Student Spotlight: UI freshmen create game day merchandise

MSG Tailgate is the newest clothing line to debut in Iowa City. Created by three UI freshmen, they try to appeal toward college students wanting to rep school spirit at campus events and games.


Photo of t-shirt made by Sophia Gluba and Grace Frommelt. Contributed.

Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

As Hillcrest Residence Hall roommates Sophia Gluba and Grace Frommelt packed up their dorm room belongings and headed home for winter break, they knew that the extended time away from school would bring them lots of freetime. After realizing that several downtown Iowa City shops only sold traditional game day apparel with family-friendly designs, they decided to compose their own style that catered to a more niche audience  — college-aged women.

The pair wanted T-shirts that resembled the college experience.

“A lot of my college game day merchandise was purchased from various online vendors,” Frommelt said. “However, there were certain designs that I wanted to be wearing, but you couldn’t find them in these shops. I knew I had to create them myself.”

Gluba and Frommelt approached friend and fellow UI freshman Marina Meyer, inviting her along to start their creative journey and business with them. Together, the idea of MSG Tailgate came to life. The brand name combines each of their first name initials, tagging on the word “tailgate,” to encourage buyers to wear their designs at tailgates before sporting events.

Frommelt serves as the team’s main graphic designer, while the other two co-founders brainstorm design ideas and color palettes. Frommelt uses photoshop and graphic design apps such as Canva on her iPad to create the designs. Using her Apple Pencil, she is able to sketch the designs she wants with intricate detail.

The process of transferring the design digitally to a physical medium can be time-consuming. Using a Cricut machine, the team prints out the designs onto the variety of tops they offer. After they connect their computers and upload the desired design, the machine cuts out an iron-in vinyl design smoothly onto the fabric.

“Figuring out how to transfer the designs onto the shirts was a huge struggle at first,” Gluba said. “But once we got the hang of it, we were able to expedite the process.”

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MSG Tailgate currently has seven unique designs offered for purchase. Customers can either order these designs on a white crewneck sweatshirt, a black T-shirt or a white cropped tank top. Some of these designs include “Dainty Iowa,” a cursive shimmering Iowa, “Hawkeyes” written in the official Bratz doll font and “Bleed Black and Gold” which fills the selected material.

The team spread the word about their business through their active social media pages, utilizing the advertising features on social media platforms. They added that word-of-mouth helped the business gain traction. The MSG Tailgate team also visited The Influence selfie museum to take promotional pictures to use as marketing photos.

“The staff was super nice and extremely helpful in assisting us to get the best photos possible,” Frommelt said. “We are appreciative of them helping us get the word out about our merchandise.”

All orders are placed through MSG Tailgate’s Instagram account, @msgtailgate. There, they also share updates about new products and ongoing sales. In the future, the trio said they hope to add matching sweat sets and expand their design collection.

“Once we are all able to get back inside Kinnick and Carver, we hope to see lots of people wearing our designs,” Frommelt said.