‘You really just need to be human’

When the founders of LifeCulture Apparel sit down to talk business, it feels more like a family dinner than a staff meeting.

That’s not surprising, since the pro-life clothing business by siblings Ian, Aidan, Sophia and Alyssa Cunningham was started during a New Year’s Day brainstorming session at the local Olive Garden.

“You should see our group business chats,” chuckled Ian, the 24-year-old business developer of the quartet, and the oldest of the four siblings. “It just evolves into all caps and emojis half the time.”

Don’t be fooled by the Cunningham’s lightheartedness — they also possess loads of grit and determination. It was only a handful of months after their New Year’s Italian feast that they launched their clothing line.

A family’s values

Born and raised in Columbia, Maryland, and schooled at home, the kids remember going often to pro-life events such as the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and praying outside abortion clinics with their mother. The lessons learned in their childhood have stuck with them through the years and now fire their passion for the cause, one they feel everyone should be able to relate to.

“I think this movement needs to be a big umbrella. I think that you don’t need to be a Christian to be pro-life, you really just need to be human,” explained Ian. “And I think that’s how the world should view this issue.”

Eighteen-year-old Alyssa, LifeCulture’s artist, said that her drawings are meant to showcase “positive messages, and designs.

“We want it to be more about ‘pro-life’ than ‘anti-woman’ or ‘anti-abortion,’” she said.

Each piece of art is drawn meticulously by hand before being converted to a digital file for T-shirt printing. Ian first realized Alyssa’s design potential when he stumbled upon his younger sister’s artwork on a public Instagram account that had garnered thousands of followers. He was surprised to see how positive people were about her drawings — until she posted a pro-life-themed piece. Her Instagram post became cluttered with people accusing her of “being anti-woman” and ignorant. Big brother Ian was impressed by how his sister took the time to kindly and thoroughly defend those who can’t defend themselves to her critics. 

“It’s a position based on respect for human life, and not one of hate or intolerance,” Ian told Our Sunday Visitor. “I was really inspired to see her care so much. And I knew that her artwork was popular with people, so it might be possible to take it to another level.”

The family team decided the best vehicle for taking their message to the next level would be via T-shirts.

“The only people who are going to see [our artwork online] are the people who are already looking at pro-life pages,” said Sophia, 16, who manages customer relations and social media. “If we could have people actually wearing artwork, [the shirts] would go wherever they were going normally and a lot more people would get to see.”

Proliferating messages

In addition to customer relations, Sophia is working on a hashtag campaign “#LifeCultureFam” for those who purchase the shirts, to raise awareness and give a fun community feel to their products. Since their September launch, the siblings have sold almost 400 shirts, working closely with vendors until they found the perfect product for Alyssa’s hand-drawn designs. Brother Aidan, 20, helps maintain the website and works with their charity partner, Talk About Adoption.

Callie Jett, the founder of Talk About Adoption, is a birth mom who placed her child for adoption, and consequently founded the organization three years ago for other parents who may be struggling to make a pro-life choice. She is thrilled with the creativity of the Cunningham family and encourages them to keep “trucking along” even when the inevitable financial challenges come their way.

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“There’s a lot of times you’re going to want to quit, but keep your focus on your goals and your mission and keep moving forward,” she advised.

The siblings hope to continue their success by traveling around to different pro-life events, perhaps even becoming speakers for the cause. They plan on being present for the 2017 youth rally at the March for Life in D.C. and hanging out with Students for Life before the rally.

“The past few years, I’ve seen other people’s experiences going through abortions and even going through not having an abortion and seeing the differences between the joy that comes from one and the pain that comes from another,” said Sophia. “It’s been a huge impact on my life.”

But ultimately, it’s not about money or fame for these four. It’s about advancing the conversation on behalf of the unborn.

“Someone could see one of our shirts, and it could start a conversation with whoever was wearing it,” explained Sophia. “If we could just change one person’s mind, it would all be worth it, if we could save one life.”

All of their products are available on the website they built and maintain themselves — lifecultureapparel.com.

Mariann Hughes writes from Maryland.