How Phenomenal Became a Leading Social Impact Apparel Brand

Meena Harris, like many American women, was driven to action after the 2016 election.

“I found myself wondering what I personally could do to lift up women, make our voices heard and support issues I cared about,” Harris said, recalling the period just after Trump’s election (and the loss of what many expected would be the first woman president, Hillary Clinton). Harris started making T-shirts to raise money for feminist initiatives. One of her early designs, for the 2017 Women’s March, was a stark statement: a phrase inspired by Harris’ favorite Maya Angelou poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” emblazoned across the chest.

“We thought it was going to be a small thing,” said Harris, “But we ended up selling 2,500 shirts in one day.”

Three-and-a-half years later, Phenomenal is a social impact merchandise company that partners with major brands and reaches over a million people a week on Instagram alone. And the nation stands poised on a moment that mirrors the spark that originally lit Harris into action: Her aunt, Kamala Harris, could likely become not just the country’s first female vice president—but also the first Black woman and first Asian woman to lead the executive branch.

a woman with brown hair smiling while sitting in a store window
The growth of Meena Harris’ brand since the 2016 election shows the power of progressive social impact marketing in the Trump era.María del Río

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