As part of our European Voices series, Europa United met with Jean Coulson who is behind Word Up Design. Word Up Design has produced a range of pro-EU apparel that has been extremely popular as the must wear gear for the Remain campaign. Jean, from London, tells us about the idea behind Word Up Design and what her opinions are on Brexit and the campaign for remaining in Europe.
So Jean, where are you from originally?
I’m from South-East London originally, but now I live in Lee, Blackheath.
Do you have a background in fashion?
My background is actually in graphic design which I have been in for the last 18 years. I work with both commercial and non-profit clients with their brochures, exhibitions and website design. Since the start of last year, I decided to go freelance and work on my own projects.
So how did the idea of designing the range of apparel come about?
When the referendum result was announced, I had had a baby four months before, and I was thinking of her and how different the world could be, so I stared designing tee shirts as a way of getting involved and active. I was working on the idea with the help of a large pro-EU group called The 48%. I took on board members’ comments and before too long, I was printing tee shirts. The first run sold over 300 pieces, which was a huge surprise to me. It was very important for me that for every piece sold, a share was donated to a charity and I chose the Save The Children organisation and 10% of each item will go towards their funding.
Which item was the most popular?
The most popular one was the tee shirts. I think it was that they came out directly after the result, so people were using them in marches and meetings. I went back to the group and asked them what the EU means for them and incorporated the suggestions into further designs and all of them have also done really well. I’ve also designed posters that people can download for free and use them for their local groups or meetings and these have been very popular as well.
Has there been any interest from retail outlets?
To be honest, I haven’t looked at that yet. It’s probably something that I should research into.
Are you planning to continue this project as a small business outside of the Remain campaign?
I think there probably is some longevity for the designs, but whatever I do, it will always have a charity element to the business. My plan is to network further afield and see if there is any interest in other people working with me. I’m looking into the idea of printing the apparel in different languages. It’s all about talking to people and exchanging ideas that have helped this grow. My plan for 2017 is to have a website and a larger network of people who would be willing to work with me.
I’m interested in your thoughts on Brexit. Do you think that there will be another referendum?
I don’t think there will be another referendum. The further it goes, the less hope we will have to get another referendum. I think it’s more of a case of trying to get the best deal at this stage. I like proposals such as the associated citizenship that was put forward by the Liberal Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens.
What hurts you the most about Brexit?
The loss of citizenship is the one thing that has upset me the most. Brexit has taken away my child’s and my own rights to live, work and travel freely. I feel very European and it’s my identity that has been stripped. I also think that both sides didn’t consider the future generations at all. All that people were talking about was immigration and what they want from Brexit. To be honest, I think it’s bizarre that we had the referendum at all.