Saint John is a city. That means a lot of things. Some of the things are good, some are bad, but in the case of Saint John most of them are a little quirky. You could spend a lifetime getting to know all of those quirks. If you’re lucky, you’ve grown up here and already accepted those quirks for what they are and learned to love them. If not, you’re going to need a primer, maybe a close friend to guide you, or some cliff-notes. There’s a comedic goldmine’s worth of material here. Fortunately, thanks to Saint John Strong, we now have some convenient wearable memes to guide us along.
Originally from Chatham, Janice Brown might be a come-from-away, but she’s logged the hours to learn the local lingo. “I’ve been here over 25 years now, though, so I may attain Johner status soon,” she says.
Brown works as a graphic designer, mostly in the corporate world. She tends to do a lot of work dressing up annual reports, but lately she’s started freelancing more; she’s recently designed a book for a client, and now she’s trying her hand at fashion design. In particular, she’s designing shirts through her company Saint John Strong that are unique to the city and feature meme-appropriate content. T-shirt slogans include “Has The Boil Water Order Been Lifted Yet?”, “I Met My Wife At The Aquarius”, “Are The Fireworks Still On Tonight?” and other phrases one is likely to hear around Saint John.
“The ‘Speak Johner’ idea picks up on some of our expressions or thoughts that are specific to us. Like the boil water order, or having met your spouse at the AQ,” says Brown. “Another side of it is ‘Saint John Strong’, that is just a little shot in the arm of a city that seems to be on rough times at the moment — but we’re resilient, we’re strong.”
“Live it. Learn it. It’s quirky town. But it’s the quirks that separate us from the others. They give us a sense of place I think.”
Brown says that people are finding the designs humorous, which is what she was going for. “It’s not laughing at us, but with us. We make fun of ourselves, which is a good thing. We could all use a little more cheekiness.”
There are currently ten different designs, plus a onesie for the #GrowSJ crowd. There are a couple more designs coming down the pipe, though Brown says she has yet to move onto making them available through local retailers yet. All her available designs can be purchased through the Saint John Strong Facebook page
We’re still waiting on one about a paywall.