Two friends in Atlanta organizing a Black Lives Matter fundraiser were shocked last week when their order from Vistaprint came back with posters reading “All lives matter."
Sania, 23, who asked her last name be removed from this story because she received harassment, received the order last Friday, on Juneteenth. She was filming herself unboxing the prints to help promote the fundraiser when she discovered that behind the Black Lives Matter poster designed by her friend, 33-year-old art director Jessica Noel, were a series of prints that read “All lives matter.”
“I was furious,” Noel told BuzzFeed News Monday. “I just couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it, especially with everything going on. Companies are being very vocal about their stance right now and in being in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, so this felt like very, very clear attempts to undermine our message and undermine the message we’re trying to put out.”
Sania added she was shocked when she opened the package, and then became concerned.
“One of the first thoughts that I had was like, ‘Oh shit,’ like, ‘What? Did I do something wrong? Did I order from a terrible company?’” she told BuzzFeed News during a phone call. “Which is embarrassing. It's not something that I should have had to feel in that moment.”
Sania reached out to Vistaprint after receiving the order. She said while the two people she spoke to Friday were apologetic, they didn’t seem to grasp why she was so upset. Another Vistaprint representative called Sania Monday morning and told her they had investigated the incident and offered an explanation.
According to the company, Vistaprint received an order right after Sania’s for the “All lives matter” posters, which were the same size and same count as the prints that Sania ordered. Because the print orders came back-to-back and at the same size, the company said it accidentally combined part of the second order with Sania’s.
The company said the same in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“When we were contacted by our customer about the issue with her order late last week, we launched an internal investigation over the weekend to diagnose the issue,” Vistaprint spokesperson Adam J. Lawless said in an email. “We received the results of that investigation early this morning and found that it was an error in the automated packaging process which combined two separate customer orders. This is a process that does not include direct employee contact. We have since addressed this packaging issue and have reached out to our customer to explain the mistake while expressing our deepest apologies.”
Lawless also said that Vistaprint “stands behind its support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” and that “while we know mistakes happen, we were particularly saddened by this specific order issue.”
Sania said she was skeptical of the explanation. She immediately called Noel, who said, “I'm calling bullshit.”
“It just feels like some crazy random racist stars had to align for something like that to happen, because the brand is popular,” Noel added. “It's really hard to believe that [happened] immediately after our Black Lives Matter run of prints — immediately after, so close that like they ended up in the same packaging… I just feel really unsatisfied with that.”
Noel said she’s used Vistaprint in the past and never had another order mixed into her own, and while Vistaprint gave Sania a $100 credit, she says now that she doesn’t think she wants to use it. Instead, both women said they plan to find local, hopefully Black-owned businesses to use for their future printing needs.
“It's not where I would like my dollars — especially like my Black lady dollars, my small business dollars — to be going,” Noel said.
And it’s not the first time Vistaprint has included unwanted, hateful prints in an order. In 2018, a gay couple sued the printing company after they opened what they thought was their order of wedding programs and instead discovered flyers with anti-LGBTQ pamphlets saying homosexuality was “Satan’s temptation.”
Because of the 2018 incident, Noel said Monday that their own order including “All lives matter” posters felt less random.
“Now this is something that isn’t a one-off. This isn’t some random event. It felt much more targeted after that, you know, it starts aligning itself with kind of like a message of hate,” she said. “I was really disappointed.”
In spite of the issue with the posters, Sania has been successful in her fundraising. Over the last three weeks, she said she's raised about $5,200, which will be split between the ACLU, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Bailout Fund, the National Bail Fund Network, the Mutual Aid Fund of Metro Atlanta, and TGI Justice.