Design // shirts&words, a brand of trendy Curaçao T-shirts
Designing a brand of fashionable, good quality Curaçao wearables and accessories printed with words in Papiamentu.
shirts&words // from 2008 – 2012
Make a fashion statement in Papiamentu!
The concept of shirts&words was initiated in 2007 by copywriter Susanne van Sambeeck. She came up with the idea to print Papiamentu words on stylish souvenir t-shirts. Due to disappointing sales she halted the concept by the end of that year. Since the concept matched with my vision and mission, I agreed with Susanne to allow the concept a second chance. Read the full background story
Curaçao souvenir T-shirts // 2008 – 2010
Simply devoted to Curaçao
shirts&words strived to provide trendy, exclusive, colourful Curaçao T-shirts featuring striking, funny text prints in Papiamentu. Ideal as a lovely memento or an original gift from Curaçao. The t-shirts were screenprinted by Grafitex in Curaçao.
Simply devoted to you: To make you feel Rilèks, do Hopi Great and look Dushi.
Strategic goal // Increasing public awareness of the value and beauty of Curaçao and its local Papiamentu language to both locals and tourists by selling stylish shirts and baby onesies printed with words in Papiamentu.
Charity in Curaçao // shirts&words set aside Nafl 1,00 per product sold to assisted Curaçao based non-profit organisations that aimed to get Curaçao youth to work out on a regular basis. From 2010 – 2012 shirts&words sponsored the t-shirts of a youth football team Orguyo FC in Brievengat.
shirts&words grew too big for me
It was somewhere in 2012 that I realised I am a designer and not a manager. Managing a brand like shirts&words was too much. I was more than happy to sell the concept of shirts&words. When I started with shirts&words back in 2008, I had a dream: one day shirts&words would have its own store. That one day came when the new owners opened their shirts&words store at Curaçao Boulevard.
Portfolio 2010 – 2012 // shirts&words, a trendy apparel brand from Curaçao
Upgrading brand shirts&words
A6 flyers to promote shirt&words // 2011
How to keep your shirts&words t-shirt looking hopi great & dushi
Wash your shirts&words t-shirt before wearing first time. Place in salt water or cold water with a cup of white vinegar. Gentle wash cycle at 30 degrees. Separate colours from whites. Do not use bleach or dryer. Turn the shirt inside out before ironing, best when slightly damp, do not iron the imprint.
Campaign // shirt&words model 2012
Apparel hang tags // 2011
Advertisement in Dushi Magazine // 2012
Postcards shirt&words // 2012
Portfolio 2008 – 2010 // shirts&words, a souvenir T-shirt from Curaçao
Creating brand awareness
Shirt sponsor FKP football tournament // 2010
shirts&words in the media // 2009 – 2010
Campaign FIFA World Cup 2010
Win a special edition shirt during FIFA World Cup 2010 by predicting the correct number of goals scored by the Dutch team.
Campaign // shirts&words promotion tour // 2010
Memento Vivi interns Marieke (photography) & Leonise (social media) did a marvellous job in 2010 when they organised a campaign to promote the shirts&words t-shirts in Curaçao.
Campaign // Win a PSP with your shirts&words T-shirt // 2010
Background story of shirts&words
You have seen the world and you know: there is no place better than Dushi Kòrsou
The concept of shirts&words was initiated in 2007 by copywriter Susanne van Sambeeck. She had planned to bring along some Curaçao souvenirs but wasn’t impressed by the oversized, traditional style of souvenir t-shirts. Sensing a gap in the market, she pondered the idea to come up with a trendier souvenir t-shirt to promote the Caribbean island in a more innovative way. Some brainstorming sparked the concept of using meaningful Papiamentu (the Curaçao local language) words to be printed on slim fit t-shirts.
Initially Susanne selected the words: Kayente (hot), Yu di Kòrsou (child of Curaçao), Stimabo (love you), Dushi (sweet), Kumbai (how are you), Hopi Bon (very well), Ayo Kòrsou (bye bye Curaçao), Trankil (chill), Konta (how are you), Rilèks (relax) and Pssst (well, use your imagination…).
Susanne approached me to assist her in the branding of the product and the label styling. As of June 2007 sales started through my web shop books.an. Feedback was positive but orders only trickled in. Due to disappointing sales she halted the concept by the end of that same year.
Dushi, dushi, dushi
Since the concept matched with my vision and mission, I agreed with Susanne to allow the concept a second chance. The first collection taught Dushi to be the word that best expressed the feeling people had for Curaçao. It is the only word in Papiamentu that was perceived positively by anyone feeling a connection with Curaçao. The word Dushi, literally meaning sweet, is used to describe anything wonderful. The weather is always ‘Dushi’ in Curacao, a good meal is ‘Dushi’, a beautiful woman is a ‘Dushi’… Needless to say, staying or living in Curaçao is simply ‘Dushi’.
Finding a point of sale
In April 2008 I managed to convince a shop owner to add the shirts&words shirts printed with Dushi to her collection. Sales started out slowly, but after the collection had sold out, customers continued to ask when new shirts would become available.
Following demands and customer inquiries, I expanded the collection and introduced baby onesies, kids t-shirts, ladies tank tops, and men shirts in various colours. Other shops started selling the shirts as well. A new, local Curaçao brand had been born.
Dealing with competition
The increased competition inspired me to rethink my vision and goals in 2010. I was unhappy with the quality of the t-shirts and started looking for a better supplier. Thanks to Susanne I met a Dutch supplier of good quality 100% organic cotton and eco-friendly dyed t-shirts. The first shirts&words organics collection, baby onesies and kids shirts in bright colours, was a success. Sold-outs had become a regular.
Too big for me
It was somewhere in 2012 that I found myself more and more disliking the times I had to deal with suppliers and buyers. I realised that the brand shirts&words had become too big for me. I was more than happy to sell the concept to Marcel and Miriam Bleeker, who took excellent care of my little ‘baby’. They expanded the collection with lots of goodies: caps, pants, towels, jewellery, flip flops. My precious little one has become a grown up.
My dream come true
When I started with shirts&words back in 2008, I had a dream: one day shirts&words would have its own store. That one day came when the shirts&words store at Curaçao Boulevard was opened. During my stay in Curaçao in 2014, I could finally visit the store. It was amazing to see that – although I had nothing to do with it – my dream had become reality.
Products // shirts&words, from souvenir to apparel brand
Products 2010 – 2012 // Upgrading shirts&words to an apparel brand
Products 2008 – 2010 // a trendy souvenir T-shirt from Curaçao