Ever since we started creating sweet T-shirts way back in 2005, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. We never thought we’d have a brick-and-mortar store, and now we are opening our third. We never thought a hippo at the Zoo would get us exposure on the NBC Nightly News, Time magazine, CNN, to name just a few, and we for sure didn’t think we’d be doing business with 2 prominent Jamaican celebrities.
In January of 2017, we were approached by a gentleman who was getting merch priced out for the reggae artist Shaggy. We won the bid and started to design some tees for him to sling at his concerts. That led us into creating merch to sell on ShaggyOnline.com, which is the singer’s official website. We thought that was pretty awesome but wanted to take it one step further. Every hip-hop artist has their own clothing line that they rep, so we asked, “why don’t we create one for Shaggy? Everyone loves Shaggy!”
It took about 8 months to get off of the ground, but in November of 2017, we launched Raetown.com, which is a Jamaican inspired clothing line based on the sounds and feels of Jamaica. Raetown is the section of Kingston, the Jamaican capital, where dancehall music and reggae were born.
Shaggy was also born there and is still very supportive of his hometown and the Raetown neighborhood. In a way, Raetown is the Cincy Shirts of Kingston.
So far the experience has been both amazing and challenging. It’s given us the ability to gain build a brand from scratch which is amazing. Our design team loves changing from Cincy to Jamaica at the drop of a hat. It’s also been tough because we forgot how hard it is to get something off the ground. We hit the pavement for years setting up at any event we could and passing out cards to strangers.
Our association with “Mr. Luva Luva,” a.k.a. “Mr. Bombastic,” a.k.a. “It Wasn’t Me,” a.k.a. Shaggy, has led us to a partnership with another famous Jamaican, the sprinter, and world record holder Usain Bolt. We were contacted by Bolt’s business partner who is starting a restaurant chain called Tracks & Records. He’s ordered from Shaggy’s website and contacted us because he loves the designs and the quality of the tees. This is still in the early phases, but we are pumped to get this account and excited to see where it goes. Tracks & Records plans to expand to 20 locations in the next 5 years and we plan to be with them along the way.
It really is crazy how a few dudes from Cincinnati all of the sudden have connections to the biggest names in Jamaica right now. Who knows what is next for us? If you would have asked a few years who would have predicted that Cincy Shirts would be doing all this in 2018, we would have responded, “It Wasn’t Me.”