Courtesy of The Flying Monk Clothing
Is it a bird? A plane? No! It’s The Flying Monk, and it’s sure to soon be soaring to a doorstep near you.
The Flying Monk Clothing, a clothing brand founded and managed by Ohio State students, is set to release its fall/winter collection Tuesday. The owners hope the collection will be The Flying Monk’s first step from T-shirt company to full-fledged fashion brand and spark interest in OSU students with a campus-area delivery service.
“(Making T-shirts) is such an over-saturated market and anyone can do that,” said Austin Pence, a third-year in marketing and co-owner of The Flying Monk. “We’re really pushing away from that. We don’t want to be just a T-shirt company. We’re a clothing company.”
The Flying Monk features a same-day, hand-delivery service for all orders in the OSU campus area.
“This delivery service is really going to put a face to The Flying Monk,” Pence said. “We just want to build a relationship with Ohio State kids because we’re at the best university in the world, and we love it here.”
In addition to success with its OSU following, The Flying Monk has shipped orders across the country everywhere from New York to California.
“Most all of our online orders are from another state,” Pence said. “It’s really great that The Flying Monk is catching on with people other than our target audience, Ohio State students. It shows we must be doing something right.”
Wendy Goldstein, owner of Costume Specialists Inc. and OSU alumna, said The Flying Monk’s delivery service could help it stand out from other T-shirt makers.
“A lot of these T-shirt companies spring up because almost anyone can produce them,” Goldstein said. “To do so, you need to have direct exposure to your market, which is hard to do online. It’s really important to find your market and cater toward them.”
While Pence was the primary designer for previous lines of The Flying Monk apparel, the brand’s new line is slated to showcase the work of photographer Jobey Manahan, a third-year in biology. The line will also feature a wider variety of apparel styles, such as henleys, hooded sweatshirts and raglans, which are more commonly know as baseball T-shirts.
The idea to start a clothing line came to Pence in 2011 while completing a summer business internship. The internship required Pence and his coworkers to start their own student-run business, a house-painting company, which eventually led to the beginning of The Flying Monk Clothing.
“The entire time we were just kind of thinking, we called it ‘the painter’s mind’ because you’re just sitting and painting this wall for hours so you just think about whatever,” Pence said. “We started to think about the way we could facilitate a business doing what we love. Clothing was something that really interests us, so it really just evolved from there.”
After returning to Columbus from his internship, Pence enlisted friend and roommate Segun Osinusi, a third-year in psychology, as co-owner, The Flying Monk was born.
With a team of six, The Flying Monk’s business and creative sides are still run entirely by students, but the designs are sent to outside printing companies to manufacture.
Pence and Osinusi used to print the T-shirts from their own home, which proved to be both time-consuming and impractical for the full-time students.
“At first we were like, ‘Yeah, we can handle all this ourselves,’ but we’re students, we’re working,” Osinusi said. “Just to have manufacturers now, to have someone making the shirts for us, takes so much stress off of our shoulders.”
As OSU students, the creative minds behind The Flying Monk try to keep up with the emerging trends worn by their peers. While the brand doesn’t want to name its target audience as “hipsters,” Osinusi said its clothes are aimed at people who care about what they wear, people like those in charge of the brand.
“Basically, it’s for us,” Osinusi said. “We’re hoping that there are a lot of other people out there whose views align with what our views are so they recognize us and they say, ‘Yeah, we want that.'”
The Flying Monk’s name stems from a mutual interest in the life and art of Renaissance monks, a topic Pence and Osinusi have studied at OSU in the past.
“The monks during the Renaissance focused on loving the simplicity of life, but still implementing parts of a higher ordinance,” Osinusi said. “It’s kind of like that blend of simplicity yet something more that caught our attention.”
Pence and Osinusi use social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and take advantage of moments to talk to others about their brand.
“If you were to find us out on a Friday or Saturday night at parties, our pockets are filled with business cards and we’re talking to people about it and just wheeling and dealing,” Pence said. “We know that people are going to be excited about it. We want everybody to recognize what it is, the names and the symbols.”
As for the future, Pence and Osinusi plan to continue getting their name out by traveling the concert and music festival circuit, gaining attention to one day compete with the industry’s top brands.
“I don’t have any aspirations to do anything else other than The Flying Monk,” Pence said. “I take all of my classes very seriously, but I know that this is, ultimately, what I want to do and that we can really make these dreams a reality.”
When times are rough and schedules are busy, Pence said that seeing OSU students wearing The Flying Monk’s designs drive him to keep working toward his goals.
“It’s pretty wild,” Pence said. “There’s nothing better than seeing someone that you don’t know wearing a design that you made. It’s wild, that’s the only way that I could explain it.”
The Flying Monk’s fall/winter collection, which includes unisex pieces ranging from $24.99 to $64.99, is available through the company’s website.