Get to Know Pamela Bell: The Woman Designing "Prink" Tees for Freedom of Speech and Charity
When Pamela Bell saw her teenage daughters wearing graphic tees of exotic places to where they had never traveled, she had a brilliant thought. If people wear printed graphics on their shirts because it is trendy, why not make it something that actually matters? Something that makes consumers human-billboards, advertising the issues about which they are truly passionate?
"Thus came, the 'printed ink' or prinkshop idea of 'wearing what you care about,'" Bell stated.
In 2013, Bell started the company, which combines humanity, art, and graphic design. It's "a cause-centric community that creates advocacy graphics for our most pressing social issues and then translates them into products that allow customers to wear what they care about."
Check out her exclusive Q&A with MAKERS below to learn more about what sparked the original idea, what organizations her products benefit, and what causes she hopes to support in the future.
Q. How did you come up with the original idea for prinkshop, a company that combines "humanity, art and graphic design"?
A. My teenage daughters were wearing graphic tees with exotic vacation spots printed [of] places they had never been. I thought it such a waste of money and ad space. Thus came the "printed ink" or prinkshop idea of "wearing what you care about."
Q. At what point did you know this was something you were going to do?
A. My inspiration came from a need in society. I was working with several not-for-profit organizations and each time the topic of money came up, they were trained to ask from others. I thought there must be a new way to earn the money from product sales and stop the money cup collection model.
Q. How can your products help change current and/or spark necessary conversation on both political and social issues?
A. All our advocacy campaigns are intended to create a conversation, raise awareness, and raise funds. We feel our products are armbands for the cause — metaphorically speaking... we have not made armbands... yet — a piece of armour on your chest to express your political or social view. For example, our 1973 shirt marks the year Roe v. Wade was overturned. Walk by another wearing that on the street and you instantly both know you are pro-choice. You are saying something about your political and personal position with a great fitting t-shirt. You become the superhero fighting for your cause. Empowerment, in one word.
Q. What are some of the products/campaigns prinkshop has created?
A. We have designed hundred of campaigns, including 1973, The PERSONAL IS POLITICAL, Eroticize Equality, MIND YOUR MEDS, MON CHERRY, Dear Mrs. President, 77/100.
Q. Which product/campaign was your personal favorite?
A. I have two favorites. Dear Mrs. President (which we will re-launch shortly) this one slays me. The word play, the reference, the design. I think we just nailed this one and we were very proud to raise funds for Hillary [Clinton], however, the design is about a dream, an ideology. A woman president. we want this next go round! 77/100 is my tie for number one. The wage gap between men and women is so clearly, blatantly illustrated here with a bold graphic and a tight and shocking message.
Q. Your most recent launch was the Period. unisex affirmation tee, what is the story behind this shirt?
A. The Zana Africa team was introduced to me through a random connection. I had no idea about the rate of school girls in Africa dropping out of for lack of menstrual care products and was so impressed with Zana and the work they do that we hatched a plan. We study the issue at length, then we start the design process. Period. was created in the first round.
Q. All of your products benefit a certain group or organization, where do 30 percent of the proceeds for the Period. tee go?
A. A portion of the proceeds for the Period. tees go to the Zana Africa Foundation, which supports adolescent girls in Kenya to stay in school by delivering reproductive health education and sanitary pads.
Q. What can we look forward to for prinkshop's next big launch?
A. We have several in the cue. Gun Control is one issue for which i am passionate. The homelessness crisis is also very much on my mind and in our model for change.
Q. If you could choose any modern issue to create a product for (that you have not yet done), what issue would you choose?
A. Mental health and abuse recovery for women and men. I am looking for an organization where women and men are both helped to break the cycle of abuse. It is my belief we do not pay enough attention to the mental wellness of men in this world. Many men are Feminists, let's celebrate them and make them role models for those who have not quite found their way.
Q. How do you define feminism?
A. Feminism, in our home, is defined by how we live.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Prinkshop