Wearing the world on your heart—and your T-shirt

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Combine social activism with fashion and you have the Joy T-shirt Project, an ethical T-shirt company that takes the concept of “wearing your heart on your sleeve” literally.

Inspired by his passion to unite individuals in an innovative way, social entrepreneur and Joy T-shirt Project creator, Jeff Woodrow, encouraged people to tackle issues of racism and discrimination on a global scale.

Feeling he was putting all his creativity into projects no one cared about, Woodrow left his previous job and devised the Joy T-shirt Project.

“I now wake up every morning and I am truly passionate about my work and the possibility that this project will inspire people around the world to think of others,” he says.

How does the Joy Project work? Every T-shirt is 100 per cent unique and customized to each individual. First, visit the website at JoyTshirt.com, where there are hundreds of hand-drawn photos of real people from around the world. Each face has a small blurb stating the person’s name, location and passions in life.

After selecting a face, you choose the size, style and colour of your shirt. The face will be printed over the heart, with the slogan “wear the world on your heart.” When wearing your Joy tee, you’re encouraged to think about that person and how your actions affect everyone globally.

After purchasing a T-shirt, you can take an active role in the project by submitting a photo of yourself, which will be hand drawn and posted on the website for others to choose. This forwards the project’s message and confirms the notion that one person can make a difference by spreading “joy” one T-shirt at a time.

From Australia to the Middle East to London, Ontario, members of this project extend to all corners of the globe. By contributing to this global awareness mission, your face could end up on the heart of someone else worldwide. Without even knowing it, they could be thinking about you.

“I like that the idea of the project is to personally connect people to each other through fashion. If one T-shirt can remind you to have some compassion for someone on the other side of the world that you don’t know, it suddenly becomes a vehicle for change,” Emma Dines, one of the first participants of the project, says.

The project’s secondary initiative is to inform consumers of the negative outcomes of purchasing goods produced in sweatshops. “There is an increasing market of consumers who care about how they impact people in other countries and this market supports clothing that has been made without sweatshop labour,” Woodrow adds.

Each sweatshop-free, custom-made tee costs $26, with five per cent of the profits donated to a different charity each month. The charities chosen hold similar objectives to the Joy Project, focused mainly on promoting equality and development worldwide and other global epidemics.

“Wearing a Joy T-shirt is about taking an active stance against racism and discrimination,” Woodrow says. “It is about loving your neighbour, because in some way or another we are all connected.”

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