Face masks, sweatshirts, stickers, bucket hats, mugs, and customizable products are just some of the many products Paper Bridges is selling in their new merchandise (merch) collection. Current proceeds are allocated towards the Paper Bridges’ fundraiser to send face masks to foster youth across the United States amid COVID-19, as well as to cover costs associated with shipping letters, care packages, and STEAM kits to orphanages around the world.
The Paper Bridges team has been working on the merch store since May of 2020. Paper Bridges began marketing the merch store in December through its website and posts on Instagram. This included a merch giveaway on the official Paper Bridges Instagram, which lasted from January 1 to January 17.
To further publicize the merch store, Paper Bridges is working to create content on its Paper Bridges TikTok and advertise on Google. At the chapter level, chapter leadership can encourage their members to buy from the store and display their visible support.
Carrie Wang, the Marketing Director of Paper Bridges, said that, by shopping at the Paper Bridges merch store, people directly help fund its initiatives while simultaneously receiving a tangible item. “As a nonprofit, I think funding is something that is really important, and shipping is really expensive, so [the Paper Bridges team] has been looking for fun ways to fundraise,” she said.
While adapting to COVID-19 led to setbacks in developing new fundraising ideas, it has ultimately allowed Paper Bridges to expand as an organization. Because standard fundraising methods, such as bake sales and bracelet sales, were no longer viable options, COVID-19 was a driving cause for Paper Bridges to create the merch store to fundraise on a global scale. Wang explained that COVID-19 has helped Paper Bridges grow its online platform, establish more chapters, and connect more people to the nonprofit.
In order to create unique merch designs, Paper Bridges social media and marketing directors held a competition for its interns to submit their design ideas. The fourteen designs were voted on by the 2020 summer interns and executive board members. The final designs used are Zander Vilaysane, former Video Producer of Paper Bridges, and Ester Xiong, who helped with the visual design, as well as Kayden Fu, who was reached out to commission a design.
Vilaysane’s motivation for submitting his design stemmed from his passion for digital design. “It provided me an opportunity that related to my interests in digital media and digital arts,” he said.
The design of a paper plane flying over the globe was the original Paper Bridges logo, which is a significant symbol to Vilaysane. Consequently, this encouraged him to implement a similar design for the merch.
“Paper Bridges, I think, is a means of communicating from one community to another, specifically from our nonprofit chapters to orphanage communities, and that communication is [often] sent between letters,” Vilaysane said. “I think letters are a big initiative that this organization has, and so I thought that was something that [Paper Bridges] would represent. The paper plane revolving around a globe is communicating how they are able to touch base with one community to another.”