Patched, a fashion brand created by eight business majors, aims to tag allies for mental health awareness and start a dialogue on campus. Credit: Courtesy of David Carlton

A fourth-grade University of Tennessee fan was bullied after he taped a piece of paper with a pencil-drawn logo on an orange shirt and wore it to his elementary school. After hearing his story, Tennessee added his design to the school’s official merchandise.

The student’s story inspired many across the nation, prompting the creation of Patched at Ohio State, Nicole Mazullo, a third-year in finance and group member, said.

Patched is a student-developed brand focused on ending the stigma and starting a dialogue about mental health through selling products and hosting events promoting awareness, David Carlton, a third-year in economics and member of the group, said.

“We want to emphasize that everybody’s going through something at the same time,” Carlton said. “It’s never going to be the same between us, but nonetheless we are going through something at the same time. Nothing or no one is ever broken — it just needs a patch.”

Patched merchandise includes clothing pieces and stickers with the Patched logo — a hashtag made out of dashed lines. Carlton said the organization wanted the logo to stand as a symbol for those are allies of mental health.

Carlton said all of the product sales’ proceeds go toward the Patched foundation, which funds the organization’s events, and partnership with Mental Health Matters, an organization on campus that focuses on erasing the stigma around mental health issues at Ohio State. 

“Our idea behind wanting to partner with them specifically was to keep all of the funds that we were able to raise outside of our own efforts in house and to be able to see the effect of what we’re able to raise firsthand,” Carlton said. “There’s nothing going outside of Patched or Mental Health Matters; it’s staying completely Ohio State,” Carlton said.

Ali Tomsho, a third-year in information systems and founding member of Patched, said Patched is a way for allies of mental health awareness to come together to make a difference.

Carlton said the organization got its start through the Fisher College of Business’ Business Administration Honors Cohort program, an MBA-like experience offered to third- and fourth-year business majors. The group is composed of eight members.

Carlton said the group started conducting surveys among students in August 2019 to determine the best way to make an impact, and they found that mental health was a prominent issue on campus.

The group took a business trip to Chicago in October, when they visited companies and launched their website, conducted social media campaigns and put their first products up for sale, Carlton said.

The products are manufactured in bulk, but the logo is hand-embroidered by Ann Windle — a Columbus entrepreneur partnering with the organization — and is made out of recycled denim, Mazullo said.

“Each patch comes from a different pair of jeans, so each patch is unique to the article of clothing,” Mazullo said. “This is also symbolic of the fact that everyone’s ‘patch’ is inherently different.”

The group is planning a mental health-oriented fashion show as the semester’s culminating event, Carlton said. The exhibit is March 1 at TRISM.

Although the project is only set to continue until April 2, Mazullo said the group hope to continue through Mental Health Matters.

“Our mission, values and vision align beautifully with MHM’s, and our partnership will produce great results for team members, those we serve and our local Ohio State community,” Mazullo said. “I have my own patch, as does everyone, and through this organization, I hope to help others recognize their own patch.”

Correction: A previous headline and version of this story said that Patched was an alumni-developed group. It has since been corrected to reflect that it is a student-developed organization.