A few days ago I had a chance to speak with Elizabeth Nuesser CEO of Fight Chix Apparel. She is a local Chicago company and has expanded all over the world. I asked her about Fight Chix and what has become of the company and what it holds in the future of MMA.
How did this idea of Fight Chix clothing line come into existence and what highs and lows have happened along the way?
Fight Chix came about for a few reasons. 6 years ago when I met my husband Jake, I didn't know what MMA was. He is an avid fight junkie and has been in martial arts his whole life and at the time was training and coaching. I got educated on the sport and discovered what the athletes go through, both male and female. As a fan I was upset that there was nothing for female fans. It felt like most of the female items were just male designs on a girls shirt...all blood and skulls and I wanted something cute and sexy. So late one night (after drinking an XXL can of Monster energy drink)-lol. I had woken up Jake from a horrible night at my job at the time when I was bartending and I couldn't sleep so we started watching old rerun fights on Spike TV of UFC fights. I watched as each fighter walked out what their walkout shirts looked like and said on them as my mind started racing with ideas. I said to Jake why is it the same designs over an over, why isn't there a line geared towards just female fans? That lead to this conversation, and he told me to come up with my own clothing line---we went back and forth and I came up with the name Fight Chix that night. The next day he did a logo and soon after a website. As far as highs and lows, there is always the hard work, the sacrifices we have made to be where we are now and continuing to push through obstacles and deals falling through or something like that, that can be a lows. The highs by far out weigh out the lows. I think the fact that we have so many women that look at our brand as a source of confidence and empowerment is the ultimate high. If I am having a bad day or something happens behinds the scenes some days when you feel like how does this happen..I'll get a text or a message or a post on my sites that say what Fight Chix means to them and how great they fell wearing our gear, and then I smile and it fuels me to know that I am making a difference even if it's just for one person that day! Fight Chix has transcended just MMA and has become a lifestyle brand. We have supported female fighters and male fighters, troops over seas, women who have over come domestic abuse, breast cancer, the list goes on and on. Our brand is for the next future women of the world--and those women will wear Fight Chix and know they are confident, sexy, and strong!
Did the positive feedback overcome the negative feedback when you first started up the company?
We really didn't get a lot of negative feedback. I think the only negative feedback I got which I have NEVER actually talked about until this interview and might be ready to say out loud finally is when I met Tim Sylvia when I first started Fight Chix we were brand new and I met him at an IFL fight here in Chicago. I was walking to the bathroom and he stopped me with his foot and said "So what's with the Fight Chix brand?" My reply was Fight Chix is a clothing line for female fans and fighters of the sport of MMA that I have started. He then says to me "Why would you start a clothing line for women, when this isn't a woman's sport!" As all his friends laughed around him when he said it--I looked at him and said "Who supports you Tim?" I said your Mother, your Aunts, your Grandmothers, your Sisters? Because without them you wouldn't be here now would you! I walked away just livid, totally in Awe that my first encounter with a well-known fighter (at the time) would talk to me that way and be so arrogant! From that point on I knew that I would NEVER give up in what I believed in and what I was going to do! Prove every person wrong that thinks this way and thinks this sport isn't for women! I grew up with 6 brothers and I am the only girl. I think that upbringing led me to handle working well in a male dominated industry. The female fans and fighters appreciate what we do and I believe we bring a level of design that isn't common in MMA clothing lines.
What female fighters have endorsed your gear and what have they said about your merchandise?
We just recently sponsored Roxanne Modafferi in her win over Tara LaRosa. It was a huge win for her because she lost to Tara in the past and Tara hadn't lost in something like 7 years! Roxanne has told us she loves the gear! We just launched our female fight shorts, cut specifically for women, and we are getting a great response from those. We are also launching our Gi. Some of the fighters we have supported/sponsored include Zoila Frausto, Michelle Waterson, Kelly Kobold, Miesha Tate, Amanda Lucus, Kim Rose, Kristen Molina, Abby Bork, Marisol Romero, Fabricio Werdum, Ashley Cummins, Amanda Wilcoxen, Marisol Romero, Anthony Gomez, Jeff Curran, and Takayo Hashi. She is apart of a whole team of girls with her in Japan actually called "Team Fight Chix" including also Yoko Takahashi and Megumi Yabushita!
You and your husband run the company how is your company ran differently from say a corporate company?
We are a corporate company! Haha! It seems like we never stop working, but that is because we have so much passion for what we are doing and don't want to let down the people and fighters that support us. We have positioned ourselves as a dominate force for women in the MMA industry and we are constantly referred to as the female version of "TapouT" for women. The guys at TapouT and Charles "Mask" especially have been such an inspiration. When I first watched a video interview of Mask wayyy back in the day I was SO touched and got goose bumps every time he spoke. So I guess the main difference is our personal connection to the consumer and how we may make some decisions that aren't made with the bottom line in mind, but rather who we are helping.
What are your plans for the future of FightChix and to keep pushing female fighting into the MMA world?
We have just expanded to some new markets in both Finland and South Africa which both accounts we just closed exclusivity deals with, so as MMA grows so will Fight Chix. We are a lifestyle brand that empowers women and provides confidence, so you don't have to be a fighter in the ring or cage to be a Fight Chix and wear are gear. We all fight for something everyday and that's why Fight Chix stay alive. All of us go through struggles in life, Fight Chix is a source of strength and unity for women to reach their potential and goals.
For more information on Fight Chix check out the links below: