By Kelly Sheppard / Starbucks Newsroom
Creating chalkboard signage is a partner tradition at Starbucks. The company has showcased hand-drawn chalk signs to highlight coffee and food options since the company was founded in 1971. This week, partners across North America are using their artistic talents to highlight the Cups of Kindness beverage collection as part of Starbucks partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.
“Starbucks is a highly creative company and we find that many of our partners have skills to support this work,” said Lara Behnert, Starbucks senior creative manager, Art Programs. “Those who are inclined to make signage often self-identify and find this work gratifying.”
The colorful chalkboards share details of a special campaign running now through June 19. During this time, Starbucks will donate 25 cents from each one of its Cups of Kindness beverages sold at participating Starbucks® stores in the United States and Canada to Born This Way Foundation. Funds raised will go toward programs that support youth wellness and empowerment by fostering kindness, improving mental health resources and creating more positive environments.
Below, six partners share their thoughts about creating chalkboard designs currently featured in Starbucks® stores.
Elise Letnaunchyn, shift supervisor, Hinesville, Ga.
“I do art as a hobby. I volunteered to do the first chalkboard design at my store and after that I just continued to be the one who did them. Lady Gaga is unique and expresses her artistry in her edgy style within her music, so I wanted my chalkboard sign to reflect that. I love Lady Gaga and what she stands for. I was really excited to know Starbucks was partnering up with her foundation, which inspires people and myself to live without fear and judgment.”
Derek Gaona, barista, Fountain Valley, Calif.
“The process of making my chalk sign was so much fun. I did the piece freehand. I just had images and ideas started flowing. It made me feel really wonderful to express this talent and the partnership with Lady Gaga to everyone. I love seeing people appreciate and value art. I like to give them joy through my work.”
Castell Gordon, barista, Baltimore, Md.
“I’ve always been creative. It has been a core part of my environment from the very beginning. I’m now studying architecture at Morgan State University. Before I created my chalk sign, I did a little research on Lady Gaga and saw a portrait of her with xoxo shades. I thought it would be cool to let her personality shine through by using her face as the frame for the art and the message. I can’t fully express how proud I am of Starbucks for partnering with Lady Gaga for such a worthy cause. In these times that we find ourselves, Cups of Kindness couldn’t be more relevant and I feel so blessed to be able to use the gift of art to draw awareness to the cause of love.”
Shelly Wassmer, shift supervisor, Marion, IA
“I’m a self-trained artist. I was inspired by my father who was a fantastic artist. Both my daughters draw well and helped to critique my chalk art. I chose to make Lady Gaga’s hair with rainbow colors as a complement to the Cups of Kindness drinks and to so many baristas I’ve worked with who color their hair and are not afraid to show who they really are and what they like. I love working with young kids, seeing them grow and excel in their work, school and life, while also being polite and accepting people for who they are. Born This Way is an excellent foundation and I’m pleased to be a part of this event.”
Hunger Garrison, barista, Kenosha, Wis.
“I have volunteered to create chalkboard signs since I started working at Starbucks nearly two years ago. I love art so much, so the signs are a way of expressing my creativity. Lady Gaga has always been an idol for me as she really stands for everyone to spread and show love, tolerance and acceptance no matter how different you are. Making something that represents Lady Gaga and the Born This Way Foundation is my way of sending their positive message along to the community. I couldn’t be happier to have created the sign for this launch.”
Kacie Escamilla, barista, Frederick, Md.
“It took me about 30 minutes to complete my chalkboard signage because I’m very tedious about lettering. I volunteered to create the sign – I’m usually the one who does the chalkboard signage for my store. I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga and I feel great that I was able to create this signage. I’m proud of Starbucks for putting the Born This Way Foundation in the spotlight and showing that they support the improvement of young people’s mental health and building a kinder environment in the world. That really makes me filled with joy and I think that happiness translated to my chalkboard sign.”