Once upon a time, there was a company called Drop The Disco Ball Clothing & Design, and yes I know what you’re thinking…the ampersand was part of the company name.
Drop The Disco Ball, or DTDB for short was the first company I ever built. It started as an idea sitting in my mom’s office cubicle on a weekend during my senior year of high school. I was gearing up to attend The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (oh look another ampersand!) and I knew I wanted to start my own clothing and design line. My main goal was to make awesome merch that my favorite bands would want to wear on stage.
So there I sat, in a corporate cubicle listening to Forever The Sickest Kids drawing in my sketchbook when BAM! the name came to me.
Drop The Disco Ball.
Cheeky. Fun. Unconventional. And I friggin’ love disco balls so it made sense for me and the market I was going to design for. 18–24-year-olds with an affinity for music like me. Not to mention I had a disco ball hanging from the mirror in my ‘71 Chevelle but that’s another story for another time.
As I prepped for my big move to LA I wasted no time telling all my friends about it. My dreams about making it a clothing line and design business.
“The bands will wear it on stage and it’ll be a collaboration opportunity too!”
“DTDB x Mayday Parade! I can see it now.”
Little did I know at the time that Glamour Kills was doing something very similar. Alas, 18-year-old me was excited as all get out.
DTDB Takes LA, sorta
Cut to me living in LA. Hungry like the wolf for any opportunity to talk to bands and network. During this time my now husband (we were boyfriend/girlfriend at the time) was getting into screen printing. He encouraged me to start printing my design on shirts to take to shows with me. So we did just that.
I created the first-ever DTDB logo in Illustrator which later became the first-shirt design. Enter DISCO MAN.
He would screen print the shirts and mail them to me in LA and I would take them with me to shows or pass them out to my friends at FIDM. The first ever shirt was printed on a Gildan we had lying around but the official ones were printed on American Apparel because if that doesn’t scream 2008 I don’t know what does.
To legitimatize Drop The Disco Ball I enlisted some roommates for a few photoshoots near our apartment. Very edgy stuff for a bunch of 18-year-olds.
Bands and DTDB — the relationship that kinda never was
Even though I went to my fair share of shows my dream of getting a band to rock DTDB on stage never came to fruition. Instead, it helped me get in the door on the design front. It helped launch my dream of working with bands as their designer. I worked on tour admats, custom MySpace pages, merch designs and animated gifs…lots of animated gifs.
Nevertheless, I continued to work on DTDB as a merch line and created folders upon folders of printing ideas. Your girl was persistent and consistent. I worked on so many promos to get folks into DTDB. This was the MySpace Music heyday after all. I had to strike while the iron was hot.
I even launched a few online stores. The main one being Big Cartel.
The coolest part was that I used Drop The Disco Ball as an outlet for my creativity. I took all the stuff I was learning at FIDM and channeled it into designs. It was a lot of trial and error and in retrospect a lot of “Oh honey…” but I learned a lot. To this day I still design with screen printing in mind. Different layers per ink color til I d-i-e.
DTDB Returns to the Bay
After college I returned home to the Bay Area with the dream of making DTDB a full on design and screenprinting shop. And we did it! In addition to keeping the merch store online. Which was entirely built on static HTML because why not.
In the summer of 2010, Justin (husband, he has a name ya’ll) and I worked our tails off in a very hot garage to make DTDB a reality. I would handle all the design/creative and face-to-face meetings and Justin focused on screen printing and vinyl cutting under Six And One Screenprinting. Oh yeah we made vinyl posters and vinyl car graphics too because Justin is extremely talented at this stuff.
We hustled our butts off and ended up working with a lot of local businesses as their screen printer and designer of choice. Websites, digital ads, movie theater ads, custom merch, and signage were our bread and butter. And to be honest we did pretty well all things considered. But it was grueling. We worked non-stop and during all of it we realized that taxes and accounting are not fun in the slightest. In fact, it was the worst part of the whole thing for us.
After focusing on DTDB full-time from 2010–2011, we decided to it’d be best sunset DTDB at the end of 2012 once we finished up any lingering projects. By the beginning of 2012 we had both started working full-time and realized our energy wasn’t in it anymore. DTDB wasn’t getting the attention it required and we were ready for the next chapter.
We sold our screen printing and vinyl cutting equipment. We donated all our extra t-shirt blanks and focused on our big-kid careers.
The After Life of DTDB
In mid-2017 I thought about resurrecting Drop The Disco Ball but with a B2B design and marketing focus. I felt like the name was fun enough to catch the eye of B2B folks while also creating awesome content for companies in the space. I quickly realized the name deserved to stay in it’s original ecosystem so I created Landing Feet First to cover the B2B design and marketing area I was consultanting for. Points to anyone who gets the song reference 🙂
I find that I always think about DTDB when I start a new chapter. I recently quit my job and am about to embark on a new journey. One that combines everything I loved about working on Drop The Disco Ball. So in honor of the past and in celebration of the future I thought it made sense to bring back the original Drop The Disco Ball shirt for new friends and anyone who missed our original run. Also because stuff like Bonfire didn’t exist back then.
The design is available for 21 days. Available in two colors. One of which being the OG white tee with black ink to honor the first color scheme we launched with.
This is a tribute to DTDB and in honor of all the young creatives out there who have their whole world ahead of them.
Here’s to you. Keep dreaming. Keep going. You got this!