Mat Calimpong is from Gilroy and has frequented the festival for years. White Wolf Branding teamed with a childhood friend of Calimpong’s, who heads San Francisco-based cologne company, GUY FOX, to help raise funds by donating the proceeds of custom-branded tees. Soon afterwards, the distributor was involved in fundraising efforts to help the victims of the August 3 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

PPB Can you share with us the story behind the product design of your t-shirts and how the initiative was received?

Calimpong I got word of the tragedy moments after it happened through friends back home in Gilroy. Normally, I would have been at the festival celebrating my birthday, which also happens to be on July 28. The tragedy shook the community of Gilroy deeply. Almost immediately, community members started generating initiatives to raise funds for the victims and their families. Right away, I knew that I wanted to get involved in some capacity and raise funds for my hometown.

Sean Simmons, president of White Wolf Branding, and I discussed different things we could try to contribute and bounced around a few ideas. The Monday after the tragedy, Liam Eriksson, a good friend of mine since childhood, who is familiar with the work we do, asked if we’d like to partner on this initiative. His team created an amazing t-shirt design the day after the shooting that was reminiscent of the traditional Gilroy Garlic Festival tanks that sell out every year. They also opened an online store, and with the initial response being what it was, he realized they would need to produce more t-shirts than planned. This is when we got involved.

After some talks with Liam, I found that he was paying far more for production than what he should’ve been paying. It was our goal to raise as much as we could for the victims and their families, so I spoke with his team on how we could lower the costs of production as much as possible in order to donate as much as possible. Once we were dialed in, we continued to promote the initiative through our combined social media channels, and the response from the community was overwhelming. Our initial goal, for each of us, was to raise $1,000, and after 48 hours, we were projected to raise more than $15,000. It was a true testament to the spirit of our community and how everyone banded together to respond to this senseless tragedy.

PPB What are some of the other awareness campaigns White Wolf Branding has been involved in, and what were some of the products designed?

Calimpong Gilroy Strong and El Paso Strong were the first two fundraising initiatives White Wolf Branding has gotten involved in. After seeing the success with these two efforts, it has encouraged us to look into getting involved in some other charitable causes. It’s extremely fulfilling when we can take what we do in our day-to-day work and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

PPB What would you suggest to other promotional products companies who are looking to get involved in awareness campaigns?

Calimpong What I would suggest is to have a product that ties in closely with what the initiative is or that relates to the community you’re looking to raise funds for. One reason why the Gilroy Strong shirts did so well is because the design was derived from the traditional Gilroy Garlic Festival tank top, which had a design and aesthetic that was familiar and relatable to our community. I think it made the community feel like it was their design and their shirt, which attributed to the massive response we saw in the short amount of time that we ran the campaign.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.