Brandon Kinnie - Red Fan Nation Merchandise

Brandon Kinnie, owner and founder of Red Fan Nation, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Inspired by a popular song, Brandon Kinnie was listening to “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” by Rick Ross when the thought “Everyday I’m Huskerin’” came to mind. The idea would turn into a full-blown career.

Two weeks ago, Kinnie, a former Husker football and Kansas City Chiefs player, launched a website for Red Fan Nation, his company that sells original designs for Husker merchandise, with his new slogan “Everyday I'm Huskerin’”.

Kinnie has aspired to have a merchandise company for nearly five years. He originally began his former merchandising company, Husker 84, five years ago but had to let go of the company due to time and unforeseen complications. 

“I kinda went in the dark with [Husker 84] for about four or five years,” Kinnie said. “Afterward, I just kept thinking about it and kept coming up with different ideas.”

Two weeks ago, Kinnie said he had a conversation with his pastor and sought advice about what should happen and how they could make the company come to life. 

“My pastor at my church and I started talking one day and running ideas by each other, and I was letting him know what I was thinking and he was like, ‘We could do this’ and ‘We can start putting things together,’” he said. “It was a really cool process.”

After two days of putting together the website with his friend and co-founder Myron Pierce, Red Fan Nation was up and running as an e-commerce website. Kinnie decided to listen to the advice from those around him and launched Red Fan Nation as an online-only store rather than a store with a physical location. 

“When I first started [Red Fan Nation],” Kinnie said, “I was looking for a storefront and all these other things, and I was talking to different people and they were like, ‘Start it online first and see what type of attraction you get and then go from there.’”

While some might find it a little daunting to start a company, Pierce had no problem partnering up with Kinnie and felt they both had enough experience to get the company up and running. 

“Both of us are entrepreneurs and have, in times past, started companies,” Pierce said. “So, I wasn’t too hesitant.”

For Kinnie, the decision to launch the company online paid off. 

“It helped a lot because if you get a building you got to cover overhead costs and things like that, so once I created Red Fan Nation, it was just all super easy.”

Kinnie said using social media is beneficial for businesses that are just getting on their feet and should be used as a starting point. Other than his use of social media to help his company and support of the Huskers, Kinnie said he credits his friends for their support during Red Fan Nation’s launch.  

“The marketing has been helped a lot by former teammates of mine that are playing now in the professional league,” Kinnie said. “They help out and support me 100% by doing free tweets and spreading the word, and that’s a great way to start the foundation.”

Kinnie said the biggest challenges he faced while starting this company were his doubts of people not liking the products he made. However, he had the support and help to create products people would like. 

“I’m a big customer service guy, and I love working with people,” he said. “They are the reason why businesses, or anybody like me who wants to be an entrepreneur, can exist.”

According to Kinnie, Red Fan Nation’s designs are different than what fans normally see from other companies. 

“I want to come up with original designs different from competitors,” he said. “And I want to be savvier about what I'm doing and just wanted to make it a bit more hip-type of thing.” 

However, Pierce said he believes the company differs from others because it doesn’t solely focus on making money, but also ongiving back to others in the community. About 10% of Red Fan Nation’s proceeds go to inner-city philanthropies in Omaha and other charities. 

Kinnie’s goal for the company was to provide Husker fans with great products, and he said he feels he has achieved that. He said it wouldn’t have been possible without his community, friends and the many Husker fans who are buying the products. 

“I want to thank everyone for the support; thanks to Husker nation for everything because if it wasn’t for them, there would be no Red Fan Nation,” he said. “I want to continue making people proud and make the fan base proud of what I did when I was [at UNL] and with what I'm doing in life afterward.”

culture@dailynebraskan.com