Twin brothers SaeVheon and TaeVheon Alcorn are multi-talented. They’re runners and entrepreneurs who have started two businesses. They’re former Vine stars that had 2M+ followers combined. They’ve used their experience and talents to become leaders in the NIL era.
You can most likely find SaeVheon (Sae) and TaeVheon (Tae) running Vintage Hawks these days. Vintage Hawks specializes in reselling vintage KU and Kansas City sports clothing. The Alcorn Twins have been a package deal since day one, and made it known in their recruiting process that they wanted to run together in college. They did.
Before arriving on campus, they knew there was a possibility of NIL rule changes and began to prepare. In fact, Tae wrote multiple high school papers on the argument why student-athletes should be paid for their NIL. They have excellent branding and business instincts, and worked hard to develop their expertise.
“For years, Sae and I have realized that when you build your Instagram account, one key factor to your success on Instagram – and social media in general – is creating a personal brand.” Tae said. “When Sae and I were in high school, we saw this pretty quickly. We were like, ‘Hey we have to start building our personal brand now because maybe one day when we go to college, we can make money from being a student athlete somewhere.’ We hopped on this wave early high school.”
To show for their efforts, they grew a community of 1M+ followers on Vine – each. They are charismatic marketers and entrepreneurs who know how to connect with an audience.
“Freshman year at KU we just kept building, meeting new people and getting more followers,” Tae continued. “Sophomore year we did the same thing. Junior year we realized that our time is here finally, and it’s time to monetize and make money from our NIL. I think it’s an awesome opportunity. A lot of student-athletes across the nation obviously agree too.
“Student-athletes across the nation who realize that personal brands are a key factor towards success in terms of NIL are the ones who are hopping on the wave early and taking full advantage of it. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for everyone.”
While growing their personal brands at Gardner Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kan., Tae and Sae developed their entrepreneurial spirit.
“When we were in high school, we actually created our first business,” Tae explained. “Our business was drop shipping online using our platform to influence people to go to our website and buy ecommerce products online. We did that throughout high school, and it was an awesome experience for us.”
During COVID-19 quarantine in 2020, they started Vintage Hawks. They’ve been able to market their brand to their network of peers and have even hired several employees to go on frequent thrifting trips. They worked hard and made it happen.
“We had to learn how to run a business via Instagram,” Sae said. “We were really strong and more well-versed with running big consumer accounts…so [we] spent that entire summer learning how to appeal to our audiences.”
Now, the Alcorn Twins have a team of people to help them run their business.
“We’d [go to thrift stores] and find whatever we could find in terms of vintage KU, Chiefs, Royals – you name it, we probably found it – but this was very tedious,” Tae said. “Then we realized we can definitely do this a more efficient way. Now we partner with around four or five people who serve full-time, as their job, and we partner with them. We pay them ahead of time now, saying, ‘Hey we’ll give you X amount of dollars if you find this many KU items’ [at thrift stores] and we’ll pay that price up front. That’s worked out for us pretty well. Given that we’re student-athletes, our time is very crucial, so having people do that for us is very needed in terms of time management.”
Being engaged in their campus community has allowed the Alcorn Twins to be leaders, a resource for their peers when it comes to starting a business and pursuing NIL opportunities. Former teammates and classmates come to them with questions.
“One thing I keep telling my teammates is that they have to make sure that they know they’re an asset,” Tae explained. “Being an athlete, you have an influence, so people need to take advantage of that. I think Sae and I were the first two athletes to get a NIL deal at KU, from Opendorse and some other places as well. A lot of our teammates asked us, ‘Hey, how did you guys get that deal?’ I told them through Opendorse, obviously.”
Building a brand can be a confusing venture for some, but Tae and Sae are happy to share their experience.
“One thing I keep in mind and let them know is that you have to make sure that you’re building your personal brand,” Tae said. “Whether that be posting a lot, putting out content on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, recording your practices. Just make sure that you guys are producing content, you put the work in every single day of practice. Why not post it? That’ll help them build their personal brand in terms of being a student-athlete and having those big brands see that.”
Posting content is really just sharing your story.
“It’s more so just highlighting your story,” Sae said. “I always pitch myself to people. Our teammates do a good job of sharing the stories of others. We believe that if you share your story, it’s going to be more attractive for you in terms of NIL.”
And Tae added insight from the brand side because, after all, he has that business-owner perspective.
“When you tell your story, it’s more personal to whichever brand you’re talking with. It’s very personal. With that being personal, that’s to your advantage. You’re telling someone your story, where you’re from, your background, what you’ve done in your life, and they want to hear who you are as a person, student, and athlete.”