Connecting Communities and Celebrating Black History Month with Custom Shirts
Since 1976, Black History Month has been observed in the United States during the month of February. Recognizing the ways Black Americans have shaped the country, it’s a time to celebrate important Black figures and educate oneself and others about their contributions.
Looking for a way to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, creating custom t-shirts seemed like the obvious fit at Custom Ink—and it wasn’t long before a team of store Inkers launched a fundraiser to involve others and give back to their communities. We took some time to speak about the fundraiser with Andrew Harker, the Stores Regional Manager in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
CI: How did you decide to do a fundraiser?
AH: This whole story really starts with our Inkers looking for ways to share our values and what we stand for within our local communities. The fundraiser idea came after thanks to Inkers and customers hearing about it and wanting to be a part of the amazing designs our teams and artists came up with. Like a lot of great ideas, this really came about because of conversations and sharing of ideas!
CI: What inspired you?
AH: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! I was at another retailer and saw the team there wearing shirts that supported a national cause awareness month. I immediately thought, ’Why aren’t we doing this?’ It would be such a win for our Inkers to show their support for causes we feel strongly about, and customers would see our values AND get ideas that would inspire them as well!
CI: What does it benefit?
AH: This fundraiser supports Advancement Project National Office, an organization Custom Ink has aligned with and supported company-wide. Their objective is to promote racial equity and build a foundation so that everyone may thrive, and I think that’s something Inkers connect with at a fundamental level.
CI: In what ways did the t-shirts help when organizing the cause? Did the t-shirts draw others to your cause?
AH: Going back to the beginning, again, this was a very collaborative and organic venture. From the original idea, Inkers came up with the idea for Stores team members within each region to create designs to celebrate Black History Month, and then the teams voted on the designs. From there, one shirt in each region was created for team members to wear in February. Somewhere along the way, the idea came up to create a fundraiser utilizing these designs, but since there were two designs used, would they have competing fundraisers? That didn’t feel right, and someone had the great idea to have our talented artists combine both designs into one and share that with other Inkers, our customers, and our families as a fundraiser. I think the combination of both designs to form this final product couldn’t be more appropriate for us in celebrating and promoting our diversity and belonging initiatives.
CI: Where did you get the design? What was the process of having our Design Services team merge the art like?
AH: The two designs were created by our very own Inkers Jay Holton and Tionna Cotman. Tionna’s design received some assistance from Design Services, and the final combined design was also created by Design Services. Our artists are so talented and make the process easy for us and our customers!
CI: What did your team think about having custom gear from this fundraiser?
AH: The team couldn’t be more excited about this. It’s been amazing for me to see so many people involved in creating designs (all of which were fantastic), helping to get this organized, and just running with it. There is nothing more exciting to me than seeing an engaged team and what they are capable of doing!
CI: What do you hope that this fundraiser can achieve?
AH: I hope this fundraiser and shirt design can start conversations and help us connect with the communities we’re in while raising funds for a noble cause. As a channel, I think it is vital for us to lead in Diversity and Inclusion and reflect the communities we’re a part of. We cannot succeed in our mission to become a trusted, sought-after partner within the community without building long-term relationships in the surrounding areas of our stores. This fundraiser is only a small part of us working towards that objective.
CI: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
AH: I would just like to thank again all the Inkers involved in this process. Our front-line team is truly the one who makes things happen within the organization. I really look forward to doing this again in the future to celebrate more national cause awareness months!
To learn more about the Celebrating Black History Month 2022 t-shirt fundraiser, read more here!