IU students need your help to bring Ghana to Indy

Men in the Midwest often get short-changed when it comes to unique clothing options. Fred Schwier and Max Mulvihill are IU students and owners of FLC International, and they are offering a solution: FLC International is a men’s clothing company providing a creative option for the male closet. On their website, it states:

“FLC international makes bold clothes for bold men. Our flagship product “the Jorge” short is handmade from premium fabrics with exotic prints found only in the Gold Coast region of West Africa. The shorts are named after our friend Jorge Odoi, who seizes every opportunity to live. FLC international is a reflection of this attitude”.

The idea for the clothing label was born when Mulvihill traveled to Ghana. He found some local Ghana fabric and had a pair of shorts made by a local tailor, as a souvenir of his travel. When he returned to the States and met his Bloomington neighbor, Schwier, the partnership was born.

What makes FLC International shorts unique is the use of Ghana textiles. Traditionally textiles of African origin are best described as an explosion of color, pattern, energy, and life. The “Jorge” short was named after Mulvihill’s tour guide in Ghana, Jorge Odoi. Odoi later helped Mulvihill and Schwier produce their first Ghana short sample. Keeping true to the authenticity of the brand, each item is hand made in Ghana by a local tailor. Currently a tailor named Saddiq sews each limited edition FLC International garment. The shorts are a one of a kind option for the adventurous man.

Schwier and Mulvihill described the “Jorge” short as, “a fitted tailored short that hits above the knee”. Schwier and Mulvihill don’t have a fashion design background, but they know what the creative, adventurous guys like. The company started with the “Jorge” short, but the line is expanding to include pants, blazers, and button down shirts. Schwier and Mulvihill describe the new pieces as, “traditional, with accents of Ghana fabric. For example, a traditional navy blazer that when opened, the inside will be lined with this bright patterned Ghana fabric. The items won’t be completely covered in pattern. We will add detail that goes with the ‘world traveled’ feel. Personalization is a huge point. Each item is numbered, signed, and personalized.” Sounds like the collection will be a perfect option for guys who have read my Milan Fashion Week review for next spring.

Meantime, the current “Jorge” short is a great warm weather option. I would recommend pairing the short with a white button down and a bowtie for an afternoon lunch. The fashionable man could also pair the patterned short with a basic V neck cotton shirt and layer with a solid color blazer. For the average guy to pull off these shorts, keep the top basic and simple to show off the traditional Ghana pattern of the short.

As the demand for FLC International products continues to grow, the partners need funding to expand operations and they might have just found a way to work around the funding challenge. They have partnered with a fairly young online company called Kickstarter.com. It uses a unique concept to have the average person donate to people who are acting on their passions. NPR said about Kickstarter.com:

We all know that dreaming is free, but converting fantasies into reality can be pretty expensive and that’s where a new website, Kickstarter.com can help.

I have never really checked out Kickstarter.com, but I have heard about it from different news websites. Kickstarter.com references itself as, “The largest funding platform for music, film, art, technology, design, food, and publishing”. Kickstarter.com is not a way to look for traditional investment opportunities in a company. Instead each project must offer something to the donor in return for their contribution to the companies they are donating too. For example, FLC International offers for a donation of $25 a personal thank-you and a Ghana fabric swatch. A donation of $500 will grant the donor a FLC International Blazer embroidered with the initials of the donor. The way Kickstarter.com works is that each project must reach its funding goal, before their selected time runs out, to receive the donors’ money.

FLC International needs to raise $7000 USD by August 11th to fund their proposed project on Kickstart.com. If they get the funding, it will be used for 2 purposes. One portion of the funding will go to creating their expanded line. The other, to purchase equipment for Siddiq and other tailors they work with in Ghana, specifically at least one double-stitch machine.

If the guys from Bloomington don’t reach their $7000 funding goal by August 11th, no funding will be granted. Don’t worry perspective donors, the company will only charge the donor, if the project reaches its funding goal. Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Kickstarter.com, mentioned in a CBS.com interview that, “… in the past 2 years 24000 projects have been funded with a 44% success rate in project funding ”.

Schwier and Mulvihill are sure to be responsible with their funding. They want to continue building relationships with the local people of Ghana; any money raised above their $7000 funding goal will go to refurbishing local Ghana schools. (It costs $4000 to $5000 to fully refurbish a school with plumbing and concrete floors.)

It is excited to highlight the work of two Indiana-based college students pursuing their passion and ideas on a global scale. Schwier said, “If you’re going to do something you gotta go out and do it. You have to go out and make connections. We had to travel to Ghana to make connections, couldn’t just do it all over the phone”. Schwier and Mulvihill both have a passion to highlight the talent of the people living in Ghana. Mulvihill said, “People in Ghana are some of the happiest people I have met. We are passionate about hiring them, so that in turn they can build their community in a small way”.

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