Sometimes it takes a T-shirt to open up a conversation about social change. Enter Joy, who began the company Be The Difference, LLC.
The company originally started because Joy was heavily into fitness, and she wanted a shirt that said “Work Hard, Snack Harder.” When the first self-made T-shirt became such a conversation starter, Joy went out and looked for designers to create more.
The operation evolved into a mission to get strangers on the street and even your friends to begin discussions about social change and spreading positivity and support. “I was tired of seeing negative images,” says Joy. “Why can’t I just do something positive? This movement is about change,” says Joy.
Some shirts: “Say No to Workforce Bullying.” “The Grass is Greener…Right Here.” “Hard Work Pays Off.” Other shirts have positive affirmations: “I Can, I Will” and “Built for Tough.” Joy gets her inspiration from everyday people and things. “If I believe it, somebody else will believe it,” she says.
The subject matter is not always sunny, but begs to invoke change, such as the shirt emblazoned with “The Addiction Kills the Family.” Many have experience with that and it open up lines of communication.
“People are looking for something,” says Joy. “I know that in the long run these T-shirts will help raise awareness and help people treat people differently, even if a person just notices the words subliminally while passing by and recalls the message later.”
Joy donates 10% of profits every month to Hayden’s Heart charity organization, which raises awareness for infants with Congenital Heart Disease and helps families with expensive medical bills. She is also doing a series called “Our Lives Seen Through My Eyes,” based off of the “Addiction Kills the Family” T-shirt, and would like volunteers to come foward and share their stories as well. Watch the video here.
Check out Joy’s online shop here, or catch her merchandise at Teez N’ Things, (181 Monticello Ave.); A New You Hair Salon (593 Ocean Ave.); Uneeek Success Styles (407 Ocean Ave.); or at one ofJersey City’s outdoor markets. T-shirts range from $15-20.
Wear (and talk) it out,