Tale of the tee: Working Hard in Harrisburg

A record player
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Goulet Communications launched Stay Apparel Co. in October 2017.

The older woman approached Stay’s table at the Harrisburg Flea at Strawberry Square. She had a knowing look on her pleasant face as she focused on our “Working Hard in Harrisburg” tee, which adorned a torso mannequin at one end of the table.

Do you recognize this artwork? I asked.

Without hesitation, she correctly identified it as the Pennsylvania Worker statue outside the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry building in the capital city.

The statue was the final piece to the shirt design, which drew its initial inspiration from the English rock band The Clash. Specifically, “working hard in Harrisburg” is a lyric from the song “Clampdown,” found on the great double album, “London Calling.”

As I explained here, The Clash produced “London Calling” in 1979 against the backdrop of the partial core meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant south of Harrisburg that March. (Note the cooling towers in the background of this video, which shows the band performing “Clampdown” on the old ABC series “Fridays.”)

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones wrote “Clampdown,” an anti-establishment tune that seemingly otherwise has nothing to do with Harrisburg. But it’s Paul Simonon who appears on the album cover, smashing his bass guitar against the stage.

Pennsylvania worker

It’s an iconic photo, but it pains me to think that anyone would destroy a guitar. I thought a celebration of the Pennsylvania worker, and by extension the American laborer, was the perfect substitution for our brand’s focus on U.S.-made products.

For the artwork I turned to two friends who are heavily invested in Harrisburg as residents and owners of Yellow Bird Cafe in midtown. I once worked at a Harrisburg ad agency with Stephanie Perry, who is a graphic designer.  Her husband, Ammon, is an illustrator and created our version of the Pennsylvania Worker while Steph handled the lettering. (The font is called Housearama Kingpin, from House Industries in Delaware.)

You can purchase the Working Hard in Harrisburg tee here. But I also encourage you to do the hard work and see the statue for yourself at 651 Boas St., Harrisburg.

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