Chances are, you’ve seen the “Keep Dayton Funky” t-shirt around town. But what’s the story behind it?
With fans from all over Dayton and beyond – including Mayor Nan Whaley – Slim x Dude Tee House has definitely made a splash, despite being relatively new on the scene.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Jordan Hockett and Duane Myers, the creative dudes behind Slim x Dude Tee House. We shared some fantastic pizza at Old Scratch and talked all about their brand and their mission to celebrate Dayton.
How did you decide on your name Slim x Dude Tee House?
Jordan: Duane started calling me Slim because I’m skinny and always cold.
Duane: And I’ve been blogging for years under the name Preppy Dude, so we decided to combine the two names.
Describe your process for creating your designs. Are they the result of sudden inspiration, or careful planning?
Jordan: Sudden inspiration, and then we sort of bounce the ideas off of our friends and our wives, who are both really creative as well. Then we create a mock-up of what we want the design to look like and have our graphic designer, Jess Robb, clean it up. We show our friends the final design and let them be our focus group.
Duane: We also keep it local – our designs are created locally, and printed locally. It’s important to collaborate with local creators like our photographer Ronald Applin, because it’s not about ego; when we’re true to our vision it’s better for all of us.
Where does your inspiration come from generally?
Duane: For me it’s from living so many places and seeing how other communities celebrate themselves.
Jordan: My inspiration is random and from various sources: Instagram, other brands, current events, art, quotes, things I see throughout my days from cruising the web to my commute to and from work, and more
What inspired you guys to start a t-shirt company?
Jordan: I really liked what Homage was doing in Columbus – and they had a few Dayton designs, but mostly related to Dayton basketball. I wanted to see more Dayton-related designs but there weren’t a lot out there. So I thought, why not start my own t-shirt brand? and started thinking of some designs. I was also inspired by [well-known t-shirt entrepreneur] Johnny Cupcakes.
Duane: Having moved to Dayton, I still have an outsider’s perspective of the city. When people are negative about Dayton, I don’t think they realize all that we have here. Jordan and I met on Twitter and started talking about Dayton and this t-shirt business and decided to go into business together, designing shirts that show what Dayton is all about.
What do you feel is the message of your company?
Duane: I think it’s to bring back Dayton’s swag, especially by celebrating all of Dayton. Too many things in Dayton seem to be received by only the white community or only the black community, but we want to help bridge these two communities and highlight all of the great things happening here.
What’s your favorite design and why?
Jordan: “Keep Dayton Funky,” because so far it’s our only two-sided shirt and I really love the concept of sayings like “Keep Austin Weird.” I think “Keep Dayton Funky” has the potential to be a unifying message for all of Dayton. It’s representative of Dayton’s energy. I also love the first 937 shirt we designed because it’s so creative.
Duane: I would also say “Keep Dayton Funky” because funk music was a big part of my childhood, and not a lot of people know about Dayton’s contribution to music – funk music in particular. So our shirt is sort of “edutainment,” if you will. Also, I really like the #Resist design because it came together so perfectly. The design is clean, without any ancillary garbage, so the message doesn’t get lost.
Where can people find your shirts?
Duane: We’ll have a brand new website debuting soon where people will be able to buy all of our designs.
So what’s next for Slim x Dude Tee House?
Jordan: We’ll have some new items like wall art, stickers, pins, cards, and more. We’re also going to be getting more involved in charity projects like our March Madness bracket challenge.
Duane: Our website will be coming out soon as well and we want to create a whole user experience, so in addition to selling our items, we’ll also have a blog with contributors sharing many different perspectives.
All photos courtesy of Slim x Dude Tee House. Photo credit: Ronald Applin (unless otherwise noted).