The next time you see a Canada Goose or National Rifle Association laptop sticker, look again – it may be a student’s satirical artwork raising money for a good cause.
Ali Oksner, a senior majoring in political communication, began creating and selling stickers to parody brands last month. She is selling the two-and-a-half-inch stickers, which she hand paints and seals with Mod Podge, for $5 each or $20 for five through her personal Instagram account. The proceeds from the sticker designs go toward two different charity organizations.
“At this point in our lives, as college students, it’s when you start deciding where you stand,” Oksner said. “You vote every few years, but you vote with your money all the time.”
Her Canada Goose parody stickers, which she calls the “status patch,” resemble the patches that adorn the arm of Canada Goose parkas and feature an outline of the U.S. map over a dark blue background. The parodied stickers overlay the words “status patch bougie program” around the map instead of the normal logo that says “Canada Goose Arctic program.”
The proceeds from these stickers go toward the volunteer fees Oksner will pay to work with No Más Muertes, an organization that provides humanitarian aid at the U.S. border in Arizona, over spring break. In a little more than a week, Oksner has raised more than $250 for No Más Muertes with her sticker sales.
Oksner said she thinks there are better things to spend money on instead of pricey coats, but she isn’t seeking to “criminalize” Canada Goose jackets. She said she hopes the stickers can be a “catalyst for conversation” about the ethical issues of the company and conscious spending.
Canada Goose jackets sell for about $900 each and are stuffed with goose down feathers and have a removable coyote fur trim on the hood.
Oksner sells the stickers through her personal social media accounts. Her only marketing has come in the form of a post by GW Geese, an Instagram account that pokes fun at students who wear Canada Goose parkas through photos with satirical quotes in the caption.
The idea for the Canada Goose sticker came from a conversation in Oksner’s Principles of Public Relations class, taught by professorial lecturer Frank Maisano, where students were discussing PR nightmares that companies like Canada Goose have faced. They used the example of when PETA condemned the company for mistreating animals and using coyote fur, but customers continue buying the coats.
“What that brand is, is a signal of money, for the most part, because you don’t really need it,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s not necessary.”
As the debate broke out, Oksner noticed someone in her class wearing a Canada Goose jacket indoors and began sketching a redesign of her own. Oksner can be found painting her notes in class, so after the conversation about Canada Goose, she quickly shifted gears to paint her first sticker in about five minutes during a class in the School of Media and Public Affairs.
Oksner based her second sticker, called “No Real Action,” off the NRA logo. These stickers feature an eagle with its wings spread underneath the words “still dying 2018” and “no real action by USA” along the border of the sticker. The proceeds from this sticker will go to Everytown for Gun Safety, a national organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.
The idea for the satirical NRA stickers also originated while she was in class shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Fla. Oksner began painting during class and made two drafts before printing the stickers.
Although most of her sales have been by GW students, she said she has started receiving requests from college students in places like Massachusetts and New York as well.
Stickers are a way for people to represent their beliefs to the public and feel “part of a movement,” she said. She compared the way students embellish their laptops with stickers to the way people in the 1960s flaunted patches and pins that aligned them with causes they supported.
Oksner said that she sees stickers as a way to change people’s perspectives using humor. She said she likes the idea of satire as something that students enjoy while also making social change.
“I think it’s good to laugh at money,” she said. “My friends at other universities at other parts of the country don’t find this sticker as funny as GWU students do, because it just shows money and costuming are a big part of our campus culture.”