Pamela Bell, Founder of Prinkshop

December 14, 2018

Videography by Mehmet S. Yildirim

Fashion insider and quintessential cool girl Pamela Bell is using her talent for design and merchandising at her company Prinkshop to speak out about the most important issues facing our society today.
Prinkshop creates advocacy campaigns for these issues, all via t-shirts, totes, notebooks and stickers. In other words, you can be a (chic) billboard for what you believe in, while raising awareness and funds for important causes.

What is Prinkshop? Prinkshop makes t-shirts, totes and stickers that stand for something.  For each item sold, a donation is made to an organization that is helping a particular cause.  So the Ban(g) Ban(g) Ban(g) design benefits Everytown for Gun Safety and the 1973 tee and tote raise funds for the National Institute for Reproductive Health.  Why? Because when you wear a Prinkshop design, someone might come up to you and ask you what that means, giving you a chance to discuss the issue. Pamela calls this “activist fashion” or “Wear What You Care About.”

Who is Pamela Bell? Pamela was one of the original partners at Kate Spade, and when the company was sold, she had a long non-compete agreement. Not one to sit around doing nothing, Pamela started volunteering at not for profits. She had been designing and selling her own accessories since she was 18, so she thought she could come up with designs to give to these organizations to help them raise funds.  She learned how to silkscreen from watching YouTube videos, and Prinkshop was born.

What kind of causes does Prinkshop support?  Issues like gun control, taking care of girls all over the world, women’s rights, a woman’s right to choose, learning differences, people with special needs. To paraphrase a Prinkshop design, you see an injustice, Pamela sees a t-shirt. No matter what the cause, a Prinkshop design must fulfill three criteria: it must be 1. Positive, 2. Provocative and 3. Spark change.

Where are the shirts made? In America! But there’s more, they are made in a factory employing adults with autism, a group that is vastly unemployed or underemployed in our country.  And part of the reason Prinkshop creates only positive designs is so that the workers will spend their time surrounded by this positivity. As a proponent of social entrepreneurship. Pamela walks the walk from top to bottom in her company.

I feel like I have I heard about Prinkshop before... You probably have. Prinkshop worked with Cara Delevigne to create the now iconic “You See a Girl, I See the Future” tee to benefit the UN Foundation’s Girl Up initiative.

After that, they were contacted by companies like Theory, West Elm and J Crew to create designs.

With it’s “I’m a Feminist Too” t-shirt for J Crew, Prinkshop hit the national stage when a viral instagram post sparked a debate over whether feminism is political, whether our kids should wear political messages and even if boys can wear pink! (The shirt is red, by the way.)  After the t-shirt was featured in an eight-minute segment on ABC’s “The View”, the nation was talking and Prinkshop was on the map.What is Pamela’s greatest strength? From her college days selling hair accessories to her days at Kate Spade, Pamela has made a career out of saying yes, when everyone around her was saying no.

Inspiration. Her kids. In fact, one of her daughters provided the inspiration for Prinkshop when she came home one day with a t-shirt that said “St. Tropez.” While it was soft and pretty, it meant absolutely nothing and worse, to Pamela it stood for values that were not her family’s.  She said, “Why don’t you wear something you care about?” and, because she’s that kind of person, she made her daughter a t-shirt that said VOTE. Then her daughter was so inspired that she made a design for her for Haiti. Pamela’s kids and what they’re fired up about continue to inspire her.

What are the challenges of creating activist fashion? Finding the right price point, while manufacturing in America in a socially conscious way and donating a large portion of the profits is tricky, especially when your competitors might be doing business in less altruistic ways. There’s no question, proving the model of socially conscious capitalism is a struggle, but for now, at least, Prinkshop is doing more than fine, they are doing good.

How to do good in business. According to Pamela, it’s easy, just decide to. When you wake up, make the decision that you’re going to do something good today, whether it’s salvaging some discarded color copies in the office for wrapping paper or making sure that men and women are treated equally in your company. Anyone can do good in business, it’s just a choice.

How to start a business like Prinkshop. Just start. Start small, don’t worry about business cards or logos. Products sell and they don’t need a lot of marketing if they’re good.

Some of the organizations Prinkshop supports

Seeds of Peace

Autism Speaks

Special Olympics

National Institute for Reproductive Health

Crisis Text Line

Girl Up

Kiva

Every Mother Counts

Planned Parenthood

Everytown for Gun Safety

She Should Run

To learn more about Prinkshop, click here or visit them on instagram, facebook, or twitter.

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