Launching a business from the basement of a fraternity house may sound far-fetched for some, but two University of Kansas students proved that it can be a successful side hustle. Juniors SaeVheon and TaeVheon Alcorn turned a spontaneous idea into a booming business with their creation of “The Vintage Hawks.”
The Vintage Hawks specializes in collecting and redistributing vintage KU-related clothing, as well as antique Kansas City Chiefs gear. The twins said over 500 items worth of inventory constantly fill their cars, rooms and closets in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
“Around like five thrifters work full-time for us pretty much,” Tae said of building the twins’ vintage collection. “They’ll go to Kansas City and go to the Goodwills, or just any thrift store in general, and they’ll find anything they can find for us.”
When their business came to life in the spring of 2020, the Alcorn twins had significantly more time to thrift vintage items on their own. The Covid-19 pandemic kept Sae and Tae away from campus, so they redirected their energy into establishing and branding their company.
However, being back on campus meant readjusting to the balancing act that is being a college student. Sae and Tae are student athletes and run track at KU, which they hope to expand in via the NCAA’s new Name, Image and Likeness [NIL] policy.
“We kind of want to partner with KU athletes and get them to wear our merchandise, but it’s kind of currently a conflict between the university,” Sae said. “We’re going to try tackling that and figuring out where we can go for the next steps.”
Profiting off name, image and likeness is a fairly new process for athletes at the University of Kansas, as they were given the green light on July 1. Fortunately, Sae and Tae discovered a way to still become entrepreneurs despite the existing policy.
Because the twins did not use their identities as student-athletes to market their merchandise before July and have never received benefits from the university for their business specifically, they are legally able to operate The Vintage Hawks as their own.
Moving forward, the ability to profit off their names, images and likenesses as well as partnering with fellow student-athletes is a game changer. While nothing is set in stone, Sae and Tae have put a lot of thought into potential ways to benefit from the policy.
“Instead of selling them [student-athletes] a t-shirt for like the regular price that I guess we would say a non-athlete would buy for $30, we could sell to the athlete for about $10,” Sae said. “We would want them to post it [the shirt] online, of course, with social media.”
Though this plan does not fully take advantage of the NIL policy because athletes would be paying to wear the gear themselves, giving them a discount could be seen as an incentive to wear The Vintage Hawks clothing. The twins hope having student-athletes wear and share their vintage clothing will draw more attention to their one-of-a-kind brand.
While expanding The Vintage Hawks is important, Sae and Tae are not in this operation solely for the money. Giving back to the University of Kansas is something the Alcorns take to heart as well.
There is something special about returning little pieces of Kansas history, like a vintage hoodie or a t-shirt that is no longer being made, back to the university community.
“Taking items from the 70s, 80s and 90s and placing them back into the hands of KU students right now, recent graduates or like the greater, general community, it’s very unifying,” Tae said. “You can only be a Jayhawk in one place, and it’s here in Lawrence, Kansas.”