Locals who’ve built massive brands from the sticker craze

30a sticker Locals who’ve built massive brands from the sticker craze
You’ll be surprised to learn that some of your fave stickers are from Birmignham natives. Photo via @hey30a on Instagram

Whether you’re looking to support a cause or incorporate a little fun into your everyday routine, stickers can convey your message loud and clear. We’re spotlighting Birmingham locals who have made it big with their sticker designs, including the man who coined “30A”, the woman behind Bright Blue Dots and how to support Black Warrior Riverkeeper.

Mike Ragsdale ➡️ 30A

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30A’s Mike Ragsdale. Photo via 30A.com

It’s the sticker we’re all familiar with here in Birmingham. We may be a few hours from the beach but the love for 30A reaches far. Cullman native Mike Ragsdale had a unique idea, ran with it and now has distributed over 2.8 million stickers.

” I couldn’t land a job after getting my Masters Degree in Advertising and Public Relations, so to pay the bills, I became an accidental entrepreneur out of pure necessity.”

Founder of 30A Mike Ragsdale

A move down to the beach that started it all

Mike had his taste of corporate America and decided it just wasn’t for him. To be fair, he would listen to Bob Marley, drink Mai Tai’s at Bahama Breeze on 280 and wear Tommy Bahama shirts on casual Fridays in the office. He lived and breathed the beach lifestyle but just wasn’t at the beach yet. He says that moving to 30A was the best thing his family ever did.

After moving his family down to the panhandle of Florida, Mike expected to become a professional writer. To help flex a few creative muscles here and there, he bought 30A.com, inspired by the two-lane 19-mile road that runs along the coast of Florida, to start a blog about his family’s new beach life.

The iconic 30A brand wasn’t intended to become a business or lifestyle brand. It just flourished organically. After becoming unemployed, Mike decided to focus all of his energy on growing the 30A brand and now you see one of those blue stickers on your daily commutes. After teaming up with designer Terry Slaughter, the 30A logo we all know and love came into fruition.

“When I saw Terry’s first draft of the now iconic 30A logo, I thought, ‘What the heck? An 8-year-old could have drawn that!’ And before that thought had even crossed my lips, I realized that was the brilliance of the design. The 30A logo embodies the beach, the sea, family, nostalgia, innocence, simplicity – all without saying a thing.”

The brand’s mission? Don’t worry and be happy!

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Life’s better by the ocean. Photo via 30A.com

Do you know that feeling of complete relaxation and happiness at the beach? That’s the same feeling 30A wants to give you. From the beginning, the brand’s mission was to make people happy by keeping in touch with that “don’t worry, be happy” mentality we all get by the shore.

“Whether they’re listening to 30A Radio, drinking a 30A Beach Blonde Ale, wearing their favorite 30A recycled shirt, watching our daily beach videos, reading an article in our new Beach Happy magazine, or maybe they just see that little blue sticker stuck on the car next to them on their long commute to work. When that happens, I hope they smile, if only for a moment.”

Where to get your hands on 30A merch

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A blue sticker that automatically makes you think of life by the ocean. Photo via 30A’s Facebook

Joellyn Beckham ➡️ Bright Blue Dots

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Joellyn Beckham, creator of the Bright Blue Dot stickers. Photo via Bright Blue Dot

As a Bessemer native who grew up during the 60s and 70s, Joellyn Beckham learned the delicate art of balancing a low profile with the willingness to stand out and up to the crowd when necessary. After graduating from Auburn, she started a career in marketing, advertising, creative services and even dabbled in social media services for political campaigns.

Where did the idea of the bright blue dot come from?

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Blue Dot Sticker. Photo via Bright Blue Dots’ Facebook

About 15 years ago, Joellyn noticed that there were plenty of stickers for the president, but hardly any stickers for people who identify as Democrat. After all, Alabama is a traditionally red state but she saw a need for recognition.

“I was pining for a symbol for the rest of us. Then, over dinner one night, a friend described us a blue dots in a red state. A light came on. I rushed home that evening and began work on a sticker that was the antithesis to the W. Square, yes, but brightly colored, featuring an informal lower case font and bold, simple graphics. Red rigid squares with a single, round (inclusive) blue dot. It read “another bright blue dot in a really red state;” the one word “another” being critical to making Dots feel part of something larger. “

Creator of Bright Blue Dot Stickers Joellyn Beckham

The rest was history. The response that Joellyn’s stickers got showed that citizens wanted their voices to be heard even if they have different viewpoints than the majority. Since her epiphany in 2005, Joellyn has sold thousands upon thousands of blue dot stickers—one of the first orders online being from Alaska.

