On October 13, Campus ink hosted a live merch sale and private signing event in celebration of Andre Curbelo’s birthday. Curbelo, Illinois Point Guard and 2020 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, signed an exclusive NIL deal with Campus Ink earlier this fall. The Campus Ink Lab opened its doors at 9am for fans, students, friends, and teammates to shop his newest merch release.
From 3pm-5pm there was a private signing/meet and greet for 80 people with a pre-purchased ticket and time slot. The private signing was $20 a ticket and included two autographed pieces, pictures, and a chance to meet Curbelo.
At Campus Ink, we are beyond excited to push boundaries with our clients and explore a new world in which college fans can directly support their favorite student-athletes. On July 30th we officially signed Curbelo to be a Campus Ink NIL athlete. Since then, Curbelo has had three separate limited merch releases.
October 12, the night before the event, the Campus Ink team worked to transform The Lab (Campus Ink’s retail presence on UofI’s Campus) into the Belo Birthday Merch store.
Campus Ink Co-Owner, Steven Farag, and NIL Student Director, Joey Hartz, worked to coordinate production and retail sales for the new release.
Campus Ink Student Designers at Illinois as well as their directors covered walls and windows with life-size posters of Belo, hung up “Happy 20 Bday Belo” balloons on the wall, strung Puerto Rican flags across the ceiling and much more.
One poster drawn by Student Designer, Emily Hazen, on procreate, was printed life-size and hung. Others included graphics from the apparel, custom “Happy Birthday” graphics, and designs from the last release. Transformed into Belo’s personal Merch Sale Event and Birthday Party, the Lab was ready for the big day and so was the team.
We celebrated by welcoming Curbelo for a private dinner and signing event before the big launch.
Throughout the day customers of all ages come into the Lab to shop Belo’s new collection and meet him. There were college students, parents, grandparents, children, and all of his teammates came to support him. A reporter from the newspaper came to document the event and chat with Curbelo.
The Lab doors opened at 9 am sharp but there were customers lined up starting at 8:15 am to see Belo. As soon as the doors opened customers came in to browse, hang out, chat with Curbelo and purchase apparel. It was great to see his teammates and him interacting with their fans. Curbelo showed his gratitude to each and every customer.
Cregan Billhymer, Lead Printer at Campus Ink, printed all of the apparel, making sure it ran seamlessly. This launch included 4 t-shirts, 2 jerseys, and 4 sweatshirt options/designs. The fan favorite was the tan Illinois hoodie with puff paint ink, a number 5 on the hoodie, Belo’s cartoon head on the sleeve, and Belo's signature printed on the bottom right side. The second fan fav was his Champagne Papi Drake album inspired tee. Instead of Champagne Papi like Drake, it was changed to Champaign Papi, for Champaign, IL.
Clubhouse Athletic, operated by Adam LaVitola and Nick Winter, created custom Belo jerseys. One in orange and one in white which were also very popular. Belo’s girlfriend created a design for him with his cartooned face and his nickname ‘El Mago’ (The Magician) incorporated.
Almost every single teammate came to support Belo on his first live merch event.. It was great to see the support and be able to connect with the other Illinois basketball players. Since Belo’s live sale event 10 out of the 15 players are now building their brand as well with Campus Ink.
Never before have #NCAA Student-Athletes have been able to be hosts or create events like these. Now, with the #NIL laws and our local partnerships, we look to help build student-athlete brands by creating unique and personal experiences with their fans. While merchandise will always be a part of what we do, it's only one of the many ways in which we help our clients grow. We are beyond excited to push boundaries with our clients and explore an exciting new world in which college fans can directly support their favorite student-athletes.