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A pair of entrepreneur brothers in New York have launched a T-shirt with a powerful message to help the fight against anti-Asian violence.
Tim and Daniel Joo, co-founders of Haerfest (pronounced “harvest”), are no strangers to racism as children of Korean immigrants.
With the ongoing rise in anti-Asian incidents across the country, they knew they had to do something.
“We wanted to help in the way we knew how, through the power of design,” Tim told NextShark. “We believe that fashion is a platform that can help create identity, conversation, and exchange of perspectives. We created a simple shirt to communicate a big idea.”
The brothers created T-shirts bearing the message “Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes.”
“Its graphic is a few words that hold a lot of meaning and is made with a circular design that visually illustrates that if we don’t do or say something, history will just repeat itself,” Tim says.
Since the onset of COVID-19, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents have been recorded by Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition tracking the phenomenon. However, many believe more cases have gone unreported as victims refuse to speak up.
“Our Asian-American stories need to be heard in this time of crisis,” Tim says. “We’re hoping these designs can act as a catalyst for conversation, education, and donations to support change and solidarity through organizations dedicated to building up the voices of the AAPI community.”
Tim recalled an eye-opening incident from his youth that taught him why racism is never acceptable.
“I took a trip with my non-Asian friend’s family to their hometown,” he said. “On the plane, I asked the flight attendant for something and he responded with ‘Open your eyes.’”
Tim says he did not say anything or really even understand what just happened until his friend’s father called it racism.
“I felt safe having my friend’s dad stand up for me,” he continued. “From that day forward, it was important for me to be aware and vocal when experiencing or seeing racism against those who are victims of hate.”
Inspired by their parents’ immigrant journey, Tim and Dan built Haerfest as a bag company that “equips people with the freedom to work anywhere.” Starting with one bag in New York, their business has now grown to a collection sold all over the world.
“That’s how Haerfest was founded — with the idea that if you put hard work into the things you love, great things will grow. We believe it’s a universal idea that everyone can resonate with,” Tim says.
The brothers now pledge to donate 100% of the proceeds from the first production run of their T-shirts to Stop AAPI Hate and other organizations that fight anti-Asian hate.
“We want to break free from an illusion many believe that we can expect change to happen on its own. Change starts from within and through the actions of empowered individuals who believe that we can be the change we hope to see in the world,” they said in a statement. “As two proud Asian Americans taking action to create change, we ask you to join us and use the power of your voices to spread more awareness to your communities, educating those who are unaware of what’s happening and spread vetted researched information.”
Haerfest’s “Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes” shirts come at $35. Head over to Haerfest to donate by purchase.
Feature Images via Haerfest