Our Story

“Believe me when I say that Stand Up Speak Up was born out of my anger and frustration. I have so many amazing and generous people in my life but getting them to chat about some of the issues I am passionate about has always been a struggle. We label too many topics as taboo for discussion at the dinner table, or we watch an issue be misrepresented for dramatic effect on television and it becomes uncomfortable to generate conversation that could lead to real change.” 

- Co-Founder, Karla Stephens Tolstoy


I believe that when it comes to real-world change, it all starts with conversation. Whether you’re organizing protests on a local, national or global level or you’re trying to advocate for changes to the products we use, or the way that we live our lives, you first need to get the message out and then try to engage as many people as possible.

And yet, these conversations are not easy to start. Getting people to switch over from meaningless small talk to discussing a serious - and possibly dark - topic can feel like walking up a broken escalator. 

We try to ensure that each of our designs is created with a specific cause in mind; many being created by artists who have lived an experience that has impacted them and are advocating for that issue. You likely have your own causes and it is my mission to support you with imagery to help you start a conversation about the issue you care deeply about.  

We are a brand for the activist in you, who believes that change is possible. And I believe that our designs will help you feel inspired and give you the confidence to start the difficult conversations that will lead to positive change. 

Our art is created to spark hope, generate anger, sadness, understanding, fear, togetherness - the full spectrum of human feelings. But more importantly, these designs are meant to ignite your passion and determination to improve the world and spread the message that change is possible.

Ensure our Products are ethically made. The staff are paid a fair living wage. Our artists are paid for their work.  Give 100% of our profit to foster care reform.

We do not have a warehouse full of product as we are small shop with limited monies to invest in inventory. We are custom every order and print on demand. Currently we pay 80% of our retail price to our supplier and the remainder is our profit.

In our current initiative, 100% of the profits are donated to Child Welfare Political Action Committee. This not-for-profit organization works with government groups, post-secondary institutions and private companies advocating for crown wards and people aging out of the foster care system. Read more about why I choose to be an Ally.

Our past donation initiative we set out to complete 3000 acts of kindness, we accomplished this end of 2019!

Thank you for believing in our store. Every sale counts.

Karla & Zach