Created with the intention of providing relief to the long list of small businesses forced to close (hopefully) temporarily, Merch Aid—an initiative helmed by a team of RGA employees—pairs an established artist with a local business. The designer or artist creates exclusive merchandise (a T-shirt and a tote bag) for the company, with 100% of the sales going directly to the local business.
Localized to New York City for the time-being (though there are plans to expand), the first collection celebrates and supports businesses in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan: Keg & Lantern, Lighthouse restaurant, New Kam Hing coffee shop, Harlem Doggie Day Spa, Astor Place Hairstylists, and the Astoria Bookshop.
The designs are diverse, but each is an homage to the business. Standards Manual co-founder Hamish Smyth‘s text logo for the Harlem Doggie Day Spa playfully turns the serif Gs into wagging tails. Prolific illustrator Ilya Milstein‘s contribution for decades-old institution New Kam Hing promotes togetherness and the community that the coffee shop offers.
Below the latter product listing, Merch Aid offers a statement from the shop owner: “We just hope to get past this tough situation and keep this bakery going. We want to keep the tradition of sponge cakes alive and well in our beloved home we call Chinatown. We hope to see all of our regular customers and new hopefully very soon.”
These businesses were chosen by the RGA team and future collaborations will be pulled from the pre-existing crop of internal suggestions and a public-facing submissions email. There, businesses or creatives can apply to partake in the project. Most importantly, the funds are given to business-owners, but this project is also a celebratory collaboration between artists, designers and beloved locals.
Images courtesy of RGA