With all of the uncertainty clouding around us these days, we at InkSoft thought it would be nice to switch things up. No more focusing on the darkness — instead, we’ll aim a spotlight on the community events and initiatives that bring us joy.

In every time of turmoil, there are always instances of people banding together to affect change.

Whether they’re fundraising or boosting morale, volunteering or working on the frontlines, these are the heroes and the campaigns — local and far away — that deserve our attention.  So, what do you say we give it to them?

Without further ado, get ready for today’s “˜Spotlight On’ piece: #RacineStrong.

When business operations slowed down, one company’s creativity didn’t.

We Make T-Sirt is a screen and apparel printing company located in Racine, Wisconsin. Seven years into its business, the company and its fearless leader, Jon Friso, had no plans on slowing down. But then COVID-19 hit.

And, just like most every business in most every industry, We Make T-shirts felt the impact.

As Friso looked around at his community, he saw other local businesses forced to hit the brakes on their operations, too. He saw establishments that had no choice but to close their doors, to stop offering their consumers what they were looking for.

It was a dark sight — one that many of us have seen ourselves in these past couple of weeks. But Friso wasn’t just going to blink and look away.  

He was going to take action.

A virtual store to unite a community

“When I saw they were starting to shut down, I thought, let’s see if we can make something happen,” Friso said.

Online T-Shirt Fundraising Store Powered by InkSoft

That something turned out to be an online marketplace.

A virtual store that, exclaiming “Racine Strong” right at the top, is intended to bring a community disconnected by physical distancing together.

Each of the goods sold — and there are many — in the #RacineStrong store showcase the same messaging. “Racine Strong,” written and underlined in a bold font — and, in the “˜O’?

An animated image of the virus itself, with a line of red striking through it.

Whether you’re purchasing a t-shirt or a jacket, a trucker cap or a bumper sticker, the message is clear: you’re not just investing in a piece of clothing or a miscellaneous accessory.

You’re investing in your community.

And you’re showing that the strength that you have, together, is enough to overcome the effects of this pandemic.

How it works

Using InkSoft’s technology, Friso and his team were able to put together their custom store in no time. With their designs up and running, and displayed clearly for the community (and beyond) to see, the #RacineStrong campaign began.

The first thing Friso focused on was getting the word out. He promoted the store on social media and in the local news, spreading awareness to as many Racine residents as he could.

What he told them was simple.

The store would sell the merchandise, and half of all proceeds made would be put into a fund, managed by Real Racine (a local organization). For each purchase made, Real Racine would donate an additional $1 to the fund. 

The fund, a small business relief effort, would then be divvied up based on grant applications sent in by local businesses in need.

That means that, for each t-shirt or hat (or hoodie or jacket or bumper sticker) sold, money would be going to local businesses. Relief would be going to local businesses.

Helping out couldn’t have been made any easier. With just a few clicks and scrolls, community members young and old could support the businesses they love and miss.

But then Friso and his team turned their attention to those businesses.

When businesses buy in

As an apparel decorator, Friso and his team already had long-standing relationships with local companies. He reached out to those he knew — and those he didn’t — with a proposal.

Local businesses could start offering up vouchers for their goods and services, to be included with each purchase.

A free beer from Racine Brewing Company. A free 30-day pass to Burn Boot Camp Racine. A $500 cash donation to the relief fund by the Preemie Power of Wisconsin.

So, with each purchase, the purchaser would gain a whole list of vouchers — and incite more donations to the relief fund in the process.

For the participating businesses, their logos would be added to the backs of the merchandise, proudly lining up with other businesses who’ve also supported the campaign.

Going further

For some local businesses, they saw the space for creativity alloted by the virtual stores and decided giving a voucher wasn’t enough.

With the help of We Make T-Shirts, they set up their own stores.

Stores that sell custom branded apparel, promoting each business individually. Stores that allow each business’s customers to support them additionally through these uncertain times.

Just as with the #RacineStrong store, We Make T-Shirts gives 50% of all profits from these business-specific stores to the local business. The other half goes to We Make T-shirts — which is also, of course, a local business.

The wrap-up

Friso’s creative solution to a problem facing all of us has affected, and continues to affect, real change.

By utilizing InkSoft’s technology to design products, create digital stores, and effectively fundraise (using the built-in Fundraising feature), the whole We Make T-shirts team wasn’t just creating a new way to keep its operations moving.

It wasn’t just giving local businesses a leg up, a way to spread brand awareness and make some money, either.

It was actually providing an adhesive to a community that had been forced to physically distance. It was providing a way for everybody to take action, to show support, and to come together.

And, with more than $2,000 raised already, it’s safe to say Friso and his team are doing a heck of a good job.

If you have an idea of a way to help your community out, this is your sign: it’s time to take action! Do whatever you can to fight through this time together, because you’re always stronger when your community’s behind you. 

If there’s anything we at InkSoft can do to help your team out,  please don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can reach us at 800-410-3048.

We’re here for you. And we believe, at our core, that we all do better when we’re working together.

Stay safe,

The InkSoft team