Student starts Sconny, success since summer

Van Grunsven sets out to represent Wisconsin roots

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

The Tator
December 13, 2022


Van Grunsven sporting a Sconny hoodie with the company logo.

Forged through family and friends, Sconny Clothing Co. is a local business passionate about its roots, according to Ethan Van Grunsven, a second-year marketing student and the company’s founder.

Van Grunsven said the idea came to him last summer when he came to a realization:

“There isn’t a way to exclusively represent Wisconsin,” he said. “It’s always the Badgers, Packers or some other school or sports team.”

According to Van Grunsven, he bought materials and began in July with 150 T-shirts, a passion for business and a connection with his friends and teammates on the UW-Eau Claire football team.

After selling out of his initial inventory, Van Grunsven said Sconny truly began.

He said he began the legal work to own the business, settled on a logo with help from a family friend and started producing merchandise.

Van Grunsven is the first to admit that he’s had help. According to Van Grunsven, Vlado Duvnjak, second-year rehabilitations student, and Mason Hoffman, second-year finance student, have been pivotal to Sconny’s growth.

Duvnjak said Van Grunsven handles the day-to-day logistics, while he and Hoffman help with sales and marketing.

Friends and family alike have played a role in creating Sconny. Photography, marketing and logo designs have all been homegrown, according to Van Grunsven.

“The original photoshoots were using my mom’s camera,” Van Grunsven said. “I wasn’t sure what I was doing, I’d just point and shoot.”

Now, after the company has received local notoriety, Van Grunsven said the focus is shifting towards expanding, aiming towards Madison, La Crosse and other large cities.

According to Sconny’s website, its motto is “proudly represent your roots while representing ours.”

Van Grunsven said universal pride in Wisconsin roots and the concept of ‘home’ is what Sconny is most focused on.

“Whether home is a place or a people, Sconny is about supporting that,” he said. “Everyone from college kids and the old guy at your local bar, to parents or an elementary schooler could wear Sconny and represent their home in a stylish fashion.”

As a full-time college student, student-athlete and business owner, Van Grunsven said he’s busier than anticipated. School’s in the backseat for him, running Sconny can take up to four hours a day of his time.

There are a few different ways Hoffman said they’re trying to grow Sconny. Social media and word of mouth are two of them, but they’ve recently taken to Water Street’s bars as a third method.

On Saturday, Feb. 5, Sconny collaborated with Brother’s Bar, hosting a raffle-style giveaway. Buy a shot, get a ticket for a chance to win a free hoodie, according to Brother’s Instagram page.

Van Grunsven said he wanted to get out to Brother’s to meet potential customers, but he was too young to get past the bouncer.

Aside from this, he said the experience was positive overall and a good business decision.

“On our end, we’re giving up a hoodie,” he said. “They aren’t giving anything up except a place to hang a banner that people know and enjoy.”

According to Van Grunsven, the future of Sconny is statewide name recognition. He said he’s less interested in the money than building a brand people know and recognize as uniquely Wisconsin.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected].