Twin brothers Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon Alcorn had always been fast. Their friends would describe them as the “most unathletic athletic people they have ever met” because they could run incredibly fast, but that was just about it.
Nonetheless, they were taught to use their given talents to the best of their abilities and create great outcomes. Plus, their great-great uncle, Arthur Wint, was a sprinter and the first Jamaican to win an Olympic gold medal, so greatness was in their blood.
The Alcorn twins started running track in fifth grade, and their athletic journeys led them to the University of Kansas for school and collegiate track and field. They’ve also carried on family values of hard work and perseverance to become successful entrepreneurs, plus they’re now helping other Jayhawks build their own brands.
Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon were born in Kansas City, Missouri, and lived there until they were 3 or 4 years old. They moved to Gardner, Kansas, and spent their remaining childhood and adolescent years there.
Belonging to a family full of achievers and entrepreneurs, the Alcorn twins were exposed to strong work ethic at a young age. Their mother emigrated from Mandeville, Jamaica to the United States when she was a teenager. Their father was from Kansas City, Missouri, and owned two self-started businesses. Their older brother even owns a real estate business with his friends.
“Seeing our parents work incredibly hard instilled that strong work ethic within us too,” Tae-Vheon said. “From a young age, all we knew was to work really hard to get where we want to be at.”
The Alcorn twins are grateful to have a big family, including two older brothers. When their father passed away unexpectedly in 2010, their family met with an unbearable reality. They shared how they used their tribulations as ways to keep building their characters.
“We have learned to use challenges, failures and adversity as motivation to succeed over the years.”— Sae-Vheon Alcorn
“We have learned to use challenges, failures and adversity as motivation to succeed over the years,” Sae-Vheon said.
The Alcorn twins began entrepreneurship at age 12. When the social media platform Vine became a hit sensation around 2013, short video clips were all the rave. Tae-Vheon set out to gain a large following. He created a Vine account where he reposted viral videos and made them go viral again.
Pushing out content allowed him to get more than 1 million followers, so he encouraged Sae-Vheon to try his hand at the social media game. At the time, Sae-Vheon was a big fan of American actor Dylan O’Brien, so he created a fan page that received more than 1 million followers. When the popularity of Vine died off, the twins leveraged both sets of their Vine followers to relocate to the Dylan O’Brien page (@obrien.real).
Then, they started to monetize their audience by selling advertisement spots to large companies, such as the dating site Badoo and the watch business JORD. They would also sell merchandise online. As of Wednesday, the fan page had 671,000 followers, and it has allowed the Alcorns to generate $30,000 in revenue through merchandise sales.
But they did not stop there. They could not.
In the fall of 2019, Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon entered their freshmen years at KU as first-generation college students. Both decided on finance for their majors and quickly became involved in campus activities. Along with being student-athletes, they joined Student Senate, clubs, a fraternity and more. They also were selected to become members of multiple academic honors and scholars’ programs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic surged in the spring of 2020, during their sophomore years, Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon capitalized on their newly found free time while being stuck at home.
Seeing their older brother have a love for vintage clothing and noticing students wearing vintage gear inspired the pair to launch their own startup. Through their business, The Vintage Hawks, they resell vintage KU gear, such as sweatshirts, T-shirts and jackets.
Since there is no thrift store in their hometown of Gardner, at the beginning they would drive to every surrounding city and hunt through every thrift store they could find. If there was a thrift store in sight and it was open, they were walking through those doors.
They would find a decent amount of vintage KU clothing, but they knew there had to be a better way to accumulate items. Eventually, they began partnering with people who thrift full-time to buy directly from them. Now they pre-pay professional thrifters a set price, and over time, they receive bundles of items. Though the bulk of their inventory comes from the KC metro area, they occasionally receive items from all over the nation, including California, New York and Texas.
Every month, the Alcorn twins have “drops” on their website that include the release of 20 to 30 new items with set prices. Though the website is solely for drops, the Instagram page, @thevintagehawks, is auction-based.
KU sophomore Lucy Meisel is a regular customer and acquaintance of the Alcorn twins.
“I would recommend The Vintage Hawks to anyone and everyone,” Meisel said. “Tae and Sae are both so nice and will answer any questions you have. The process to purchase one of these sweatshirts may be different than other websites, but it is definitely worth the effort.”
KU junior Jackson Grin is also a regular customer. He recently received an old-school KU crewneck that earns him a “Rock Chalk” greeting from strangers when he wears it all the way back home in Connecticut.
“When I can simply go online and find gems from Sae and Tae for under $50, it is truly unrivaled,” Grin said.
Furthering KU’s legacy and tradition is something the Alcorn twins take pride in. “We take items from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and place them back into the hands of current students, alumni and community members. I view it as very unifying,” Tae-Vheon said.
According to Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon, giving back and creating opportunities for others are values they hold dear. Their newest endeavor, Vintage Hawk Athlete, is one way they aim to uphold those values. They have also become like mentors to others, and they have given approximately $5,000 back to communities that have supported them.
Through Vintage Hawk Athlete, the Alcorn twins will partner with KU student-athletes to help build their overall brands by creating exposure for them on The Vintage Hawks social media. They will also provide free merchandise to these athletes. So far, they have partnerships with 19 KU student-athletes. Collegiate student-athletes can now benefit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) without it affecting their eligibility due to new NCAA interim rulings put into place on July 1.
In addition, both Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon recently gained personal NIL sponsorship deals with Barstool Sports.
As they approach their junior year, everything in the grand scheme of their lives seems to be coming full circle.
Tae-Vheon shared about his passion for real estate as he is interning this summer at Block Real Estate Services in Kansas City, Missouri. Historically, the United States housing system has been non-inclusive of Black people and other racial/ethnic groups.
The Alcorns’ family shares stories about how their great grandmother grew up in Arkansas during the Jim Crow era. One of her biggest goals was to become a homeowner since homeownership is at the root of accumulating generational wealth, and Black homebuyers were facing discrimination.
She quit school at a young age, moved to Kansas City and eventually fulfilled her dream of owning a home.
“I think real estate is a symbol of opportunity, a way to close that wealth gap between races.”— Tae-Vheon Alcorn
“I think real estate is a symbol of opportunity, a way to close that wealth gap between races,” Tae-Vheon shared. “I hope that one day my brothers and I can come together, maybe with some friends too, and form a commercial real estate firm.”
As for the future, the Alcorn twins have various aspirations. Next summer, Tae-Vheon will be working at Wells Fargo in either New York City or Charlotte, N.C., doing investment banking.
He would like to continue in investment banking after college and then fulfill his dream of working in real estate and private equity back in the Kansas City area.
Sae-Vheon will be working for Bank of America in either Houston, Texas or New York City as an investment banker next summer. After college, he hopes to get a full-time offer there and then settle down in Kansas City or Dallas, Texas and work in private equity, specifically venture capital.
Even though they have big plans for the future, the Alcorn twins are also making sure to enjoy every moment and make the most of their college experiences. Part of that includes furthering the success of The Vintage Hawks. They would love for their Instagram account to hit 10,000 followers within the next couple months, spread their names out to the Lawrence community and keep growing the business in general.
Tae-Vheon and Sae-Vheon have paired their motivation with their faith in God.
“We both have a drive to learn new things and take advantage of every opportunity,” Sae-Vheon added. “God is so good.”
They have decided to follow the examples of resilience and perseverance in their lives.
“Nothing motivates me more than seeing my mom work hard for me and my brothers and seeing my brothers do well,” Tae-Vheon said. “We’ve come so far but we’re not done yet. It’s just really humbling.”
Note: This article has been updated from a previous version.