Who knew a single blue dot could mean so much?

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Blue Dot Sticker. Photo via Bright Blue Dots’ Facebook

The mission of the Blue Dot brand is to raise awareness and bring a sense of belonging to progressives who may feel isolated in a traditionally conservative landscape—whether that’s in traffic, carpool or parking lots. The sticker is purposefully designed to be a subtle symbol rather than a specific political nod towards a single candidate.

“A very common story we hear is that when an individual is being recruited by a company to move to Birmingham from somewhere more progressive, they are often quite nervous. Because they know the history—and have heard the stories—about Alabama—and about Birmingham. Invariably, the recruiters will tell them to be on the lookout for the Blue Dot stickers as they tour town. When the recruit reveals what the stickers mean, a wave of relief almost visibly washes over them. I’ve heard from so may people new to the area that they or their spouses might never have come had it not been for our little stickers. That fills me with joy. And says that what we have here is more than just a simple bumper sticker.”

Where to get your hands on Blue Dot merch

Black Warrior Riverkeeper

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Photo from the Black Warrior Riverkeeper Facebook page

Since 2001, Black Warrior Riverkeeper has protected and restored the Black Warrior River. They are committed to improving public health, recreation and wildlife habitat throughout the vital river basin. Their mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries.

Who’s that guy on the sticker?

The Black Warrior Riverkeeper sticker is their logo and depicts Chief Tushkalusa. Sounds familiar? He’s the namesake of Tuscaloosa. In Choctaw, “tushka” means warrior and “lusa” means black. Bob Griffin at Wolf Creek Creations designed the logo and stickers we see around Birmingham.

“We distribute them to make our name and logo recognizable as possible, as we want everyone to know that we are a resource for anyone who cares about public health, recreation, or wildlife habitat in the Black Warrior River watershed.”

Charles Scribner, Executive Director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper

So what does the sticker stand for?

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A sticker that with one glance shows your support for Alabama’s biodiversity. Photo via Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Rather than selling their stickers, Black Warrior Riverkeeper gives new members a free one.

“For folks who are unaware of our organization, we hope our distinctive logo catches their attention and inspires them to look us up to learn how they can get involved.  For folks who are already aware of us, we hope the logo and stickers will serve as a reminder that we are here to stay for the sake of everyone who lives in or visits the Black Warrior River watershed.”

Where to get your hands on Black Warrior Riverkeeper merch

Other locals helping you get your sticker fix

Trinity United Methodist Church

“Hey, neighbor!”. That’s the message you may see on car magnets around Birmingham. It’s not just Birmingham either. Some locals are starting to spot them in other states. The Trinity United Methodist Church aims to serve Greater Birmingham and help people feel part of a community when worshipping.

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Trinity UMC’s car magnet. Photo via Trinity United Methodist Church’s Facebook

Yellowhammer Creative

Yellowhammer Creative is an eco-friendly design and print studio located in Pepper Place. For all things Birmingham, they’ve got you covered. If you want to show some Magic City Pride, Yellowhammer sells the iconic “It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham” mural sticker.

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It’s nice to have you in Bham! Photo via Yellowhammer Creative

Original B’ham Apparel Co.

It’s the B’ham sticker we all know and love. When I say B’ham, it’s literally the letter “B” and then a ham…like the food. This family-owned business has created a brand that celebrates our city with some of the most unique merch in town.

  • Where: You can find Original B’ham products at Mountain High Outfitters + Alabama Goods + Alabama Outdoors + Ore Mercantile
  • Website | Instagram
  • Price: $2-$5

Good People Brewing Company

Obviously us Birminghamians are familiar with Good People brews. After all, beer is kind of the unofficial “official” drink of The Magic City. But did you know they sold stickers with their logo? Yep, that’s right. You can slap a Good People sticker onto whatever you’d like to rep one of Birmingham’s favorite breweries.

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I have to admit—a Muchacho is calling my name. Photo by Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Birmingham Legion

Whether you’re part of the loyal Magic City Brigade or just enjoy repping a Birmingham team, Birmingham Legion stickers are easy to get your hands on. After all, Legion is the city’s first and only locally owned professional soccer franchise.

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Hammer Down! Photo via Birmingham Legion

What are some of your favorite local stickers to rep? Let us know on social @BhamNow + @now_bham on Twitter.

Chaise Sanders
Chaise Sanders
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