Prinkshop Founder Pamela Bell on Making T-Shirts for a Cause

by Sterling Lucas

The Made-in-America t-shirt line popped-up at Union Market Easter weekend.


Pamela Bell is the CEO of Prinkshop, a politically charged silkscreen company that designs fun products that advocate for your cause. Through catchy slogans and celebrity collaborations Bell’s team generates awareness about a range of issues including equality, women’s rights, and public education.

A founding partner of the global brands Kate Spade and Jack Spade, Bell is no stranger to fashion design. She feels the key to success is doing what you are passionate about. Prinkshop’s goal is to give customers the power to directly support and promote their cause through fashion. DC locals had the opportunity to visit a pop up location of the Prinkshop studio at Union Market Easter weekend.A

We caught up with Pamela Bell last week to learn about her unique business philosophy.

Why DC for a pop up location? I came to DC for the March. So many of my campaigns and issues have to do with equality and women’s rights. It just seemed like the natural place to start. There is nothing like this. We love Union Market. It’s a great weekend, amazing weather, so far we have been off to a great start!

Do you feel silkscreen has a unique ability to convey political messages? With the immediacy of silkscreen you can have an idea and create it. You can print thousands of postcards or posters within 24 hours. So I think that silkscreening is the medium of choice for social issues calling for action.

Tell me about your decision to have all of your products made in America? Everything is made in America. When we first started Kate Spade we made everything in America for years but we sold part of the company and were forced to expand overseas.  I didn’t have the strength or the ability at the time to prove them wrong, that it actually costs less by making in America. And after studying it I’m absolutely confident that I am actually spending less. There is a lot of waste involved with oversees production.

Prinkshop donates 30% of all proceeds from products sold to the cause they represent. Why do you feel it is important to donate a substantial amount to these organizations? We try to give as much as we can and the more we do the more we can give. I feel like it is the way to do business. I call it creative capitalism why not split it. It works and we can all do well.

How do you pick the organizations you choose to partner with? To be honest, it’s a personal vetting system. I have several interns and I have two daughters who are extremely politically charged and we have a consensus and we just review the issue. They are always personal to us, sometimes deeply personal. We are just an empathic group. The organizations we partner with we feel are doing the best job in eradicating the problem or helping the victims.

Are there any causes you are particularly passionate about right now? I’m passionate about all of them! We just launched a design with an organization called Zana Africa. It is very simple it just says “period.” A woman from Harvard went to Kenya and discovered girls were dropping out of school because they didn’t have access to sanitary napkins. So she created this organization and she trains kids and supplies them with napkins, she even started a sanitary napkin factory. All of our shirts are vague. They are about conversation. I created this company so that we as individuals can advertise out towards the world instead of the world telling us what we need to wear.

Do you think more businesses can and should utilize what you call creative capitalism? I hope so, I think that it is a very fulfilling life to give back. Why not, so many people are so focused on the bottom line. We have very few returns occur; customers are really passionate. Some women just came up to our stand who were so excited.

This t-shirt, a collaboration with the United Nations Girl Up Campaign, is one of Prinkshop’s most popular designs.

One of your most popular designs is the “You see a girl, I see the future” slogan, can you tell me about the design process? It was a collaboration between the United Nations Girl Up campaign, Uncommon Union, and one of my designers as well as Cara Delevingne. Cara was a big proponent. She loved the design and wore it!

What is next for Prinkshop? I want to expand to help more causes and do more collaborations. By the year 2020 I would like to have donated 5 million dollars. I think I can do it. One of my goals is to sell one million “1973” shirts (which commemorate the year of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling). That would be 35 million in sales, and 5 million would go to the National Institute for Reproductive Health. The design is so good, the shirt is so great and people love it. I’m going to do it!


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