Lauren and Dan Hunter of Green Bay have developed a brand with a mission, and a passion grown from trauma.
“When Dan was younger, he was hit by a car and pronounced dead at the scene,” Lauren explained. “The doctors said he wasn’t going be able to walk or talk, let alone have kids. Our brand is one of Dan’s motivations to keep building a legacy of a thriving family. He wants to be able to tell his story to uplift and motivate others.”
Her husband not only survived; the couple has thrived. They are parents of five children ranging in age from 5 to 16 including daughters, ages 12 and 14, who are young entrepreneurs.
Watching their daughters as they sold lip gloss and tie-dye shirts at pop-up shops provided further motivation. About a year ago, a plan was formulated and Luveeny (www.luveenywear.com) became a reality.
“We thought about this business after we lost our jobs during the pandemic. We wanted to have a business so we didn’t have to worry about that happening again,” Lauren said.
Because she and her husband both love fashion, they decided on that type of business. They started with hats, and when those went well, began to add designs with the goal of making unique items at a good price.
“As a kid, I always liked to watch fashion shows, but my family was low income and we couldn’t afford it,” Lauren said. “That’s what is great about this business. It is high fashion at an affordable price.”
The business is described as a luxury, urban streetwear clothing brand. The name is derived from the phrase “love in envy,” which is also the brand’s slogan. She says that love wins despite the envy in the world.
Their website adds, “Wearing the Luveeny brand is a statement to the heart. It is like wearing positive affirmations around your soul, stating that no matter how overwhelming the pain threatens to be, love always wins.”
As she and Dan work to spread this message and develop a successful business, they have a mentor at the Green Bay SCORE Chapter, Laurel Haak.
“One thing we’ve learned so far is to get a mentor right away and use all of the resources that are out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and network, because you might find someone who can help you,” Lauren said.
Dan agreed and offered the advice that research is vital. Before investing in a business, he says, you need to know what the cost will be.
The couple use their strengths as they work to promote their brand. Although Dan believes that it would be better if they had more business experience, both talk about their dedication, motivation and consistency.
“As much as possible, we wake up every day and live and breathe our brand,” Lauren said.
The process has been a learning experience. They created a website and social media pages (on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok), developed both e-commerce and retail exposure to sell their products, and are putting together the legal and financial aspects with the help of their SCORE mentor.
“Laurel is helping us fill out the forms we need,” she said. “In the beginning, we didn’t know anything about business but are learning as we ask questions. I had to restart my business plan, and Laurel is helping with that. Overall, it is a big motivation to my future success.”
In the interim, there have been challenges. They have a manufacturer, but would like to purchase equipment so they can do the work themselves and increase profitability. They rent a small shop in downtown Green Bay where they would like to add a printer, embroidery machine, and other equipment.
“We are saving whatever we can to purchase the machinery,” Lauren said.
As they try to reach that milestone, they work part time at other jobs and spend about half the day on the business. Their daughters have been part of the process and have helped with the designs for the tees, hats and hoodies. It is truly a family business with long-term goals.
“I want this business to be big, and I want it to be generational,” Lauren said. “One of daughters has an eye for fashion and would like to be part of this. It would be great to have a team, and to be able to have a larger manufacturing facility with a retail storefront.”
They know the journey won’t be easy. As Dan found in researching the competition, they need to find a niche in a very crowded environment. They are hoping that their message and creative designs will make them standout.
To that end, their marketing plan will include pop-up shops, capture of email addresses to promote new items, social media involvement, and networking. They post photos on Instagram, and have collaborated with One of One Gallery in De Pere to sell locally.
“The biggest challenge going forward will be getting consistent customers,” Lauren commented. “We have a unique story we want to tell, and our business is a positive affirmation to people who have struggled. They can look at us and say, ‘If they can do this with five kids, we can do it, too.’”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.
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