While mindlessly scrolling through Instagram stories in the midst of a bleak quarantine, Sports Editor Eunice Bae happened upon a piece of clothing that she instantly fell in love with.

I’d lost track of time– hour blended with hour, with each day becoming indistinguishable from the next.

I was once again procrastinating by scrolling through endless feeds on social media when a navy sweater caught my eye. But not just any navy sweater– this was a navy sweater with a very special message (no spoilers yet) unapologetically printed across the front, designed by none other than Kate Marsh (CC’23) and available for purchase on Bonfire, a custom clothing apparel site. Kate’s witty creativity made this a sweater that I simply had to have– it was such an incredible blend of blunt, self-deprecating humor and Lion Pride.

The best part? Proceeds benefit Food Bank NYC! Can’t get any better than that. I needed to know– how did she come up with such an idea? So I asked.

Q: How did you first come up with the idea to create this apparel?

A: I saw this phrase on a t-shirt for Yale, and I thought it applied even more to the sports culture here at Columbia. I find it funny how there is such a large percentage of Division I athletes here on campus and so few people attend athletic events. 


Q: Tell us briefly about the process of moving from the initial idea to actually getting the apparel onto Bonfire and making it available for purchase. Is there anyone you worked with along the way that you’d like to shoutout?

A: The process was pretty quick since it’s a very simple design. The website Bonfire functions similar to Custom Ink with an online design platform, except instead of paying for the shirts all at once and selling them in-person, the website sells to people individually and takes a portion of the profit for overhead costs. I would love to shout out Vielka Ebadan (CC’23) for initially giving me the idea, as well as JP Woodham (CC’23) and Michelle Xu (CC’23) for helping me choose the font style and size. 


Q: What drove you to select Food Bank NYC as the beneficiary of the proceeds?

A: I think food insecurity is a clear impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately, one that plagued some Columbia students even before coronavirus. On campus, I used to volunteer with the Food Pantry At Columbia, and I was interested in continuing that work in the best way I could from far away. I think Food Bank NYC has a very wide reach and lofty goals to help New York City during a time of rising unemployment and insecurity, and I’d love to help out an organization that can help both the Columbia and New York City combat the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19. 


Q: Why choose this message, of all the possible Columbia-related messages, to print on a shirt?

A: The message on the shirts is “I would prefer if Columbia wins because that is where I go to school.” Coming from New Orleans, I grew up with a big sports culture, and the sports culture at Columbia is hilariously indifferent. I also noticed a lack of athletic merch that non-athletes wear, so I thought this would be a perfectly Columbia-esque way to poke fun at our (lack of) sports culture and still support our teams. 


Q: Would you consider doing this again in the future as a fundraiser, perhaps once we’re back on campus?

A: I would love to do this as a fundraiser again! I initially sold these shirts just as a joke last December, but I’m donating the proceeds from those shirts to Food Banks NYC as well. I would love to see more Columbia merch on campus in general, and I’m sure more great causes will pop up again in the future. 


Q: Are there other ways in which students can help Food Bank NYC?

A: If you are interested in giving directly to Food Bank NYC, you can check out their website. If you are interested in giving to groups on campus, the Food Bank at Columbia is a great way to donate or get involved. For students still on campus or in the area, please reach out to the Food Bank at Columbia to see if you can help or if they can help you! Temporarily, they are locked inside JJ’s Place and open from 3-6pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

If you’re at all interested in purchasing a shirt (you have both a t-shirt and sweatshirt option), please check out Kate’s page on Bonfire! You’ll be supporting Food Bank NYC in this difficult time and embracing the reality of Columbia sports culture (all in good humor, of course).

Here’s a peek at the sweater version (ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL):

Hope you’re all staying safe and keeping your Lion Pride going from wherever you are.

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