Two St. Thomas students used their 200-level entrepreneurship project to help make a hard time easier, with a flare of practical style.
Sophomores Brian Keller and Zach Quinn designed brightly-colored hats, which say ‘Love Your Melon,’ made of 100 percent thick-knit cotton for cancer patients.
“We think bright colors on most of our hats, or even the bright-colored logos on our more modest hats, will just get people talking about the issues,” Keller said, “talking about what we can do to make people’s lives better.”
The vision for ‘Love Your Melon’ is to not only sell the hats, but to build relationships with children with cancer, to raise awareness, and to make a difference. The duo is working with a factory out of Portland, Ore., as well as local artist Marlene Gaige to make their vision happen.
Gaige is creating the embroidered logos that will be sewn onto the hats’ cuffs.
Jay Ebben, entrepreneurship professor, said the project was loosely based around the concept of a lemonade stand; the smallest form of business.
“There are really two main requirements for the project,” Ebben said. “One is to build a brand that they could potentially continue beyond the end of the semester. The other is to generate revenue.”
Quinn said the main parameters for the project were to relate it to the lemonade stand concept and not spend more than $700.
“We said we were going to blow both of those out of the water,” Quinn said. “We wanted to do something that makes more of a difference and we can continue past the class. We think we can really take this somewhere.”
Quinn said he realized the name ‘Love Your Lemon’ didn’t make sense, so he and Keller changed the name to ‘Love Your Melon.’
“It ties into the idea of the hats and heads,” Quinn said.
The $20 hats come in yellow, turquoise or fuchsia. Marled charcoal and khaki hats cost $25. The two expect to start selling the hats near the end of November and the beginning of December.
“You won’t be able to find this on the shelves of stores,” Quinn said.
Ebben said he thought ‘Love Your Melon’ was a great concept.
“From a brand perspective, it’s got a lot of potential,” Ebben said. “They’re really enthusiastic about it.”
The profits will go toward hosting a fundraiser for a cancer research organization.
The team is considering collaborating with non-profit organizations that fit the vision for ‘Love Your Melon.’ Quinn visited Print 4 Change, a local printing business that gives half of its proceeds to benefit children in Haiti.
“We’re working with them on creating little greeting cards that people will have the opportunity to write a note to the kid that they’re buying their hat for,” Quinn said.
In addition to Print 4 Change, the team is also contacting hospitals and other groups like College Students Against Cancer.
“We are getting in touch with hospitals in the area in order to build those relationships with the hospitals, in order to bring the hats in and be able to sit down with the kids and hear their stories,” Keller said.
Quinn said the business venture won’t be done at the end of the semester, but the team hopes to continue past the requirements of the course.
“This isn’t something we just want to do for the semester, for the class to get an ‘A,’” Keller said. “This is something we want to do to change people’s lives and extend for years to come.”
Bjorn Saterbak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.