Last week, the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman’s card.” Moving on.
That apparently got Adam Smith, the co-creator of the viral-meme sensationTexts from Hillary, thinking:
Is the Clinton campaign selling woman cards yet? Greeting cards, maybe, or a deck of playing cards with famous women on them.
— Adam Smith (@asmith83) April 27, 2016
And that’s where Zach Wahls came in. When he saw Smith’s tweet, he told Business Insider that he had a breakthrough. He didn’t want to sit around and wait for the Clinton campaign to sell cards (though it did).
So he decided to do it himself.
He wrangled his sister – a senior at the University of Iowa graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in painting – to help him createThe Woman Cards, a small Kickstarter campaign. It looked to raise $5,000 for “a deck of playing cards celebrating American women at a time when we are only going to hear the phrase ‘The Woman Card’ used by Donald Trump more and more often.”
The plan: Zach’s sister Zebby would hand draw portraits of 13 exceptional American women to feature in a full 52-card deck (plus two jokers still to be determined). Hillary Clinton was the first pick.
Clinton was the face of the Ace of Hearts because the “ace” denotes “single” or “one,” and the Wahls siblings are placing their bets on her becoming the first female president of the United States.
- The Woman Cards
Filling the shoes of King and Queen in the deck were Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Beyonce, respectively.
- The Woman Cards
- The Woman Card
Dwindling down the list to just 10 other women was the toughest part.
Ultimately, the pair landed on a carefully-curated list of women, thoughtfully assigned to card numbers for very specific reasons. For example, new face of the $20 bill, Harriet Tubman, took the eight-card slot because she served as a “conductor” of the underground railroad for eight years. And Dr. Sally Ride landed on the two-card after journeying to space twice.
What the Wahls didn’t bet on was an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. Just three and half hours after setting the project live on Kickstarter, they had passed their $5,000 goal with 29 days to go. Now, on Day 5, the campaign has raised more than $80,000 and counting.
They’ve even generated global interest, with international order requests coming in from New Zealand, Australia and South Korea.
‘That kid from YouTube’
Zach might seem like just another 24-year-old living in his parents’ Iowa basement. But he’s no stranger to the viral power of the Internet.
Back in 2011, he made major waves after defending same-sex marriage before the Iowa legislature. His parents (the ones with the basement) are lesbians. After writing an article about them for his high-school newspaper, the state invited Wahls to speak before the hearing.
View his speech below:
Quickly dubbed‘that kid from YouTube’ after the video went viral, Zach found himself swept into the heart of political activism. So he withdrew from college to pursue activism full time, going on to write a New York Times bestselling memoir: “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.”
Wahls became a co-founder of Scouts for Equality, an advocacy group lobbying to end LGBT discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America. He still serves on the organization’s board of directors.
So for living in his parents’ basement, it’s been a busy few years for Zach Wahls. And based on the success of “The Woman Cards” project, it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
The Wahls siblings have already picked out their top choices for a second-edition deck: Zach is set on Admiral Grace Hopper, one of the first programmers in computer history, while Zebby is going with Margaret Hamilton, a NASA scientist that developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions.
And they’re taking names, too. Already, over 200 suggestions have poured in, and you can firstname.lastname@example.org you have your own. My personal favorite: Ellen DeGeneres as the joker.