“We are the rule benders, the game changers, the movers and shakers.” These are the words that grace the top of the screen of the “Who We Are” section of the Hooligans Movement’s website. This student run clothing organization takes a different approach to business and life, this quote not only encompasses the attitudes that each and every founder of the company holds, but also the path that this company is trekking down.
Hooligans Movement LLC is a fairly new entity, having been founded a little less than a year and a half ago. The four founders – Indigo Hansen, Jack Shelgren, Myles Blatt, and Will Jones – are all entrepreneurial students at Florida State that clicked as soon as they met. A loan of $1,250 from Dr. Jim Dever of the entrepreneurial school – of which they have already paid back – got the Hooligans brand up and running. There is a good chance that you have seen their gear around campus, whether it be a sticker on a table in a Strozier library study room, or college students sporting their signature baseball tees.
Making their mainstay at Florida State’s weekly Market Wednesdays, this group of four FSU students is expanding their brand as quickly as they can, as they have recently returned home from Orlando’s Surf Expo, an event described as “the largest and longest-running board sports and beach/resort lifestyle tradeshow in the world.”
When asked about their experience in Orlando, Chief Marketing Officer Jack Shelgren was excited about all the connections they made with all the other sellers and buyers. “We met Tony Alva’s brand,” said Shelgren. Tony Alva is the pioneer that pushed skate culture into the mainstream, as his connections helped create the famous film Lords of Dogtown and he even had a hand in jumpstarting the even help start Vans shoe company. Shelgren continued to list off a slew of other brands that they met such as, Sector 9, Pelagic, and GoPro.
Apart from these valuable connections made at the expo, Shelgren was happy to share with fellow entrepreneurs about the youth of his company compared to the other big time names that were trying to push products, and the trajectory that Hooligans has set out for themselves.
“We are on a massive growth trajectory and we were by far the youngest brand doing what we are doing. The average age of business owners and sellers at Surf Expo was between 40-45 years old,” said Shelgren. “It was really refreshing to see how flabbergasted people were when they found out we were still in college finishing our degrees. People just thought we were reps. They had no idea that we were the actual owners.”
Shelgren and Co. were excited to make a name for themselves this past week at Surf Expo but the journey doesn’t stop here, as they hope to bend more rules down the road rather than just sticking out because of their age.
The Game Changers:
Along with getting their name and message out there, Hooligans Movement took a different approach to teaching new members, or interns, as well as giving students a valuable business experience.
“Surf Expo was definitely the most involvement we’ve had with people outside of the company. We gave them business cards, paid them to be there, and had them ultimately represent us. They helped so much. We had an awesome team of people,” said Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Will Jones.
Dylan Farley, who was one of these interns, is also a student at Florida State University. “It was a crazy experience,” said Farley who had no sales experience prior to the expo. “The prep was a little intimidating, as someone who never closed a sale before, [but] I picked it up.” Farley was blown away by the size of the convention as well as the numerous people and brands with whom he made connections. “The experienced that I gained from this expo was unparalleled,” Farley added.
Hooligans hopes to showcase their organic way of marketing, as their outreach is something taken from a non-traditional playbook. In stark contrast with most companies’ approaches to social media, Hooligans steer away from professionally styled advertising, opting instead for inspirational quotes, artist profiles, and music recommendations. This company is doing their best to make sure their message isn’t just about selling cool T-shirts- they will be the first one to tell you that this is a Lifestyle brand, not a clothing one, as they have taken the rebellious nature of what a Hooligan is, and have celebrated it. “A Hooligan is someone who asks for forgiveness, rather than permission. We’re the kids your parents warned you about,” added Shelgren at the end of our interview.
The Movers and Shakers:
Not one conversation with Jack Shelgren will go by without him brightening with excitement over the moves he’s making in his life and with the company. I sat down in a recent interview with Shelgren atwith FSU’s radio station, WVFS Tallahassee., Shelgren mentioned the idea of getting into the Australian mainstream over the summer. When asked where he sees the company in one year Shelgren responded with:
Right now, one of our big goals internationally is Australia. So we have band sponsorships with Sticky Fingers, Bootleg Rascal, and we’re talking to Boo Seeka and Tash Sultana as well. The Australian music scene is popping right now – not many people in the U.S. are catching on to it yet, but it’s big, and it’s beautiful, and eclectic, and some big names are coming out of there. Right now we are hopping on that bandwagon, and we have a large following in Australia because of said bands, mostly Sticky Fingers who I had the pleasure of meeting in Atlanta two years ago and in Tampa this last year. I gave them some of our shirts and they have loved it. I mean, they’re Hooligans!
Shelgren went on to explain where he sees the company in the more immediate future, as he’ll be able to interact with Australian culture firsthand thanks to an internship where he’ll be in Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Singapore:
I just got an internship with Good Startups, and with that internship I am going to be based in Sydney, Australia, but I am going to be able to stay mobile, and travel through Australia, travel to Auckland, New Zealand, and Bali, and Singapore. While I’m there, I’m going to be balancing the workload between Good Startups and Hooligans Movement. My main goal when I’m there for Hooligans is to streamline manufacturing in Australia, so we don’t have to pay shipping costs. Once we streamline production and align some boutiques and surf shops there, on the golden coast, we will be good to go.
Shelgren goes onto explain how their connection with Sureshaker music company may lead to the production of band T-shirts representing their clients, but for now the main goal is to get the Hooligans name out there and “onto the backs” of these performers who are traveling all over the world.
When it comes to the United States, Hooligans Movement is making their moves up and down the east coast. In Tallahassee, their products are in Tobacco Leaf Smoke Shop and Gaines Street Smoke Shop. According to co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Myles Blatt, their gear has propelled down to South Florida and into other states too. “The biggest takeaway from Surf Expo was being presented with the opportunity of putting our clothing, and our apparel, and our mentality, and our brand into other people’s stores. We are currently now in a shop in Cape Cod, two shops in North Carolina, and a shop in South Florida, which is absolutely huge for us,” said Blatt. He continued to excitedly tell me about their chance in getting into Zumiez skate shop, “So, right now we are currently going to be put into their test market, located in Orlando. We’ve given them a few pieces to test, and as that progresses, once those pieces are in the Orlando shops, they’re going to see how they sell, and they’re going to sell very quickly. Zumiez will then be placing an order with Hooligans, and that will be a huge opportunity for us.”
With the company being over a year old, Blatt also talked about how far Hooligans Movement has come since their “crappy little baseball tees that we heat pressed in the beginning, where we were only ordering 60 shirts at a time to now where we are ordering 500 shirts at a time, where everything is manufactured.”
Sixty to 500 shirts in the course of a year is one way to shake things up in a company, but then again these “hooligans” are used to it. Back in the radio booth, Jack Shelgren started to talk about post-graduation thoughts that he had about his future as well as the company’s. “I’m not working a nine to five. Once we obtain those distribution outlets, we will be golden. My goal is to graduate with a job for myself. I just want to go out and make the change in the world, I want to see the world, I want to help people, I want to talk to people, I want to connect. I just want to live the life I want to live,” Shelgren said with an air of optimism that he so commonly carries himself with. This is just the beginning for these four Florida State students, so expect to see the Hooligans brand continue to bend rules, change the game, and move and shake all the way around the world.
You can purchase clothing and meet the founders of Hooligans Movement LLC every Wednesday at Florida State’s Ogelsby Union from 9am-3pm. 5% of their profits are donated to a non-profit organization of their choice at the end of every year. In 2016, they donated to The Mockingbird Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing music education for children.