Utah Jazz: In Seer Clothing, Korver has vision

Published January 30, 2010 9:12 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Even if the name was the idea of Kyle Korver's father, the vision behind Seer Clothing was entirely that of the Jazz guard, who saw the launching of a T-shirt line as the way to leave a legacy from his NBA career.

After two years of work, Kyle and his brother Klayton took Seer online last month. Through the sale of T-shirts that Kyle helped design, the hope is to expand the reach of his foundation and enhance its mission.

"We're not sure where it's going to go, but we think that we're doing the right thing, so hopefully it takes off," Klayton said.

Kyle created Seer with the idea of moving beyond the golf fund-raisers and private donations that have sustained his foundation, which works with underprivileged children and those in need, to a model that could continue to grow after his playing days.

"I know it's something he's serious about and passionate about," Deron Williams said. "He's moved some people to help him, so I know it's something he wants to continue to do."

From his work with a group of inner-city kids in Philadelphia during his time with the 76ers, Korver came up with seven values that he tried to stress -- from honor and strength to peace and knowledge -- and set out to design a shirt symbolizing each.

As a result, Seer has 16 different shirts -- one for each value, plus one for the brand, in both men's and women's designs. The Korver brothers printed 1,300 shirts on their own, but gained the support of surfwear icon Bob Hurley going forward after a meeting last summer.

In the month-plus since SeerClothing.com launched, the Korvers have sold a couple hundred shirts, according to Klayton. They are priced at $24.99 each, with all proceeds fed back into the Kyle Korver Foundation.

"We're not trying to just go into any store and throw our shirts everywhere," said Kyle, who has largely marketed them through Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth. "We feel like we have a really good product and we want to do it right.

"If we do that, take the small steps in the beginning and do them all well, we feel like the longer we'll have a product that'll be going for a long time."

Starting with his work at the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Philadelphia, Korver's foundation has grown to include projects with a Boys and Girls Club in Omaha, Neb., where he played at Creighton, as well as in Salt Lake City since coming to the Jazz.

After meeting with a local contractor, Korver started Seer Group, a non-profit construction company dedicated to helping those in need. Earlier this month, Seer Group built a ramp for the family of a 10-year-old South Jordan girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

Angela Baker saw something about Seer Group in a newsletter from her daughter's special-needs school. Having bought her daughter, Ashlee Westover, a new wheelchair in early December, she called asking about assistance in building a ramp.

Barely weeks later, the job was complete. Baker remembers calling around Christmas, with Seer visiting her home and approving the project in a matter of days. "You don't know how thankful we are," Baker said.

"It's almost unbelievable," she added, "because I look out and I take her down that ramp to school and get her off the bus and take her up the ramp and it's like, 'Wow.' Just how fast everything happened and how blessed we are."

On the foundation Web site, the Korvers set a goal of selling 40 shirts to raise money for the ramp. Baker was stunned to hear that Seer Group didn't want anything in return except for the names of other people who needed help.

"Just to hear like that is like, 'Whoa,' " she said. "We're so small in this big world. It's pretty awesome. We feel really big."

Klayton welcomes inquires from those in need at klayton@kylekorverfoundation.com" Target="_BLANK">klayton@kylekorverfoundation.com. "We just want people to know that people care about them and that they're important," he said.

Not that it was easy for Kyle to launch both the clothing and construction companies given his Jazz schedule. Klayton, the oldest of his three brothers and a former college player at Drake, moved to Utah in September 2009 to run the day-to-day operations.

"It was a little bit stressful for sure," Kyle said. "We're still figuring things out in both of them, but we feel like we're finally getting to the point where we can breathe a little bit because they're starting to bear some fruit."

Kyle opted for the name Seer, which was suggested by his father, and defines it as "a visionary or prophet who gives pictures or images to inspire social change." The images are the designs on the shirts, the change will come from their sale.

For each shirt, Kyle defined what the value means to him. It is written into the space where the tag goes on each shirt. Honor, in his words, means, "You don't always take the easy road. Sometimes, doing what is right means being willing to stand alone."

Klayton, meanwhile, has navigated everything the world of manufacturing and selling shirts entails, from copyrights to insurance to marketing. Kyle offered suggestions as well as revisions for the designs, which were produced by an Orlando, Fla., company.

Thanks to a connection, the Korvers were able to meet last summer with Hurley, who will produce future runs of Seer shirts at cost. "He was really cool and he liked what Kyle said and he's like, 'If we can help you out, then we would like to,'" Klayton said.

They waited until December to officially launch Seer while Kyle recovered from the knee surgery that derailed his start to the season. The first day they were online, Kyle joked that Klayton kept hitting refresh on his computer and announcing each sale.

There are plans to take Seer into stores as well as to print a second run of shirts and start creating new designs. Someday, Kyle hopes to be able to announce a project on his foundation site and set a goal for a number of shirts to sell to fund it.

"The day we see someone wearing them walking down the street, then that'll be a really cool day for sure," Kyle said.

rsiler@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">rsiler@sltrib.com

Seer Clothing

» Founded by Kyle and Klayton Korver, went online in December

» Selling designer T-shirts for $24.99 each at seerclothing.com

» All proceeds benefit the Kyle Korver Foundation

» Korver's foundation does work in Philadelphia, Omaha, Neb., and Salt Lake City

» Shirts typically run about a size smaller than normal T-shirts



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