BE NICE, Arkansas! Because Mama Hampo said so
Word of the day: Benefactress
1. A woman who is a benefactor.
A. Benefactor: someone or something that provides help or an advantage; one that confers a benefit.
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Benefactress. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 11, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/benefactress
As a mother to four, local Diana Hampo has used the simple catchphrase "Be nice!" to keep order and moral obligation among her herd. Now, she's spreading the message statewide with the trendy "BE NICE!" logo inside the shape of Arkansas on t-shirts, face masks and decals.
"The whole idea started when the pandemic came, and no one was being nice to one another. ... We somehow forgot common courtesy, and just to be nice," Hampo said.
"I thought by putting the message in front of people visually it would remind their brains just to be nice. Nice is always an option. You can give people bad news, you can say no, but you can do it in a nice way."
Hampo's journey began with creating decals of the phrase just for her family. A few years and one pandemic later, her children gave her the idea to spread the message further and start printing it on t-shirts*. Low and behold, she said, stores wanted to carry her product.
The first shirt Hampo sold was a classic t-shirt with the "BE NICE!" logo stamped on its top left. It went over so well she started to use her platform to spread more of a "BE NICE!" message. For her next shirt, she teamed up with local artist RayShaun McNary to create a shirt that represents the civil rights movement from 1968 to 2020, but to keep the message consistent, "BE NICE!" remained printed on the sleeve.
The limited edition "Rise" light gray t-shirt was released after the killing of George Flyod; a Black Minneapolis, Indiana man murdered by then-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The murder sparked civil rights movements nationwide.
"That one kind of blew up on us in a wonderful way," Hampo said.
The next and most recent "BE NICE!" shirt released was the "Extraordinary Artists from Arkansas" t-shirt. With the help of Stephen Koch, who has the syndicated radio show ArkanSongs**, the shirt showcases the many artists who have come from Arkansas by placing their names in the shape of the state***.
"I've always been astonished at the number of influential musicians that come from Arkansas," Hampo said. "It's crazy for such a little state."
Now with three different designs spreading the same message on her shirts, a diverse group of people statewide can be found wearing "BE NICE!" attire — from teenagers to MMA Fighters, because it applies to everyone.
"For a long time I've been a big fan, and maybe kind of a team mom, to a group of MMA fighters here in town, because they're some of the nicest guys I know," Hampo said, adding that the fighters from Off the Chain MMA have branded their shorts with her logo. She said it's ironic, but they are some of the finest human beings she has ever known.
"They're going to beat you to the ground, but then they're going to help you up and be nice," Hampo said.
To purchase "BE NICE!" merchandise for yourself or inquire about wholesale buying for your store, visit https://www.benicearkansas.com. Every shirt sale donates 50 cents to the Arkansas Food Bank.
Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves to be nice, it doesn't always come naturally, so if you can be nice and lift up other people it will make you feel better. It makes us all feel better.
*"BE NICE!" t-shirts are locally printed at Gear Factory.
**More information on the radio show can be found at arkansongs.org.
*** A a dollar from each "Extraordinary Artists from Arkansas" t-shirt sale goes to ArkanSongs.