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The UAF Arctic Innovation Competition (AIC) team recently caught up with Shalane Frost, AIC 2016 2nd Place winner and Fan Favorite award winner in the Main Division for her innovative idea, The NoseHat. It is a malleable nose and cheek cover for use during outdoor recreation in winter. It’s ergonomically designed to fit any face shape or nose size, while allowing unobstructed breathing during vigorous activities like Nordic skiing.

Shalane designed The NoseHat when she couldn’t find a product that met her own needs. While she was creating, prototyping, and testing her design primarily for use by skiers, she was surprised to find that there was a lot of interest in the idea from participants in other sports such as mushing and fat-biking. Now that she has been marketing and selling her finished product, The NoseHat has appeared in every major endurance race in Alaska and has customers from all over the world.

The most important thing Shalane learned about product development was not to launch with a pre-defined notion of who your customer is and how they are going to use your product. She also learned how much people liked customizations. She initially assumed she would be able to make a “one-size-fits-all” product, but she soon learned that she would need to make multiple sizes, in addition to allowing people to pick their favorite colors. The customer favorite seems to be the “cheetah” design!

Shalane’s best advice to future competitors is to have a prototype! “Even if it’s not what you intend to sell or it doesn’t work or it’s not quite right – have something the judges can feel in their hands. The idea makes good sense in your own head, but in order to have it solidify in others’ they need to be able to touch your product.”

Check out this video of our interview with Shalane and see the NoseHat in action!