T-shirts That Give Back
Resilient, resourceful, and ready-for-action are the descriptors for most of us New Orleanians. And nowhere is that more evident than in the teaming of hospitality worker Monica Bourgeois and Blake Haney, owner of Dirty Coast, a community conscious t-shirt business.
When Bourgeois, who’s been in the wine business for almost 15 years, found herself out of work with the recent shut down of restaurants and bars, she wanted to do something to help, so she created a t-shirt design with the hope of raising funds for hospitality workers in need. She then reached out to Haney and a partnership was formed.
Haney’s team refined her design and put the t-shirts into production. The t-shirt and bag designs feature unique front-and-back designs and are available to purchase at www.dirtycoast.com. All shirts are printed using eco-friendly, water-based inks.
The duo decided to donate 50 percent of all of the sales proceeds to Louisiana Hospitality Foundation (LHF) and United Way Southeast Louisiana’s newly-established Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund, which aids hospitality workers directly with financial awards.
“When the city shut down, I found myself and most of my friends suddenly unable to work, and therefore without a paycheck,” says Bourgeois. “What I did have was some free time and I love casually designing t-shirts for my tennis teams and business, so I thought, what if I make a shirt where the proceeds help struggling hospitality workers?”
Bourgeois wanted to focus her efforts on something that spoke to what restaurants were doing to keep revenue being generated so they could continue to support their employees.
“With so many restaurants adapting and offering “to-go” menus, I thought it was appropriate to reference that, in a playful way,” she says. “I was picking up takeout daily and just sort of worked it out from there. I sent Blake my design and asked if he wanted to help and there was no hesitation.”
The shirts and totes went live a few days ago on Dirtycoast.com., and Bourgeois reports that sales are doing well.
“I haven’t received up-to-date numbers today yet, but social media is helping spread the word.”
Bourgeois is not resting after this one effort. She’s also putting together a resource newsletter to provide an easy reference tool regarding financial assistance and free meal offerings in the city.
“I want to help as much as I can with the free time I now have,” she says.
On a personal level, she says she’s started crafting, making bottle cap refrigerator magnets inspired by a Krewe Du Vieux throw.
“And I’ve been frisbee golfing with my husband,” she says. “It’s a fun sport where you don’t have to touch anything and get some fresh air and exercise.”
Like almost all of us, Bourgeois is creating ways to move positively and safely through these frightening and uncharted waters.
“Everyone knows what a strong and tight community New Orleans is,” she says. “We take care of each other. We’ve proven our grit and resilience and ability to rebuild. As long as we do what we can to support one another, we can survive this.”