Kyle Fardelmann recalls sitting in his class in the Rutgers Business School in 2012, speculating whether he should call the University’s Office of Trademark Licensing about a potential idea. Little did he realize that his idea could prove worthwhile for many lives.
Fardelmann, a Rutgers graduate, observed in his first year at Rutgers that PepsiCo Inc. supplied t-shirts for the annual Blackout game on campus. In the fall of 2012, Fardelmann, former chair of the Delta Phi fraternity, wanted to add innovation to the t-shirt design.
After presenting the idea of doing a Blackout t-shirt fundraiser to his fraternity brothers, Fardelmann approached Jeremy Davis, director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at the Rutgers Athletic Department.
“Jeremy Davis of the Athletic Department loved the idea.” Fardelmann said. “He went to the extent of getting it approved by the department.”
Fardelmann said he wanted to incorporate creative slogans and design the Rutgers logo on the t-shirts. After receiving licensing rights from the Office of Trademark Licensing, he approached a fellow student to design the t-shirts.
The Phi Sigma Sigma sorority collaborated with Delta Phi on the fundraiser, which took place in fall 2012, he said. The effort was also well received and supported by greek life.
“Phi Sigma Sigma partnered to make it successful,” he said. “Greek life, in general, backed us this year and obviously the student body. Greek life gets it out for us.”
Eric Stiles, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, co-chaired the fundraiser. He said the profits from fall 2012 approximated around $16,000 and those for fall 2013 were $37,000.
“The main idea was just to make an impact during this time that we have in college,” Stiles said. “We had an idea we put into action to help out organizations that could use the funding.”
Profits from the fundraiser went to Big Brother Big Sisters, a not-for-profit organization that aids children’s growth and development through one-on-one relationships with mentors, Fardelmann said.
“The organization that we support works with underprivileged kids, who could use more guidance from volunteer mentors,” he said. “It was really cool to see the impact of the money.”
Jonathan Kijne, former president of Delta Phi, said the process of the fundraiser involved tabling across different places on all five campuses. The fundraiser not only helped raise a sizeable amount of money but also helped raise awareness about the fraternity.
Last fall, the fraternity was approved to sell t-shirts through the stadium, Kijne said. This led to sales worth $50,000.
“I’m still happy to see it on campus,” he said. “Students are happy to wear it even today. It’s a good feeling.”
Fardelmann said the fundraiser received incredible student response both years.
“It brought a huge rise in awareness about the fraternity,” Fardelmann said. “Now people know it’s a legitimate project, and we’re known for this big event.”
He said the biggest challenge was convincing the Rutgers Athletic Department, but their immense support made the fundraiser a big hit.
In 2012, the slogan for the t-shirts was “Even the most chivalrous can have a dark side,” Fardelmann said. The brothers tried to incorporate the huge icons at Rutgers into the designing.
Stiles said last fall, when Rutgers played Arkansas, Fardelmann approached a family friend to design the t-shirt. The slogan on the t-shirt read, “Roast on the Raritan.”
“We chose that slogan “Roast on the Raritan” because Arkansas’ mascot was a pig and the pig roast is a common thing,” Stiles said.
The brothers also mailed the shirts across the country, which shows that Rutgers also has fans all over the nation, Fardelmann said.
The fundraiser also plans to take place this year, Fardelmann said. The fraternity plans to come up with a new design to encourage sales.
The tabling begins three to four weeks before the Blackout game, he said.
“If we have something unique, people are going to be coming back,” Fardelmann said. “The whole point is to get people excited for the game. If we can make that happen that’s the real accomplishment.”