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There's a First for Everything: The Process Behind BLK&TAN

  • By Kristina Cagney

There's a First for Everything: The Process Behind BLK&TAN

This may be one of, if not the, most anticipated collection that Doughnuts & Deadlifts has released to date. And it’s almost here… BLK&TAN! A tribute to not only my favorite colorway, but also what was once my favorite beverage (well... it still is, I just refrain now because #SoberSally). For those of you unfamiliar, a Black & Tan is a beer cocktail made by layering the greatest nectar in the known universe, Guinness Stout, on top of pale ale. I refuse to get into an argument over physics of this bevvie... BUT, if you make a B&T with any stout other than Guinness, you are wrong.

I digress…

Up until recently, Doughnuts & Deadlifts’ creative endeavors have never really involved cohesive collections nor collaborative efforts. Sure, we have done fun retro collections here and there, but for the most part, we can all agree that DNDL is random AF. Historically, I’ve just decided what my favorite colors are on any given month, picked out some blank tees, then slapped logos on them with no rhyme or reason. Business 101 with KMC: Never Have A Plan. Not even if there is a fire.

While we stumbled our way to success for almost three years, I have finally graduated to formulating actual plans for my very large apparel company! (Can you imagine?!) Upon launching PERFORM, I realized how fun and rewarding the process of developing a collection is, from concept to completion. Anyone can point to blanks and tell a screen printer what color to slap on it. But it takes more forethought, creativity, and most importantly collaboration, to continuously create cohesive collections month after month, and year after year.


This time last year, DNDL was a two [wo]man operation. Chlo was the muscle, I was the mind. I handled most of the design work and whatever semblance of planning we did back then, and she made sure I didn’t buy a pet elephant with company money. We did a pretty alright job with running the business just us two, seeing as we now employ ten people. Mind you, ten VERY creative, passionate people who are each an asset to my business and my brand.

After seeing what we could do with the inaugural PERFORM collection, I knew DNDL would need a new plan and new structure. So, for the first time ever, I gathered my team around to design and plan this collection together. They were over the moon with excitement; they know just how significant it is for me to invite them into my mind as I contemplate designs and apparel concepts. The team sat down with no plan at all whatsoever (in typical DNDL fashion) and got to work. During this meeting, I gave them the rundown on fabric blends and blank suppliers, and talked endlessly about Pantones. If you know me at all, you know how much joy this brought me. #AintNoPartyLikeAPantoneParty [Editor’s note: Another thing to know about Krissy is she loves cracking lame jokes.]

I will never share the details of what goes on in my mind or in a DNDL meeting (they don’t call them trade secrets for nothing), but I will tell you this: few things are more special in this world than the creative process, and the only thing better is creating with a talented team by your side. And that is what we did. Once we settled on the BLK&TAN concept, we all pitched in. Cuts, colors, pieces, styles, logo placement-- every single one of us was bouncing ideas off of one another, while Ben got to work in Adobe Illustrator and mocked up the ideas as they developed.

After 90 minutes of back and forth brainstorming, the collection was born. Twelve pieces to complete this very simple and sophisticated line. DNDL apparel has a reputation for being visually “loud” due to the bright colors and charismatic branding. So I am eager to show you all a very different side of us now, and throughout 2018, as my (and our) creative juices are flowing like never before. Sometimes simpler is better.


But wait, it gets better. Not only is this the first collection we have ever delivered that was collaboratively designed, but it’s also the first full collection that we have created 100% in house from start to finish. From designing the mockups, to receiving the blanks, cutting the tags, burning the screens, loading the plattens, printing the apparel, drying the prints, folding and bagging the items, and shipping your orders off to you. We did it all. Thus it occupies a special little place in my heart. We hope you love it, and you can expect plenty more in the coming year.
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