Open Sign Project is a team of five women trained by the VCU Brandcenter Master’s in Advertising and Branding program. Our collective skill sets include strategy, copywriting, art direction, and experience design. While we all met a year and a half ago, we only recently bonded over the shared desire to do something meaningful with the skills we’ve been learning during our time in graduate school. And somehow give back to the Richmond community that’s given so much to us.
Inspired by the resilience of local restaurants during the pandemic, and in particular local Black-owned restaurants, we set out to make a calendar. Quarantine started in March 2020, so the March 2021 release date of our calendar is intentional—a nod to the resilience it took to get through the past year, and a celebration of the hope that accompanies a new calendar year.
After the calendar and microsite came together, we expanded from just the Open Sign Calendar to Open Sign Project, because we saw a pattern forming: the use of creative new products to highlight local businesses and benefit local philanthropic organizations. Branding ourselves more broadly as Open Sign Project allows us to house any new products under one single umbrella.
OSP operates on a philanthropic model—choosing which organization(s) to donate to based on the theme of the project or product at hand. The Open Sign Calendar’s theme is “Making Meals Matter,” so choosing RVA Community Fridges is meant to keep everything within the theme of how much food really does make a difference, and especially the lack of it. This philanthropic, product-oriented approach provides Richmonders with new ways to support the businesses, people, and initiatives they care about in a way that feels really approachable.
Our ultimate goal is to communicate the already wonderful things happening in the community to those who may not know about them. We’re just the messengers. The real work is being done every single day by the entrepreneurs and organizations all around you.