Love Manchester: A woman and the city she loves, bringing people together one T-shirt at a time

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One of 28 @lovemanchester T-shirt designs by Jen Drociak, now available on our spankin’ new Ink Link Shop!

MANCHESTER, NH – Big news here at the Ink Link. After what feels like a long and round-about journey, we’ve launched our online Ink Link SHOP with a very special collection: @lovemanchester by Jen Drociak.

Why an online Ink Link Shop?

Before the pandemic changed everything we were working on a way to celebrate local artists while providing the public with some online shopping options that would also support those artists. After learning about Jen’s passion project – creating a collection of T-shirts that exude her great love for all things Manchester – we invited her to set up an online shop here on the Ink Link.

Today is the big reveal! You can view the online @lovemanchesternh collection here in our Ink Link Shop. All shirts are just $20 (plus s&h).

How @lovemanchesternh came to be

Jen Drociak, a third-generation Manchester native, loves the Queen City. It’s beauty. It’s history. It’s diversity. It’s opportunities. It’s grit. It’s determination. It’s resilience. It’s wonderfully weird. And it’s heart.

In April of 2022, while in Leadership Greater Manchester, before the most recent branding effort on behalf of the city, Jen was thinking about how Manchester sometimes struggles to define and market itself. She then realized there was no one brick-and-mortar or online store that sold Manchester merchandise, nor was the merchandise that existed very fresh, fun, and consistently branded. As such, she thought, why not design a fun T-shirt series to begin with (showcasing her love of Manchester) which can perhaps extend to other items later on? 

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Wear your heart on your sleeve.

When she was considering design and content for the series, she went back to the thought of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve, which translated into a literal manifestation. As such, she decided to incorporate a logo on each sleeve (as per the photo to the left) and created the Instagram handle @lovemanchesternh.

She’s also a writer, photographer, and lover of mid-century modern, hence the typewriter and neon-sign fonts incorporated throughout.

Additionally, she wanted to appeal to different ages and audiences; both newcomers to the city, and those who had either grown up here or have been here for so long that they would remember certain things that no longer exist. Then she thought, in addition to capturing the nostalgia of what once was with some of the more recognizable people or places, why not also include some “icons and oddities” – some which still exist, and some that don’t. Her intent was to also create fun conversation pieces with most of these shirts, which have an online description associated with them so that people can share some wonderful and weird tidbits of Manchester’s history while helping to show that the city is cool!

This is the beginning of an endeavor that seems to have endless possibilities, including additional items later. She hopes you will enjoy this first rollout, which took a year and a half, nearly 20 versions, and a plethora of design choices to thoughtfully consider. Although she is an artist and only dabbles in graphic design, so please be kind and be sure to share the love of the Queen City! 

A note of thanks from the artist

I’m forever grateful for the tremendous assistance of Ink Link publisher Carol Robidoux and Ink Link web developer Manon Michel who both, through countless hours (really, I don’t know how many hours they both contributed to this as they won’t tell me!) not only saw the value in this project and these products but encouraged me to take the risk and work toward completing this iteration of it, set up the online shop, converted my graphic design into the T-shirt templates, made multiple tweaks along the way. From the bottom of my “wear my heart on my sleeve” heart, thank you! 

After purchasing a shirt, once received be sure to tag yourself wearing it anywhere, but especially in proximity to where it exists or once existed! We would love to see you in them! And make sure to post your photos on Instagram: @lovemanchesternh  


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About the artist

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Jen Drociak (a.k.a “Jenchester” by her close friends), lives in Manchester, is a member of the Manchester Heritage Commission, a trustee of the Manchester Historic Association, and coordinates the Manchester Urban Ponds Restoration Program). She is a Union Leader “40 Under 40” honoree (class of 2011), Graduate of Leadership Greater Manchester (class of 2022), and WZID “Outstanding Woman” honoree (class of 2023).

Jen has a degree in Environmental Conservation (and works at the NH Department of Environmental Services) and a Certificate in Photography from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Her photography can be found here and three of her photographs can be seen as wrap-around art on the city’s new solar-powered compacting trash cans on Elm Street. She loves all things wonderfully weird, is a Brady Bunch fanatic, and loves street sweepers (her harbinger of spring and best management practice for cleaner water!).


Interested in launching your own collection on our Ink Link Shop? Contact Carol Robidoux at publisher@manchesterinklink.com


 

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!