On October 7, 2011, life as we knew it completely changed. We left our lives in New Orleans and headed to MD Anderson in Houston. There, Jonathan was given a stage 4 diagnosis of a rare form of testicular cancer referred to as extragonadal germ cell tumor. We knew nothing about the world we were entering and were devastated by what we were learning. He was to have 3 day inpatient treatment starting immediately. As the nurse handed him the hospital gown, he looked up and said, “I’m not wearing that.” Having just left everything we had in New Orleans—our homes, our business, our life, our normalcy—the thought of now losing his right to wear his own clothes was too much.
The nurse explained why they preferred the gown and the benefits it offered to the patient and the staff. Jonathan agreed to wear it, but he knew he had to create a better option. He quickly sketched a design that would address the needs and benefits of the gown but would allow him to look and feel like himself, normal. Within a few weeks, we had several shirts made, and his gown wearing days were over. Some sense of normalcy was restored!
Typically a cancer patient will have some type of port or catheter placed for receiving chemotherapy, but given the severity of his condition, there was no time for anything but an IV, initially. For the first 6 months of treatment, unsure and scared of all of the changes happening to him, Jonathan opted to continue with only IVs. During this time, we were able to pinpoint things about the shirt that worked, things we wanted to change, and design shirts that addressed different needs he would face in the future.
The response from doctors and nurses was overwhelming. They not only loved what it provided for the patient, but it made their jobs easier as well. It was evident the difference the shirts made to Jonathan’s confidence and comfort, and he knew that we had to share this with others. Jonathan passed away while fighting on March 27, 2013. As his wife, he left me with one responsibility…share the shirts and help others suffering from this disease and so many others. Two years later, I am honoring my husband’s wishes and I’m overjoyed to share FIYA with you today.
FIYA™ is not just a brand with a purpose; FIYA is a purpose with a brand. FIYA isn’t about being sick or having a debilitating disease; It's about hope, encouragement and support. FIYA is for everyone—those fighting publicly, privately, in a hospital or at home. We don’t need a common disease or common problem to unite us; we need only the will to fight.
The Fighter Tee™ is a modern, custom fit shirt that allows people to easily put on and remove their clothing while connected to an IV or other similar catheters. The shirt also works great for those who have trouble getting dressed on their own. This shirt was designed to fit you like your favorite t-shirt, and without a close inspection, it would be hard to tell you're whether anything other than a normal tee.
—Fit. Jonathan’s first shirts were modified from existing t-shirts, and this worked well at the time but the fit was never right. These Fighter Tees were designed for you. No modifications of existing shirts, no corners cut. These shirts were designed from scratch to fit you perfectly, just like any other shirt you might have hanging in your closet.
Right now, we are offering two styles:
- Unisex crew neck – this fit mimics your basic t-shirt. It will be available in 3 colors
- Tailored women’s v-neck – this fit has a slimmer cut with scooped hemline in the front and back for extra coverage and comfort. It will be available in 2 colors.
—Fabric. Choosing the fabric was almost as important as the shirt design. Having had prototypes made during Jonathan’s fight, we had a good idea of what fabrics worked and which ones did not. Comfort was absolutely key to this vision, and after lots of research and fabric swatches from all over the world, the blend of Bamboo (70%) and Cotton (30%) far surpassed everything. It’s so soft that you’ll never want to take it off!!
Aside from feeling amazing, Bamboo has many great natural qualities that make it even better, such as:
- natural moisture wicking properties—cools and warms according to your body temperature
- antibacterial properties—discourages the growth and formation of bacteria
- feels like silk without actually being silk…did we mention it’s ridiculously soft?!
—Snaps. This is definitely one area that experience comes in handy. We knew that using the right snap tape could make or break the shirt. If the tape is too thick, it will feel bulky; if the snaps are metal, they will interfere with imaging machinery. This soft, lightweight, polyester tape with plastic snaps is the perfect answer to these problems. Once you’re snapped in, it will be hard to remember they’re even there!
—Words of Encouragement. We will be offering 5 encouraging words that can be printed on all Fighter Tees. To Jonathan, the hospital gown labeled him ‘sick’, so on his original shirts, he wanted to choose his label with words like Strength, Courage, and Healed. He wanted to be able to look in the mirror and have those words reflected back at him to remind of who he was and what he was believing for, and he wanted everyone who saw him to see those same things.
For the Fighter Tees, you will be able choose between these five words listed above. A survey will be sent once we are funded where you will be able to select which word you would like.
—Production. Majority of proceeds will be going to manufacturing the first production of both the unisex and women’s Fighter Tee.
—Marketing. This is a pricey one and an absolute necessity. We need to get our website up and running and advertising pieces ready.
—Legal. To take care of remaining legal fees for protecting the brand and what we offer.
—Expansion. This is where FIYA starts…this is not where FIYA ends. We have BIG dreams for this company and we want to get started right away! Here’s a peek at our vision board:
- Port accessible shirt –already in design/prototype stage
- Children’s line for all Fighter Tees
- Active wear line
- Lounge wear line
FIYA™ is an L3C, a low-profit LLC with non-profit values. This is also known as social entrepreneurship, which means that our top priority is to help others through our business. In order to do that, we need resources, and we prefer to not solely rely on donations but rather support the cause through selling our FIYA apparel. With every purchase you make from FIYA, a portion of the profits will go to patient benefiting charities and to manufacture Fighter Tees that will be donated to those in need. So any purchase you make from FIYA, from Fighter Tees to standard apparel, you are helping to spread hope and normalcy to those currently in battle at home and in the hospital.
In March of this year, I took an important step for me personally. I returned to MD Anderson for first time since February 2013 and delivered the first FIYA Fighter Tee to a stem cell patient. With your help, I plan to put more of these shirts on the backs of hospital patients throughout the US and beyond. So you don't need to know someone directly who needs a Fighter Tee to become a FIYA starter. We'd be happy to donate shirts on your behalf to deserving patients everywhere.
Risks and challenges
Some of the risks and challenges that we face are production delays due to scheduling, material availability, and shipping delays. Most of the ground work has been done is all these areas, however, some things are just out of our control.
FIYA is a startup company and we will definitely face challenges that any normal business would. We promise to do our best to respond to questions, emails, posts, etc. as quickly as possible.
We like to view challenges as opportunities, and we can assure you that no matter what issues we do face, rectifying the situation will be our top priority!! We promise to keep our backers as informed as possible along the way. You're part of our story now, and we want to be open and honest about this journey as we move forward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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