The Short Version
The story of Johnny Vacay, the brand, could never be penned without the story of Johnny Vacay: the traveler, photographer, cubical dodger, island aficionado and real world escapist.
Photography has always been my passion, which inspired me to travel and adventure throughout my life. The combination of my two passions; photography and travel created a perfect blend which would ultimately fuel the concept for Johnny Vacay, the brand.
In 2012, I booked a one way flight to St. John, a tiny island in the Caribbean. With $800 in my pocket, a friend of a friend for a contact, and my life in a backpack, I set out to do something different. Although I made it to paradise, the first couple of months were rough. I slept on a half inflated air mattress in a hot, mosquito filled apartment and worked odd jobs to pay for rent, food, and plenty of rum. But my luck soon changed when I met the owner of the biggest surf shop on island. He offered me a job screen printing T-shirts for his shop and soon taught me how to turn my photographs into T-shirt designs. They quickly sold out, and I realized I was onto something.
For the next five years I traveled from Island to Island, taking thousands of pictures, creating new designs and selling the Johnny Vacay brand. I never spent more than seven months in one place, expanding the brand throughout St. John, Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Malibu.
Johnny Vacay has evolved and expanded and now offers a robust line of apparel, accessories, and print. In my effort to continue to bring you authentic travel-inspired products, I've committed to living the JV lifestyle - Always on Vacation. And with my apparel line, you'll feel like you are too.
Life is short. Take a vacation!
Founder / Designer / Vacation Aficionado
The Long Version
Headed to St. John for my first winter, my whole life in a bag and my Instabed air mattress!
The journey started fall of 2012. At age 24 I left Boston for St John with my life in a backpack to travel and promote my first clothing brand
Peace Love Sailing.
Way before Johnny Vacay, Peace Love Sailing was a sailing lifestyle brand I started after my first trip to the Virgin Islands in 2011. I had made a logo for a spring break trip sailing throughout the BVI. I printed tees for all of my friends and wore them during the trip. I got so many compliments that I decided to bring it back up to New England and start my first clothing line. Unbeknownst to me at that time, that trip was the catalyst for my next 3 winters spent on St. John
After a couple months of odd jobs, sailing gigs and day work I landed a job screen printing tee shirts for a guy named Pretlow. He owned a few surf shops on St John and needed someone to make tee shirts for his store - Made in St John. Luckily that previous summer I had taught myself how to screen print so I was hired on the spot. I'll never forget the walk home after we shook hands. I had landed my dream job on a dream island. I was on top of the world!
Shortly after, Pretlow taught me how to turn my photographs into tee shirt designs. Not only did I get PLS into his store, I was now designing tee shirts for Made in St John. My designs soon became best sellers and that's when I decided to lay PLS to rest and start my own photographic tee shirt line - John Annetti Brand
For the rest of the winter I took thousands of photographs, printed hundreds of tee shirts and traveled all over the Caribbean. All the while, creating John Michael Brand which I planned to launch summer 2013.
Spring had come and summer was fast approaching. I had gotten an offer from a friend of mine to spend the summer on his boat on Martha's Vineyard. I jumped at the offer for another six months on island time.
I made a deal with Pretlow promising I'd be back next winter and he threw me a few bucks to lock me in. So I took my new tees, a pocket full of cash and headed north for the summer.
The summer of 2013 was one I'll never forget. It was full of adventure and a new chapter for John Michael Brand.
I spent the month of July hopping from boat to boat. Sailing between Newport, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Maine. I used this time to build a massive archive of photographs that would fuel the brand for years to come.
My next big break occurred the night the Port Hunter restaurant opened in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. I'll never forget it. I walked in and said hi to the bartender and the first words out of his mouth were "I like your tee shirt, where did you get it?"
The bartender's name was Patrick, the owner of the the Port Hunter and the coolest retail store in town - Backwater Trading Company. After a quick conversation about the brand and who I was he asked if I wanted to sell them at his store. It's sill to this day one of the best moments of my life.
It's been six years now at Backwater. They are my first wholesale account and we have been selling out ever since.