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Meet Kevin McLean - Owner and Founder of Gracenote Apparel

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Hi there!

First off, thank you for taking the time to both visit and to read this blog!

Let me tell you a bit about myself - I am 26 (yes, I guess that makes me a millennial), Canadian, and have been a piper with the SFU Pipe Band since 2011 (no, I haven't won the worlds with them.... yet!). I started out in 2003 through the SFU junior program and moved through the organization taking solo lessons from Alan Bevan along the way. 

I am one of the biggest piping nerds there is. Whenever I try to strike up a conversation with fellow pipers about having read piobaireachd books by Alistair Campsie, Bridget MacKenzie, Frank Richardson, Seumas MacNeill, the latest Alt. Piobaireachd blog, or even the Binneas is Boreraig Forewords I'm usually given a blank look. I love learning about the instrument and I'm incredibly passionate about learning the history of the music, especially piobaireachd. 

In 2016 I graduated from SFU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and a minor in history. As part of my degree, I did several co-op work terms including one with Tartantown (yes, my job was to make coffee for Terry Lee). 

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A big part of my co-op and university experience was learning graphic design skills. I first dabbled with this in Fort McMurray when I worked for Syncrude's public relations department. They wanted me to design stuff for them... unfortunately I had zero design skills whatsoever. I stayed late, asked for help from all of my co-workers (sorry guys!), and spent my evenings watching InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop tutorials so I could just complete the jobs I was being assigned to do. That was when I wasn't busy practicing... but realistically it's not like there's anything else to do in Fort McMurray in the winter.

My next co-op experience was with Tartantown and I helped them design a new website, re-did all of their online and social media marketing strategy (which included using my newly acquired graphic design skills), and took photos of all of their products. 

After I graduated, I wanted to undertake a project that used both my love of the pipes as well as my design skills - hence Gracenote Apparel. I wasn't sure how it was going to work but I wanted to create a sort of 'fandom' culture for the instrument. The pipes take so much flak in mainstream society for sounding terrible and is often considered a 'novelty' or even (cruelly) a joke instrument.

I want to change that. Pipers are proud of the instrument they play, the culture it symbolizes, the community it represents, and I want them to be able to show the world that. What we do is so unique and special and so few people in the world get to experience that passion - we should be proud! 

I have loved the experience of doing this project so far - meeting tons of new people digitally and then seeing somebody wearing a shirt I designed is an incredible feeling. I'm very open to any suggestions so if you have anything you'd like to see on a shirt, please let me know and I'll do my best to make it happen!

Thanks and I hope you enjoy

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