Welcome to the new 19nine.com! First, a huge thank you goes out to our guys at Victory for turning our website into what you see today. They have been a pleasure to work with and we are extremely grateful for their input and help throughout this process.
The purpose of our revamp is to provide a better user experience for our customers and also to improve the ways we can bring you the best stories in the history of college basketball, the lifeblood of our existence. We aim to do this not just through our product but also through our blog, podcast, social media accounts and YouTube channel.
We look forward in sharing these with you as we grow. In the meantime, here is our story. We hope you enjoy the new website and cannot thank you enough for sticking with us through the early years until now.
Nostalgia, small part of a huge community. I've always considered myself a part of the basketball culture just through being a basketball junkie. I subscribed to SLAM from the jump, DIME too. I bought all the shoes, clothes, posters, books, etc that was directly related to basketball. I watched MJ and Pip do their thing nightly on WGN. And I grew up in the greatest decade of college basketball, the nineties. I was a basketball connoisseur. But I also wanted to be a basketball contributor.
Several years ago we decided to make a change in our philosophy. We had to ask ourselves some hard questions about what we were currently doing, was it working, and what the long term plan was. That weekend in February was the turning the point. We emerged from our hotel room as an exclusively college basketball brand. We followed our heart. 19nine wasn't a local t-shirt store. We didn't want to try to keep up with the comings and goings of the local scene. That wasn't what we were passionate about and had we continued going that route we would have failed. Instead, we followed our passion and narrowed our focus.
That decision has allowed 19nine to carve out our own small space in the basketball world and its culture. Without that decision the rest of the stuff I'm going to write about doesn't happen.
Getting to connect with people inside that basketball culture bubble is really fun. It's amazing to get to trade emails with Scoop Jackson, DM's with Doug Gottlieb, hop on the phone or trade texts with the guys at SLAM and Nice Kicks. Like really really f**king cool. We've also met some really cool people at the schools we represent. We owe the licensing departments at those schools everything. Literally, everything. Without them there would be no 19nine. We have great people behind all our products and that's not talking just about our team at 19nine. Every item we produce is one of our babies and it takes a village to bring each of those products to the consumer.
Equally as dope as connecting with people and companies we idolize is connecting with people that share our passion for college basketball. Every customer is a brand ambassador to us and we also have quite a few that help us with our research of the teams they are passionate about. Basketball nutjobs that we get to shoot the shit with on a daily basis. Doesn't matter if you've ever bought anything from us or not. If you have a thought about something 19nine or college basketball related we want to hear from you. It's really powerful being able to connect with everyone and also a lot of fun for us.
"This is something that can never be taken away from us." I've used this line so much within the company that it's become an inside joke. It is meant to serve as a reminder that no matter what happens with our company, succeed or fail, we are getting to experience some really cool shit along the way. Whether it be digging through the archives in Mackey Arena, flying to NYC to meet with the Big East, helping organize and pull off a "Whiteout" at Hinkle Fieldhouse, visiting with Coach Knight, or getting behind the scenes access to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest's facilities, we've gotten to do some stuff we will never forget.
Obviously, making money off what we do is important in the sense that it allows us to keep doing what we do but the experiences and people we meet along the way are far more valuable to us than any dollar amount.
Who doesn't see themselves as an underdog? It gives you the chip on your shoulder, helps you push through the hard times, and makes your successes that much sweeter. The truth is anybody that is starting a retail business of any kind is an underdog because of the odds stacked against their brand becoming successful. Cliff's: It's hard.
19nine was no different. When we relaunched as a college basketball brand we did so with very few pairs of shorts available and no new licensing on the horizon. We had to grind and we needed licensing departments to believe in our vision so we rebranded to set us up for the marathon instead of the sprint.
While we are still trying to expand our licensing the vision we had and the goals we set are starting to come into focus and be achieved. I would never say anything comes "easy" in terms of what we do but I feel comfortable in saying that more doors are starting to open for us as we continue to grow.
We owe that to the people we work with, the people we work for (our customers), and the people that carried us through the lean years at the beginning which was mostly friends and family.
19nine is working our asses off to make it not only for ourselves but for you. For all the people that have stuck with us even though we don't have your favorite school, for all the support everyone has shown, we want to pay you back by continuing to grow, continuing to release dope products, and continuing to connect with other basketball junkies around the country.
Stick with us. College Vault is coming...