Affirmations LGBTQ community center in Ferndale has opened an online store featuring an assortment of merchandise with its logo and branding. The store is a partnership between the center and ShannonLoren, a Troy-based, LGBTQ-owned marketing company.
"When Affirmations began, when [the first executive director] Jan [Stevenson] was there, I was on the hotline when it kind of started up and was over on Seven Mile," said Myra Walman, who brokered the deal between ShannonLoren and the center. "So, I'm a big fan of Affirmations and Jan Stevenson."
Walman worked with ShannonLoren President David Huber and Michael McManus on the Affirmations deal.
"We talked about how can we help the community and Affirmations was one of the first groups that we started connecting with and said, 'Hey, if we do this, we can help promote and we can build your brand recognition so that you can get the Affirmations name out there,'" Walman said. "And what's the best way to do that? Having folks wear T-shirts with your names and caps with your name and getting items that people want that are fun and also usable. So, we talked to the Affirmations staff first and they went to the board. We thought that this was our way of contributing to the community so we're donating our time and talent and the resources of our graphics department. It's working out well."
In addition to T-shirts and caps, merchandise for sale on the site includes fleece jackets and pullovers, flags, backpacks, tote bags, cinch sacks and more.
"We looked at different options in person and relied on their years of experience in the merchandising field for the first offerings," said Affirmations Director of Development John Joanette.
"We just started out with a basic set of items," Walman said. "We'll be coming out with more items. This is just to start with.
"It's another revenue stream for them," Walman continued. "We also have the donate button on there as well so people as they're thinking about shopping they can also make a donation that links directly to the Affirmations website. It gives a little more exposure. People who might be waiting to the end of the year, now they donate all year round."
Proceeds from sales go to support the center's general operations, "although we have used the fund to date for our COVID-specific initiatives," said Joanette.
If the partnership is productive, as Walman is predicting it will be, merchandise available will increase.
"It's been a wonderful partnership so far," she said. "They're great people to work with and they're very appreciative. We're hoping to raise money for Affirmations. It's a win-win for us.
"And If this ends up working well, we'll be reaching out to other nonprofits in the community to see if we can help them as well."