2020 Year in Review: Adversity, Perseverance, and Celebration!

As we approached the 20th anniversary of Threadless, 2020 initially looked like it was going to be a year of celebration. For many of us, it was more like a punch to the gut. The type of cruel knuckle sandwich that would send Paul Bunyun crumbling to his knees. But if the year’s onslaught of events taught us anything, it’s that we’re all resilient in the face of adversity. The entire Threadless community came together—albeit virtually—to pick each other up and find ways to better serve those in need. We’re incredibly grateful for everyone, from our amazing artists to our supporters. We can’t thank you all enough.

Last year taught us that we should savor good news whenever we get it. Contrary to popular belief, there actually was some good news in 2020. From the milestones of Threadless Causes to the significant growth of our artist community, let’s take a look back at the highlights that defined a year of unpredictability, perseverance, and togetherness in isolation.

How We Addressed the Elephant in the Room: COVID-19

Make no mistake, the coronavirus pandemic had a devastating impact on the entire world in 2020. It confined people to their homes, it shuttered many businesses, and most alarmingly, it is still a serious threat to everyone’s health. With recommended CDC and WHO guidelines on our minds, we wanted to make sure we did our part to help stop the spread and support those whose lives were impacted by the virus. Here are some of the actions we took.

We Transitioned to a Fully Remote Company

For the health and safety of our staff, we made the decision back in March to close our headquarters in downtown Chicago and shift to an entirely remote operation. Although we’ve traded in water-cooler chats for video conferencing, this necessary change has eliminated work commutes and allowed our employees to work from wherever they feel most safe and comfortable.

Threadless staff celebrating the holidays via Zoom.
Threadless staff celebrating the holidays via Zoom.

We Gave Support to Our Global Community of Artists

We recognized that many of our artists have multiple sources of income that may have been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. To help them recover some of their lost income during this critical time, we launched our Community Action Plan. Depending on the products sold, this helped increase our artists’ earnings between 60% and 100%!

We Launched Face Masks Benefiting MedShare

In addition to social distancing and washing our hands regularly, we can all help prevent spreading the virus by wearing a cloth face covering in public. Plus, it’s still recommended by the CDC. In 2020, we not only launched four styles of face masks, but also donated a portion of the net proceeds to MedShare, starting with a goal of $100,000. Through the sale of our face masks, we collectively raised more than $500,000! To get a better understanding of how these funds translate to meaningful action in the real world, read the following message from MedShare:

The Arrival of Threadless Causes: Using Your Purchasing Power for Good

After launching fundraising campaigns for MedShare and the fight against racial injustice, we were floored by how ready and willing the entire Threadless community was to rally around important causes. It is truly inspiring to see, especially in a turbulent year that will be remembered for a global pandemic, natural disasters, and civil unrest. We decided to harness our community’s positive energy to create a new fundraising initiative for our artists—Threadless Causes! With your help, Threadless Causes has donated nearly $800,000 to more than 25 charities in 2020!

Causes You Can Support Today

The following list is only the beginning. We continuously add Causes thanks to the great input from our community. We will also be matching collective donations up to $100,000.

  • Racial Injustice: These designs directly benefit organizations fighting for racial equality in an effort to eradicate systemic racism.
  • Mental Health Awareness: This collection supports charities providing mental-health services to underserved communities around the world.
  • Suicide Prevention: These designs raise money for organizations that provide suicide education and essential preventative resources to individuals and families.
  • Humanitarian Aid: Organizations associated with this Cause deliver medical supplies, food, and other forms of relief to communities in need around the world.
  • Pride / LGBTQIA+: This Cause helps to ensure every member of LGBTQIA+ communities has equal rights and the resources they need to not only survive, but thrive.
  • Human Rights: Every purchase made from this Cause benefits organizations fighting to protect basic human rights for people all around the world.
“Worth Living For” Sticker by Abby Armour Letter, “Black Lives Matter” Face Mask by Design Obsess with Vaness, and “The Right Message” Men’s T-Shirt by YANMOS
“Worth Living For” Sticker by Abby Armour Letter, “Black Lives Matter” Face Mask by Design Obsess with Vaness, and “The Right Message” Men’s T-Shirt by YANMOS

The Most Sold Design of 2020: Shing Yin Khor’s “Four Seasons Total Landscaping”

Throughout President Donald Trump’s time in office, Los Angeles–based artist Shing Yin Khor made it a daily routine to make activist and protest art. But things took a surprising turn when they created a design that quickly became one of the bestsellers in Threadless history. Poking fun at a logistical mishap by the Trump campaign, “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” features the furry, bug-eyed mascot Gritty riding a lawn mower. Read more about the origin story of Shing’s design here.

“Four Seasons Total Landscaping” Men’s Ringer T-Shirt and Tote Bag by Shing Yin Khor
“Four Seasons Total Landscaping” Men’s Ringer T-Shirt and Tote Bag by Shing Yin Khor

In an enormous act of generosity, Shing decided to donate all of their proceeds from the wildly popular design. So far, their design has raised more than $170K for BIPOC voting rights organizations! A portion of the proceeds also went to the campaigns of Georgia Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. And to top it all off, The View featured the design as one of Joy Behar’s Favorite Things Under $50:

Your Impact on the Artist Community in 2020

We have the proof. You love art. In 2020 alone, you purchased designs from more than 30,000 Threadless artists! Our artist community is made up of thousands of creative minds running their own small businesses around the world. Their eclectic and captivating art is what keeps Threadless venturing into uncharted realms of imagination. Here’s how your purchases helped support small businesses in 2020:

  • Supported 33,262 artists
  • Acquired 680,000 unique pieces of art
  • Helped artists earn over $8.3M USD to date
  • Liked artists and their designs 2,050,121 times on social media
  • Purchased art made by artists from 133 different countries

Don’t think your support goes unnoticed. Here is what Kristen Liu-Wong has to say about her experience as a Threadless artist:

“It’s really cool to see someone wearing your stuff and feeling themselves. It feels good seeing someone feeling good in something that you made.”

Kristen Liu-Wong

Awesome New Products We Launched in 2020

We’re always exploring new and innovative ways to display our artist community’s incredible designs on apparel, accessories, and home decor. In 2020, our product catalog grew significantly, giving you even MORE opportunities to wear and showcase your favorite art! Follow the links below to learn more about these new products.

Face Masks (Ultra Premium, Premium, Regular, and Youth)


Ringer T-Shirts

Neck Gaiters

Greeting Cards

Hats (New and Improved!)

Bucketfeet (Now Exclusively Available on Threadless and in Artist Shops)

That’s a wrap for 2020! Again, we want to thank you for supporting Threadless and our artist community throughout a year that was rough to say the least, but still full of hope for the future. Let’s all rise like a phoenix from the dumpster fire that was 2020! We’re excited for what 2021 brings and can’t want to showcase all of the new art our community is already making!

The design featured at the top of this post is “The Big Tee” by thepapercrane.

CategoriesFun Stuff News
Rafael Velez

Copywriter at Threadless. Lover of thin-crust pizza, heavy metal, and B horror movies. Food source for a husky and two cats.