About DJTees T-shirts that Rock!

I'm 62. I don't know how. Last time I looked it was 1987. In November 2023 I had a stroke which has affected my walking and disabled my left hand. It's a drag, but it hasn't stopped me rockin'. In fact rock music and the spirit it embodies has inspired to heal.

My whole life has been infused with rock music. I'm a vinyl collector with a 10,000+ collection of albums and 3500+ collectible 7" & 12" singles. This week alone, another 6 albums have been added to the collection, 2 x 12" singles and 5 7" Singles. It never stops. It never will. I bloody love it. It's been like this since I was 13.

In 2002 me and my missus of now 43 years, Dawn, set up DJTees. Back then no-one sold rock t-shirts that were not black and XL. They came in big boxes of 72 and were screen-printed as stock to hold. That seemed clunky and inflexible to us. Tying all your money up in stock that might never sell looked an inefficient and outmoded way to do business. It meant you couldn't do niche stuff and we loved the niche stuff best of all. So we worked out a way to print everything to order, then you only needed to hold stock of plain t-shirts. 

From day one, we realised that we'd only manage to make a living by selling small (and I do mean small. 5 is a hit for us 10 a very, very big hit) amounts of hundreds of different designs and even all these years later, that still holds true. Our best seller in 2022 was the Whistle Test shirt. It sold 17. Many designs never even sell, probably because we have so few visitors.

We decided giving people a choice of size and colour would be a good idea too, as would having women's tees as an option (though very few buy them) We didn't know at the time we were inventing the future, but now, nearly 20 years on, its how the whole industry operates. 

We then hooked up with great rock photographers so we could get photos to base t-shirt designs on. 

For 10 years we rocked it.

Then in 2012 we sold DJTees to pursue our writing and art careers. I've since written 17 novels and 3 non-fiction books about football, two of which were long-listed for Sports Books of the Year prizes. I didn't win (boo!). I was also short-listed for Football Writer Of The Year (I didn't win. Again) Dawn has become an artist of some reputation selling monotypes to art lovers all over the world.  

But on 15th Feb 2018, we took control and ownership of DJTees again, climbed back into the managerial chair and started to do things our way. There had been problems with printing and supply, so we set about correcting those and getting the whole operation lean and efficient once again. Today, though only a tiny, part-time business, its the best its ever been and I don't say that lightly.

We redesigned the website and Dawn is back designing new t-shirts each week and I'm in charge of admin and celebrating classic rock and writing about it. While the whole operation is tiny, it is more focused and direct. If you write to me, I write back. There's no hiding behind corporate-speak and none of the other ways that companies have to keep the public at bay. It's just me. I sort everything out. If it goes right or wrong, I get all the glory or heartache.

It's true that we don't sell much of anything, and we don't even get much traffic to be honest, just a few hundred people per day, but I don't mind. That's not the point. This isn't big business. We know we're very niche and we like it. The point is to share the love of the music with people who love it too; to celebrate the sounds of our lives.

I think we are one of the few online businesses that's customer base average age is over 60-years-old, though most feel they're still 21. I know I do. We are the classic rock generation and our musical culture is often ignored, but we're here to balance that out in our own small way.

This is a simple wee business based around our collective love of music and the culture that surrounded it. This isn't just a marketing thing, it's a life-long passion, as having over 10,000 albums probably proves.

I hope you'll read some of my blogs, especially on the history of festivals in UK, Europe and USA, they document a time now long gone, the victories and losses of the counterculture. 

When we started in 2002, we used hand-weeded, single-colour digitally cut vinyl, these days everything is printed using huge state-of-the-art Kornit DTG (direct-to-garment) printers. These massive machines cost our printers a small fortune but allow beautiful bright & sharp full colour prints. 

So now, until we die, the old team is in charge. Dawn's brilliant design talent. Me with my classic rock giant brain. Somewhere along the way, I hope we can do something you like, but if we don't, hey, that's fine too. Thanks for just being here, however briefly.

Cheers, Johnny

March 2024

None of our t-shirts are endorsed by the musicians or bands and we've never pretended they are.

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