Boston Strong raises $1 million, launches new tee

by Rebecca Fiore / Beacon Staff • April 10, 2014

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Chris Dobens and Nicholas Reynolds, the founders of Boston Strong, model the new T-shirt design.
Chris Dobens and Nicholas Reynolds, the founders of Boston Strong, model the new T-shirt design.

The Boston Strong T-shirt campaign reached the $1 million mark April 7 with the help of a new limited edition black and white tee launched April 1, according to co-founder Nicholas Reynolds.

Reynolds, a senior visual and media arts major, and Chris Dobens, a sophomore marketing communication major, created the shirts after last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three spectators and injured over 200.

The proceeds go directly to One Fund Boston, which Governor Deval Patrick and former Mayor Thomas M. Menino created to help those affected by the blasts. According to its website, the fund has collected nearly $61 million.

Reynolds said sales started subsiding last April as the Marathon bombings began to fade from the news. 

“The progress has been amazing throughout this past year,” Reynolds said. “We weren’t sure we were going to hit $1 million.”

Reynolds and Dobens decided to create a new design and reached out to contemporary artist Desire Obtain Cherish to commemorate the one year anniversary of the bombings.

According to Reynolds, Cherish is a conceptual street artist with an interest in philanthropy. Cherish was shown in the UNIX Gallery in New York City, where Boston Strong executive director and Emerson alumna Lane Brenner works. 

“Because of Lane’s connections back in New York, she was able to develop this idea of having a limited edition T-shirt,” Dobens said. “When she pitched it to us, it sounded like a good idea. We wanted to make sure we got to our million dollar mark.”

According to Dobens, 215 of the special edition shirts have been sold. 

He said other artists submitted ideas through Brenner, but ultimately the special edition design went to Cherish. 

“We saw a lot of parallels between what he does and what Boston Strong is,” Reynolds said. “This way we are sort of appropriating our own design. Boston Strong came out of the streets amidst chaos.”

Reynolds said after seeing numerous copycat shirts over the past year, the two decided to create their own spin on the original design.

The special edition shirt, which comes in two colors, costs $20. Of that, $15 goes to the One Fund Boston, and the remaining $5 covers manufacturing costs.

Dobens said the two are currently discussing whether or not to continue to sell the Boston Strong shirt after this year’s Marathon Monday.

“We wanted to be able to hand it off to the city of Boston,” he said. “We are ready to pass on the torch.”