Two floors down from where participants are dancing, UCLA alumna Lauren Grace is stationed outside the UCLA Textbook store selling this year’s Dance Marathon merchandise.
Her booth is filled with sweatshirts with the words “Carpe DM” written across the front and tank-tops with symbols that spell out “UCLA” across the back.
This is the first year Grace, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2011, designed shirts for the event.
She has worked at other on-campus events in the past. Her on-site custom apparel printing company, Tees On Demand, designed merchandise for the JazzReggae festival and the Hip Hop Congress Fashion show last year. Grace also designs clothing for some of the UCLA Greek system.
Grace began designing merchandise the spring of her senior year at UCLA, after walking by Tees On Demand in Los Angeles. Three days later, a large tsunami struck northern Japan. Grace decided to design and sell apparel to fundraise for the tsunami victims. The cause was particularly important to her because she was a Japanese Language and Culture student and because she was a member of the on-campus christian group InterVarsity.
Grace raised $5,000 for tsunami victims that year and continued working for Tees on Demand after she graduated. She bought the store in June 2012 with a partner and has continued working at UCLA events, she said.
“UCLA was the best years of my life,” Grace said. “The reason I chose to advertise and bring my business back here is because it’s so dynamic and every student is filled with so much possibility.”
Grace said she hopes to continue designing apparel for UCLA and she looks forward to working at the Hip Hop Congress Fashion Show later this month.
“When I walk around on campus I physically feel the energy,” she said.
Compiled by Amanda Schallert, Bruin contributor.