COVID-19 Stories: This Michigan Ross BBA’s Fashion Startup Provides Local Designers an International Stage While Also Giving Back to Their Community

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Staple Clothing— a company founded by Gregory Cervenak, BBA ’20, and Connor Flanigan, BSE ’22 and business minor — recently donated 250 face masks to Peru, a country with one of the highest COVID-19 death rates. 

For every mask purchased, one gets donated to Peru’s Ministry of Health. Masks are donated in increments of 100, arriving in Peru approximately one week from the purchase date. The ministry distributes them to the areas that are most in need, including health systems and underserved communities outside of Lima and Cusco that are being greatly affected by COVID-19. 

This is the mission of Staple Clothing in action. Every piece of clothing the company sells has a portion of its profits donated to a pressing cause in the origin region where the clothing was designed.

Gregory Cervenak, BBA ’20

Cervenak and Flanigan started Staple Clothing in May 2020, shortly after Cervenak graduated from the Ross School of Business. So far, the Ross alum and Ross business minor have hired  four U.S.-based interns and formed a partnership with a design team at Arte Meche in Lima.

Cervenak and Flanigan were inspired to start the company when they visited Peru. Once there, they spoke to local fashion designers who believed that the possibility of sharing their local designs to the rest of the world was nearly nonexistent and that people would not be interested in their work. 

They saw this as an opportunity to create Staple Clothing — a business focused on helping local designers share their work globally while also creating a positive impact for their local community. 

“The company aims to bring people together through clothing by empowering designers from countries around the world who might not have the resources or access to sell their clothing on a global scale,” said Flaningan. 

Connor Flanigan, BSE ’22

Cervenak and Flanigan’s favorite part in launching Staple Clothing has been hearing how excited their design partners at Arte Meche are about showcasing their work with the world. 

“There are many regions of the world where the fashion world has been overlooked, and working with a designer to share the ideas and creativity of their community while giving back in the process has been and will always be the reason we continue to work hard to bring the mission of Staple Clothing to the world,” Cervenak explained.

Michigan Ross has granted Cervenak and Flanigan access to what they describe as an unparalleled set of professors who have given them guidance on Staple Clothing’s mission and business model.

“Professor Mary Hinesly spoke with us at length about how to best find our ideal audience, showed us the art of communicating in a business context, and even helped us promote our brand,” Cervenak shared. “Professor Debjit Roy additionally spoke with us about how to best warehouse our goods and minimize logistics costs while maintaining a service level that will serve our customers well.” 

Next up, Staple Clothing is looking to connect with more design communities around the world that resonate with their mission and to use their resources at Ross and beyond to act as the support for their ideas and creativity. 

Learn more about Staple Clothing