The coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 50,000 lives in the U.S. and continues to shutter businesses across the country. But amid the crisis, creatives are rising to the challenge to help others in need.
Besides donating masks and spreading creative messages of social distancing, some agencies are designing and selling custom merchandise that have and raised tens of thousands of dollars to support businesses and Americans heavily affected by the crisis.
Dylan Hattem is founder and CEO of DS Projects, a digital agency he started when he left the ad tech world three years ago. In between doing work for clients like Adidas, Airbnb and Budweiser, Hattem has launched the COVID-19 Merch Initiative, a fundraiser that gives 100 percent of the proceeds from custom merchandise to local restaurants and restaurant groups across 20 U.S. states.
So far, sales are just shy of $90,000. “With the shared challenges felt across the board, togetherness and support has never been more important,” says Hattem.
Hattem began the effort in March by selling one comical T-shirt that read: “Bought this T-shirt and stayed the fuck home.” It sold online for $40 and Hattem promoted the work on LinkedIn and Instagram at its own account @buythistshirt. In six days, the shirt sale had raised $40,000. In three weeks, it raised $63,000.
Hattem than began to partner with favorite local eateries in cities across the U.S. like Hattie B's in Nashville, The Flower Shop in New York, Grant Central Market in Los Angeles and Broad Street Oyster Co. in Malibu to sell custom shirts with their logos on the back and the original statement on the front. There are now 18 different restaurant T-shirts on sale for $40 each at thist-shirt.com. Hattem is using small, independent manufacturers on the East Coast to produce the shirts.