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When a Shirt Is More Than a Shirt

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Josh took this picture of me back in February. We were packing up our gear in preparation for the Asheville Celtic Fest, and I was very unsure about how many Kinnfolk shirts we needed to bring. This was only our second festival where we had merch to sell—we’ve only had these shirts since October 2021—so this was new territory for us!

Why does it matter? Well, Kinnfolk shirts are heavy. Every heavy box we load into our truck is another unit of exhaustion that we have to unload when we get back home after a long day of performing and/or traveling. We have to haul them around at the event, set everything up, break everything down. But more importantly, in this case, the shirts became a symbol…

Perhaps other musicians have experienced this. The question, “How many shirts should we bring?” is actually code for deeper questions like, “How many people know who we are?” or “How many people will enjoy our music?” or “How many people, given the option to drink whiskey or watch heavy athletics or listen to one of the other, more established bands at the festival, will want to take the time to watch one of our sets?”

Imposter syndrome is very real. You might think an easy solution to the shirt question is, “Bring them all, just in case!” But there’s another, unkind part of your brain that chimes in saying, “Wow, a little arrogant aren’t we? You really think you’ll sell that many?” And then, there’s the box itself: the more shirts you pack in, the heavier it becomes, and the heavier the pressure to prove to yourself that the weight is worth it.

Can anyone else relate to this? Or am I the only one who lets something as simple as putting shirts in a box cause them kaleidoscoping anxiety?

For our part, we try to keep things in perspective by focusing on the music. Whether we’re performing for one person or one hundred, what really matters is the energy we bring and the connection(s) we make. Did listening to our music improve even one person’s day? Then it was worth it.

So how did the shirt story end? Well, I’ll tell you…we brought waaaaaay too many shirts. Far too many. Comically too many. But I’m glad we did, because there are enough circumstances out in the world already keeping you from your dreams. So go ahead and thump that imposter syndrome monster on the nose. Be bold and believe in yourself. We’re all growing.

And you know what? That box of shirts might have been heavy, but it was definitely *lighter* by the end of the day.

A big thank you to everybody who has supported us and continues to support us by listening to our music! We couldn’t do it without you.



If you're interested in purchasing a Kinnfolk T-shirt, you can visit our online shop by clicking the button below. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the support!

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Stace Johnson
Stace Johnson
Apr 14, 2022

Imposter syndrome is absolutely a real thing, and it's insidious. I'm glad you took too many, rather than too few. (And I'm glad I've got mine! 😁

Apr 16, 2022
Replying to

Yes, and it can affect anyone! Thanks for cheering us on. (And similarly--go you on your recent publication!!! <3)

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