Big Boolies, a branded clothing, vehicle graphics and signage company in Malton, North Yorkshire, has launched a rainbow T-shirt fundraising campaign to help raise money for charity during the coronavirus crisis.

Gemma Mills, founder and co-director of the company with her husband Nick, has designed and printed rainbow slogan T-shirts, and asked her customers to post pictures of themselves wearing the garments on social media to raise awareness for the campaign.

She said: “We’re doing adults and kids T-shirts, and asking them to take a selfie, put it on their Instagram and then tag us in. I’m trying to get as many people in a bright coloured rainbow T-shirt as possible — taking pictures at home, or if they’re a keyworker, wearing it to work.”

Gemma explained that she had a drop in her business since the Covid-19 lockdown, and wanted to do something to support her company, whilst helping to raise money for the NHS and other charities struggling during the crisis.

“I thought, I’m going to start a T-shirt campaign, with every bit of profit that we make from the T-shirts going to the NHS and others in need. So, what I’m doing is building so much up [of funds], and then I’m spending it where it’s needed — the local foodbank could get stocked, or anybody else that needs anything, that’s doing anything, for the NHS or care homes for example.”

Gemma has set up a Big Boolies Shopify page for customers to purchase the T-shirts online, and sold nearly £600 worth of T-shirts in the first week of the campaign.

The T-shirts were designed using CorelDraw software

Created using a sublimation heat press from Resolute DTG

Gemma uses Gildan T-shirts

“I made my first £200 donation to a local group called Ryedale Scrubs Community on Facebook, who have been making scrubs out of pillowcases, duvet covers, any bits of fabric they could get their hands on.

“They’ve asked volunteer sewers to get their sewing machines out at home and start making scrubs for the NHS staff in care homes or local surgery practices. It’s so big now, they’re producing thousands of them for the local Yorkshire area and further afield.

“One of girls who was involved said to me ‘I’ve seen your rainbow T-shirts, and I’m going to order them for my family because I think they’re absolutely fantastic, but would you donate one of the T-shirts to a raffle that I’m launching because I need to raise £330 to buy fabric for the Ryedale Scrubs’.

“I said, ‘I’ll do better than that – I’ll give you £200 towards that total’. She started crying on the phone, and I told her that this is what I’m doing it for — I’m raising money for causes such as hers.”

The designs on the rainbow T-shirts were created using CorelDraw software, and printed on a sublimation heat press from Resolute DTG using garment film from Xpres and Hexis. The garments used include Gildan’s Ultra Cotton T-shirt (GD02), Heavy Cotton T-shirt (GD05) and the Kids Heavy Cotton T-shirt (GD05B) supplied by PenCarrie.

“I’m relying on friends, family, customers and colleagues to share the T-shirts, but we need more help to get them seen,” added Gemma.

“I just want to bring a little happiness to everybody — they’re so bright and cheerful. If I can make these T-shirts and make people smile, and raise funds in the process, I would love it – it would make me smile.

“When this is all over, if we have people having street parties wearing these rainbow T-shirts, it would just be absolutely amazing, and that’s what I’m trying to aim for — a community pulling together to raise money for those working their socks off to protect us all.

“That’s the reason we’re doing it — to give something back to those that are working so hard to save us all.”