The scoop on Sconny Co.

Sconny Co’s Ethan Van Grunsven talks about the past, present and future of his company

Samantha Geiger (She/Her)

More stories from Samantha Geiger (She/Her)

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©Amaya McCann

Ethan Van Grunsven, the owner of Sconny Co., sporting Sconny Co. beige t-shirt with red and black Wisconsin stitching.

EAU CLAIRE- The past is forming the company, the present is selling apparel and the future is expanding it to so much more. 

Ethan Van Grunsven, a second-year marketing student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, talked about his experience with starting up Sconny Co. and how it came to be. He and his friend wanted to show their love for Wisconsin through unique apparel.  

“Most know that I am an all-Wisconsin sports fan, I always love wearing their gear,” Van Grunsven said. “But it truly all started last year when a friend and I came up with the idea of starting a brand revolving around the love of Wisconsin.”

His friend, later on, ended up backing out of the business, which put it on the back burner for a while. About a few months later, Van Grunsven, after talking with his family, decided to take the risk and start up the company. 

After working out the legal stuff to make sure he and his business is protected, he started out by buying T-shirts and fabric from the local JOANN Fabrics. The first Sconny Co. apparel was T-shirts with a plaid Wisconsin shape stitched in the middle. 

“I will always vividly remember my first sale, it was in the first week of launching,” Van Grunsven said. “I went up to this guy decked out in Green Bay Packer gear, he was perfect. We struck up a conversation and I asked him if he liked my t-shirt, he responded saying yeah and that it was definitely something he would buy, the next thing I knew I had my first sale.”

Almost immediately, Van Grunsven had people wondering when he would come out with sweatshirts and other apparel. After thinking about it for a while, he said he decided to stick with the embroidery-only mindset when it came to coming out with sweatshirts. 

Naomi Lloyd, a second-year accounting student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said one of her good friends, Cal Tanner, introduced her to Van Grunsven when he had begun making the sweatshirts. 

“I of course bought one to support a new friend,” Lloyd said. “I absolutely love my hoodie and I have a crewneck too. They’re super nice, thick material and super soft on the inside, I definitely plan on buying from them in the future.” 

Another customer, Kendra VandenHeuvel, met Van Grunsven through her roommate who is friends with him. She immediately got a sweatshirt and received lots of compliments from people and said she can’t wait to buy from them in the future as they are definitely affordable.

Since starting up, he makes about 100 sales a month all mainly in the Midwest with the farthest in Austin, Texas and Connecticut as well as one University of Wisconsin-Madison basketball player,  Johnny Davis, who wore it during a tournament in Milwaukee

“It’s kind of funny to see how many Minnesotans purchase apparel from me,” Van Grunsven said. “I have friends who are die-hard Minnesota sports fans that will proudly wear a Sconny sweatshirt.” 

Van Grunsven said he does a lot of his marketing through word by mouth as well as social media. 

Taylor Veirtel is a customer who found out about them through word of mouth pretty early on. She said she loves her sweatshirt and will definitely plan on buying more from them in the future. 

“I am especially excited for their ball caps to come out because I will definitely be getting one,” Veirtel said. 

While Van Grunsven founded and formed the company, he said he has been grateful for his team of people helping him run his business. 

This team includes Vlado Duvnjak, a second-year rehabilitation science student who handles everyday logistics,  Mason Hoffman, a second-year finance student who helps Van Grunsven with sales and marketing, as well as Giana Giarusso, who runs the social media accounts. 

There are a few fake Sconny Co. Instagram pages out there, one being Sconny Coo. Van Grunsven reports each fake account that comes his way but overall he said he almost finds it funny that people want to try and copy him. 

When asked where he sees his business in the next five years, he didn’t hesitate to say:

“There is no tomorrow as far as I’m concerned,” Van Grunsven said. “I don’t know what the future holds but I do know what I hope will happen. As of right now, I’m just trying to live in the moment and have fun with it.” 

Eventually, Van Grunsven said he would like Sconny Co. to be in every major city in Wisconsin as a shop where he can sell not only his apparel but also other things like fishing poles, beer and so much more. 

“If I had to give anybody advice it would be that if you have an idea for anything, it could be starting a business or something else, roll the dice and take the risk because you won’t know if it’ll work until you actually try it,” Van Grunsven said. 

If you are interested in supporting this business, you can visit their website here. Geiger can be reached at [email protected]