said. "I was impressed with the fact that they thought about so many things."

For several of the students in the class, it was the first time they had created a product and entered it in a contest. They were pleased with their finished prototype.

"I want to be a designer anyway, so that really encourages me to come up with a design, and I know that I can go to my teacher and have somebody (help) come up with the actual dimensions and the finished product," Ridley said. "It's a good foundation."

Natril Gear named two winners in their competition, which was intended to inspire a wallet design that Natril Gear will create from Lugger leftovers.

"... We were impressed with the Clothing I class's design," Reinhard said, "and they can certainly expect some features from their prototype to be represented in Natril Gear's final wallet design! "

For more information on Natril Gear, visit

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Indiana State University sophomore Rassan Ridley works at a sewing machine during her textiles, apparel and merchandising class. The students in the class designed a wallet that received runner-up honors in a contest sponsored by Natril Gear, a Fort Wayne-based company that creates backpack-like bags that can connect to bicycle racks.

Photo: (ISU/ Rachel Keyes)Indiana State University student Brooke Reed in the textiles, merchandising and apparel class that submitted a wallet design for the Natril Gear contest. The company plans on utilizing several elements from the Indiana State University students' submission into its own creation, which will be made from leftover materials from products the company currently creates. The contest was intended to encourage consuming resources responsibly.

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Indiana State University instructor Edie Wittenmyer works with Indiana State student Brittany Plummer, left. Wittenmyer proposed the idea of working on Natril Gear's wallet contest to her students, who were very receptive to the idea. They ultimately won runner-up in the contest.

Contact: Edie Wittenmyer, instructor, electronics and computer engineering technology and human resource development and performance technologies, (812) 237-3456 or; April Reinhard, owner, Natril Gear, (260) 454-5316 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or