When Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” in an October debate, Jamie Dillon sprung into action.
The co-owner of an online shop on the Etsy website called PoliticalPartyTees, the Philadelphia resident drew up a T-shirt with the slogan and started selling it the next day.
It’s become something of a ritual in the months since then, as Dillon scours the news for the latest viral phrase to put on a T-shirt, whether it was James Comey telling a Senate Intelligence hearing “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” a picture of President Obama’s face and the phrase “I Miss Barry” or a riff on the old feminist slogan, “The Future Is Still Female.”
Dillon is one of a number of graphic designers and crafters who are making money selling anti-Trump merchandise online. Searches for phrases like “Nevertheless, she persisted”—a reference to a viral moment featuring Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren—show thousands of results, ranging from jewelry to tote bags to framed posters.
“Something happens, people feel passionate about it, and they want something to represent how they feel,” Dillon says. “We’ve been selling Tt-shirts on the internet for close to 20 years… it used to be a very specific thing to do, but now there’s a boom.”
Zach Rodvold, who has worked on campaigns in Minnesota for 15 years, saw a market in resistance-themed merchandise and jumped on it. He and his wife, who is a graphic designer, started their shop, Assist the Resistance, in February.
“We knew that there was a demand for it … we didn’t see a lot of people doing it particularly well,” Rodvold says. He also notes that the field has become much more crowded in recent months, but embraces the competition. “I take it as a good sign for the country… that people are willing to step out there a little more.”
Paulette Jemmott-Wiley runs the Etsy shop dahliasoleil from her home in Queens which sells mostly iron-on patches and hats. She began selling “Nasty Woman” patches in October.
“I thought only American women would buy [them], but I ship them around the world,” Jemmott-Wiley says, adding that they were her most popular items around the election, by far. Her motivations for beginning to sell political items are personal: “I’m an immigrant and I recently became a citizen, so I voted for the first time in this election … immigrants and women were a huge reason why.”
Kathryn Reichert of runs a shop that offers custom jewelry, and has also ventured into political-themed merchandise, selling “Nevertheless she persisted” and “Nasty woman” bracelets. However, she emphasizes that her goal is not so much to make a statement, but rather to inspire and empower her female customers.
“I’m not really trying to be political as much as I am reacting to words and events that resonate with me, and embracing the messages I feel might also resonate with my customers,” she said.