With the coronavirus pandemic forcing institutions to postpone college milestones, including graduation, many students will instead spend the remainder of their spring semester indoors on Zoom. Seniors Claire Monro and Claire Fisher decided to commemorate their last semester at USC through their clothing business Fight Online while giving thanks to the local businesses that helped make their experience on campus worthwhile.
The duo named their clothing line Fight Online to commemorate USC’s transition to online learning. The business initially started with a playful intent. After realizing a deserted campus also meant that many local businesses near USC, including Caveman Kitchen and El Huero, were losing sources of revenue from student customers, they decided to refocus their work to provide financial support for local businesses.
“We really hope to just provide support to these businesses and say that even though we’re not on campus, and we’re not actually patronizing your store in person, we’re still here for you and we still appreciate what you’re doing for us as students,” Monro said.
Monro and Fisher received increased support after emailing President Carol Folt to see what avenues they could explore with their idea. Folt put them in contact with David Wright, senior vice president of administration, whose duties include overseeing the USC Bookstore, and Wright helped the pair sell more shirts and receive more donations by advertising the product on the USC Bookstore website and expediting the licensure process for the business.
“I think they were able to double the amount of money that they could actually donate because they got to work in partnership with the bookstore,” Folt said. “It’s one of those things that people want to help each other. It’s just so touching to me that everybody that writes to me seems to want to help somebody else and so whenever I can help someone help someone else, I’m finding that’s something that I really want to do.”
Of the Fight Online duo, Fisher takes on the product design and development, using skills she accrued with her communication design minor. Monro handles the entrepreneurial side, working with mentors from the Marshall Career Advantage Mentor Program to help reach out to different offices on campus and to facilitate the growth of the business.
“We wanted it to be really simple and sleek and not obnoxious or anything,” Monro said. “We found different design templates on the Bonfire website, and Fisher was able to put something together to make it look clean and sharp.”
Monro and Fisher originally spent a few days designing the T-shirts before working through Bonfire, a site that facilitates custom shirts for fundraising.
The brand has sold nearly 600 shirts through the Bonfire website and the USC Bookstore and continues to grow its customer base through social media and USC newsletters of organizations including the Blackstone Launchpad. Awaiting purchase money from Bonfire, the pair has yet to distribute financial proceeds to local businesses, including El Huero and 3 Brother’s Bike Shop.
Monro said Fight Online is also currently creating a licensing agreement with the help of Wright and is considering donating to establishments depending on the number of students who visit.
“When we were thinking about who to donate to, we kept going back and forth thinking who really had an impact on our time at USC and it differed for every person we asked,” Monro said.
For Folt, initiatives like Fight Online show how students respond to crises: by helping those around them.
“What touched me about [Fight Online] was that recognition that our students are getting to know the local vendors,” Folt said. “They want to find a way to do something that I think is artistic and entrepreneurial.”