Julia Spreng T-shirt 3

Julia Spreng holds up the back of one of her shirts to show the QR code. UGA graduate Julia Spreng shows her Black Lives Matter t-shirts she created with a QR code on the back that sends scanners to related petitions on June 19, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

While making posters and discussing appropriate outfits for the June 6 Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement rally, University of Georgia graduate Julia Spreng and senior Isabelle Heckler made a spur-of-the-moment decision—to create a QR code that could be worn on the back of her black T-shirt for people to scan.

The QR code T-shirt was linked to the section of the Black Lives Matter website with ways to help. Spreng decided to use this website for the QR code since it condensed helpful and reliable resources onto a T-shirt.

Spreng and Heckler attended the rally in their QR T-shirts, which fellow rally-goers gravitated towards.

After the rally and the positive reception, Spreng decided to create QR shirts for people to purchase. The QR code sends people to her own website which has links to petitions and a T-shirt order form.

Revenue from a T-shirt purchase is donated to organizations of the customer’s choice. Though Spreng had never created a website before, she wanted to have full control over the website to ensure the shirt could continue to evolve with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“[Spreng] is always thinking of a million different creative solutions to things that go on in our daily life," Heckler said. "For it to be applicable on a broader scale is just a really great platform for her to have."

Spreng’s website has a Petitions section, which links to petitions for several causes including, “Defund the Police and Reallocate to Marginalized Communities,” “Say Their Names,” “Bills and Acts,” “Yemen Crisis” and “Rename XYZ.”

Spreng’s shirts are available for $10 plus shipping or free pickup in Athens. When a customer orders a shirt, 80% of the revenue is donated to an organization of the customer's choosing and 20% goes toward supplies.

The online order form includes five different organizations for customers to choose where the revenue from their purchase is donated to, including the Loveland Therapy Fund, Black Lives Matter, Committee to Protect Journalists, Innocence Project and the National Bail Fund Network. Customers receive confirmation of the donation within two days after their order is placed, according to the online order form.

Just a day after she created the first two QR code T-shirts, Spreng received 25 orders from her friends and family. Currently, she has received over 51 orders and counting.

After the rally, Heckler wore the QR shirt every day for a week. Heckler said she got a lot of feedback just from walking around in Athens. When she was at restaurants to pick up food, people would ask her about it and scan the back of the shirt.

“That is one of my favorite parts of the shirt is the ability to start a conversation and engage in a dialogue with other people about such an important issue in our society,” Heckler said.

At the moment, Spreng’s living room has been taken over by a massive amount of shirts and supplies. Although Spreng prints every shirt herself in Athens, she has fulfilled orders in California and Connecticut. Spreng hopes the shirts will continue to spread throughout Athens and beyond.

“I wish I had these shirts made a long time ago, and we are learning every day how to do our part,” Spreng said. “But, I think it’s something I have always had a regard for, and I am really happy I can contribute in any way to helping people change.”


Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that Heckler is an international student. Heckler is an out-of-state student from New Jersey. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has since been fixed.

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