Oak Park-based online retailer ShabbyFly has taken the design of the Oak Park Black Lives Matter street mural and transformed it into a wearable statement of support for the local community and the wider social justice movement.
“It’s a great way of keeping the movement going, especially in Oak Park,” said Cullen Benson, one of the artists behind the mural.
ShabbyFly has an array of merchandise for men, women and children that prominently displays “BLACK LIVES MATTER” using the same coloration as that of the Scoville Avenue mural. The Black Lives Matter design features T-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, face masks and yard signs.
“Having that message on Oak Parkers and on residents’ lawns is a great thing for our community,” Benson said. “It adds to the permanence of the mural.”
Available for purchase on the ShabbyFly website, 75 percent of the proceeds from Black Lives Matter merchandise sales goes directly to the Black Lives Matter organization. Spilt Red Collective, the group of artists behind the mural, receives 15 percent of the proceeds.
“It’s just a way to help continue to support the efforts of the BLM organization movements needing funding,” said Kareem Price, ShabbyFly owner and Oak Park resident. “It won’t have felt right to me not to donate back to these organizations to help them with future endeavors.”
Benson agreed, saying, “I think it was very important for him, especially as a Black man, to get this money going back towards something.”
The Spilt Red Collective team also felt it very important to give back to the Black Lives Matter organization.
“I don’t think we would have done the deal if it weren’t for that,” said Benson. “We didn’t want it to seem like we were profiting off the movement.”
Spilt Red Collective’s 15 percent goes towards funding other public art projects that support social causes and positive messages in other communities.
Multiple people reached out to Price requesting he use the design on ShabbyFly products after Price shared on social media a photo of the mural taken at its unveiling. Shortly after, Price reached out to Spilt Red Collective through Instagram and got the group’s permission.
“We were excited about the fact that our design was so loved throughout the Oak Park community that people wanted to use an Oak Park design to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Benson.
The majority of the Oak Park-inspired Black Lives items have a price tag in the range of $20 to $25, while men’s sweatshirts go for $40 and masks for $8. The ShabbyFly Black Lives Matter collection has generated healthy sales.
“We’ve had to reorder sweatshirts and T-shirts. We’re going to reorder masks coming up soon,” said Price. “They’ve been selling pretty good.”
While Benson has not yet purchased anything from the collection, his friends have told him great things about their ShabbyFly Black Lives Matter wares.
“A couple of my friends who are not Oak Parkers have purchased the shirts and they send me photos, saying, “I love this shirt. It looks so great.”
This has been updated to correct an error regarding the organization to which the proceeds are donated.