Societal Stickers, a sticker business founded by Joyce Li ’23, all started with an outdated family printer. Inspired by signs she saw at a Black Lives Matter protest, Li used the broken printer to design and sell her first sticker on Etsy. Over a year and a half later, Li now works with her own printer, silhouette, and guillotine cutter, producing more than one hundred orders a week from her dorm room.
“Stickers are an interesting product because they are very visual and lucrative products. They are [a] part of most people’s lives, even if they might not realize it. [They are] on someone’s water bottle, someone’s computer… Stickers are easy to ship, they’re cheap, and there’s not much of a large starting cost. So, I already had a printer. I just bought vinyl and some laminate. I didn’t even need to buy a cutter, I was hand-cutting it to start with. [The] initial cost was probably under fifty bucks, [so] it was easy and simple,” said Li.
With her previous graphic design experience and an interest in social justice, Li’s purpose for selling these stickers is to raise awareness of societal issues while giving back to the community. Li finances, manages, and markets her business on Etsy, which is an online e-commerce for handmade crafts. From designing, laminating, to packaging, Li carefully goes through each step to ensure that the quality of her stickers is consistent, but most importantly she focuses on trying to send impactful messages with her products.
“I have different sections of my shop where a sticker will be based around one organization… [And in addition to that,] a lot of the time I [also] rework vintage magazines…For example, if I find a woman doing a really sexist, kind of misogynistic ad, I’ll rework it to include a feminist message, instead. So, a lot of that is dependent on what the magazine is about [and] where the text fits in,” said Li.
Li also donates 100 percent of her proceeds to charities, including the American Civil Liberties Union, The Young Democratic Socialists of America, and more. According to her friend, Alma Fong ’23, Li tries to give to organizations that address institutional problems rather than individual ones, hoping her proceeds will be more impactful in the long run.
“Joyce doesn’t take any profits. She only pays herself what she invests in, and that’s it. I think that’s very unique… Joyce says that it feels wrong for her to capitalize off of the fact that she’s contributing to a cause. She invests all this time and energy into this and it’s only because she wants to donate. She [makes] no monetary gain from this and I think that’s really special.” said Fong.
According to Fong, Li has gradually invested in larger and better equipment as the company boosted in sales. Since last year, Societal Stickers has sold hundreds of stickers and generated thousands of dollars in sales. In the future, Li hopes to expand her business by possibly selling enamel and circular pins.
“I would love to run something like this where independent artists submit their art and I make a product for them and I sell them and do all the business side of things for them and give a significant cut of the money, as much as possible, back to the artist,” said Li.