Alumni in Action: Hawthorne ’21, Hess ’21 and Veilleux ’21 spread their positive message during the pandemic

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, three Elon alumni found an opportunity to spread a positive message by co-founding a merchandise company focused on the importance of interpersonal connections.

Stephen Hawthorne ’21, Sean Hess ’21 and Andrew Veilleux ’21 launched their apparel company Good to See You amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to bring joy to others during an unusual time.

Their masks and clothing items were branded with their slogan, “Good to See You,” serving as more than just a catchphrase but a reminder of hope.

“We believe that this saying, which was once such a passive, subconscious greeting, now carries so much more weight and importance in a world recovering from social isolation. With this phrase, we hope to remind everyone of the importance of interpersonal connection and spread a message of hope as we all navigate this new normal,” said Veilleux.

Hawthorne, Hess and Veilleux were very involved students while at Elon, with each holding on-campus jobs and being active members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Adding something else to their plate could have been challenging, but they understood the importance of what they had just created.

They have seen great success with Good to See You and have sold more than 1,500 masks with the help of several retail locations around campus. The sales of these masks helped keep people safe and spread their positive message.

“We were able to help bring the Elon campus together in what was such a distant time to be a college student,” Veilleux said. “Through our work with Elon Dining, The Oak House, BoHo Blu and other local coffee shops and stores, we were able to share an uplifting message and bring a smile to people’s faces underneath the mask.”

Hawthorne, Hess and Veilleux learned valuable lessons in the classroom that were transferable to the start-up. Each of them learned various skills in their three different majors, business analytics, entrepreneurship and marketing.

“In my classes with the Business Fellows, our professors always pushed us to work collectively to get different perspectives on a project or task. These were the most valuable skills I picked up in my classes, and they have a strong correlation with the skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur,” Veilleux said.

Elon’s support was not limited to what they were taught in the classroom. They had assistance from The Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Acorn Fund and mentorship from Doherty Center Director Alyssa Martina. All of these supports helped Good To See You grow into what it is today.

“The Acorn Fund was able to provide us our first investment and we were able to use it to get our business off the ground and order our first round of masks,” Hawthorne said. “The Doherty Center helped us network with other entrepreneurs and Alyssa Martina was always there to provide guidance and motivation, and point us in the right direction as we navigated the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.”

Reflecting on their time at Elon, the trio credit some of their success to the connections they made while they were still on-campus. Today, they encourage future students to get out there and involve themselves in on-campus activities and organizations.

“Meet as many people as possible and get involved with as much as you can as you’re acclimating to campus. From there, some of your best friendships and experiences will sprout and continue to grow throughout your Elon journey,” Veilleux said. “From a professional side, I would recommend starting your connection with the wonderful Student Professional Development Center staff early on in your Elon career. The advisors want to help you reach your internship and post-graduate goals and take the time to get to know you if you are willing to meet with them.”

Although all three are now alumni with full-time jobs and living in different cities, it is not the end of Good To See You. In fact, the future of the brand is looking rather bright and its goals are continuously evolving.

“Now that we are strictly selling online and we know our target demographic, we are looking to grow our brand in terms of exposure and products,” Hess said.

The transition from being a student-run business plus the separation from their two interns, who are currently Elon students, have forced Good To See You to pivot its game plan and adapt it for their new lives. A pivot that has been made smoothly as they have continued to expand.

“We went from a small local college brand selling primarily in-person, to a full-scale e-commerce business selling our clothing across the U.S.,” Veilleux said. “We knew we had to take a big step to keep the brand alive as alumni, so we have taken on a significant advertising campaign in order to expand our reach and continue to grow brand awareness.”

Hawthorne, Hess and Veilleux are excited to see where they can take Good to See You and hope to continue spreading positivity with their brand. Good to See You merchandise can be purchased online.