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Monday December 6th

Vintage Blue UNC uses their platform to spread inspiring stories

<p>Vintage Blue UNC uses social media to market vintage clothing and tell the stories of creative students. Photo Courtesy of Rodrigo Bustamante</p>
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Vintage Blue UNC uses social media to market vintage clothing and tell the stories of creative students. Photo Courtesy of Rodrigo Bustamante

What first started out as a collective group of students auctioning vintage UNC clothing on Instagram has turned into a platform for bringing a voice to visionary people — throughout campus and beyond.

Vintage Blue UNC was originally titled “In With The Old,” a national brand with chapters located at several different colleges across the country and featuring a similar business model.

Juniors Jemal Abdulhadi, Kenny Barone, Jessi Zhou and sophomore Rodrigo Bustamante came together to rebrand the UNC chapter into Vintage Blue UNC — a brand of convenience, expression and humanizing creativity. Since January, they have provided fellow students with rare UNC swag, but that’s only one aspect of their mission. 

“It’s two-fold. The first aspect of it is to get quality, dope, trendy gear to students very conveniently,” Abdulhadi said. “I think a lot of people try to say like ‘Yo, I can just go to eBay and find stuff,’ but we really save people time and we deliver it straight to them so they have straight access to it. And then the second is sharing experiences of very inspirational and impactful people on campus, so people know what’s going on, so people know what people are doing.” 

Vintage Blue seeks out its products by shopping at thrift stores in the area and searching online. The team is currently working on getting some partnerships with thrift stores in the area in order to get its hands on the gear before other people do.

The community-focused business has already gained trusted followers and support as people continue to bid on pieces posted on the Vintage Blue Instagram page. 

Vintage Blue usually posts about three different products per week, with its primary source of visibility on Instagram. Even this form of outreach, however, has posed a challenge in reaching a broader audience as posts get lost in the Instagram algorithm. To combat this issue, Vintage Blue is slowly but surely adding new aspects to its business model by posting its products for sale on the website.

Vintage Blue sees a future beyond the auctioning by sharing the stories of creative students on campus via social media. 

“Our vision behind that was that we wanted more from this, and so that it’s more than just auctioning clothing on Instagram,” Barone said. “The first step we’ve taken with that is our Originals piece. We wanted to continue to connect communities on campus. We all think that there’s so many people doing cool things on campus… I think people here are very humble at UNC.”

The story-telling segment of Vintage Blue is titled ‘Originals.’ It has already featured three different people: Scott Diekema, who was involved in the creation of the Meantime Coffee Co., Psalms White, the founder of UNC’s first Black co-ed service fraternity Beta Nu Theta and Aaron Epps, the president of The Black Student Movement at UNC.

Another major goal of Vintage Blue is to give back to fashion and music organizations on campus that are underfunded and to sponsor social activist causes and events. The business is planning its first sponsorship to be with the It’s On Us campaign, a social movement created by former President Barack Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls to raise awareness and fight against sexual assault on college campuses. 

As for the future of the business, some things to look out for are podcasts, videos, visual aspects of storytelling and original Vintage Blue-designed clothing. It’s not just about the style — it’s about the story, the collective community, searching for the right business model and satisfying desired trends. 

“I think from my standpoint what to look forward to is to leave a legacy and hopefully carry us on even after we leave — for right now build it up so that we can get enough following to the point where it just keeps going on until we graduate and thereafter,” Zhou said. 


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