NEW YORK — What started out as a hobby of designing satirical baseball caps has snowballed into a passion project for Jeronimo Saldana.
He, like many Americans, watched from the sidelines as election season got underway.
Listening to the rhetoric being flung from both sides, Saldana — who is of Mexican descent — decided to take action, zeroing in on GOP candidate Donald Trump.
“I think in his first campaign speech when he said Mexico isn’t sending their best – they’re sending rapists and thieves,” Saldana told PIX11 News. “That’s when I knew he needed to be stopped.”
It was from that moment on where the Brooklyn-based activist made it his goal to change the conversation, using the hats to shed light on what he calls hate speech.
He even launched a GoFundMe page where he asked for a modest $25 to help make a prototype.
“I didn’t think anybody was going to donate money to make a bunch of hats and I ended up with $14,000 in two weeks,” he said. “So I had to figure it out.”
Figuring it out involved keeping tabs with every Trump one-liner that made waves.
“I think Twitter is a good advocate, a good judge,” he said. “When I saw 'taco trucks on every corner' trending worldwide I knew that was a thing.”
The quote refers to the infamous claim made by Trump supporter Marco Gutierrez during an MSNBC interview where he warned if action wasn’t taken on illegal immigrants soon, “you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner."
Another hat-making caption came compliments of Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
“When I saw ‘Whip out that Mexican thing again’ that Governor Pence said, it was just beautiful — it was a gold mine,” he said.
Those who tuned into Wednesday’s final presidential debate saw Trump himself deliver Saldana’s latest creation.
“We have some bad hombres here and we’re gonna get them out,” Trump said, referring to his plan on immigration.
“It’s the only time he used Spanish and he uses Spanish to insult people of Latin American decent,” Saldana said. “So that’s a hat that needs to be made today.”
And it was.
Trump-inspired satirical caps aren’t alone when it comes to must-have election merch.
Hillary Clinton’s now-infamous “basket of deplorables” one-liner has served as an ongoing theme in merchandise popular among her critics.
The merchandise offers two very different messages with one common thread, as Saldana explains.
“If I can facilitate someone who’s probably an introvert but still wants to stand up to hate by wearing a funny hat, then it's my job to help them out," Saldana said.
100% of the proceeds raised by the satirical hats are donated to Mi Jente, an organization that organizes and mobilizes local communities against hate.
To purchase a hat, visit Saldana’s Esty page.