Pulse

Through Retail, She Persisted

Rhody Craft’s Kim Clark takes on the administration, one t-shirt at a time

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Kim Clark’s Rhody Craft on Hope Street is known for its quirky, Rhode Island-themed, well, everything. But next to t-shirts and knick knacks displaying familiar landmarks and Ocean State imagery are a few tees designed with “Resist.” or “Team Mueller.”

“I’m channeling my rage is what I’m doing.”

Clark had been carrying a Black Lives Matter t-shirt in her store, but after the 2016 election she opened the throttle on her disappointment with the turn of political events. It started with pins – “Very Stable Genius,” “Nasty Women,” “Bad Hombre” – but the line of t-shirts she designs and calls RestistWare are about more than declaring her progressive bona fides. $10 from every shirt sold goes towards the RI ACLU. So far, Clark has contributed nearly $2,000.

“You really toy with ‘Should I do this with my business?’ But if you’re going to have a business and not be yourself, then what’s the point? You have to have a conscious,” she says. “Conscientious capitalism!”

The first shirt read “+2,864,974 votes” – the number of popular votes Clinton had over Trump. Most recently, Clark has unveiled the “I really do care do u?” design, evoking the First Lady’s tone-deaf border detention center ensemble. Response has been mostly positive – the “Team Mueller” shirt has been flying off the racks – and Clark is always up for talking politics with customers, regardless of where they stand.

“People feel comforted finding a community. Other people want to debate, and that’s fine. I know the community I live in,” Clark says, adding “I sell a lot of ‘Persist’ mugs.” When asked if she had any new designs in mind, your humble interviewer realized that, with our president’s ever-itchy Twitter fingers, it was probably a silly question to ask.
“There’s always a new comment!” Clark says, laughing because what else can you do at this point. “I restrain myself to be honest.” 769 Hope Street