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Super Bowl But Make It Local: Inside the NFL Origins Shop

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Walanya Vongsvirates considers herself and her small business, Love, Hand and Heart, part of the Las Vegas downtown arts community. She often sets up local pop-ups there to sell her colorful, handmade jewelry.

She was surprised last year when she got an unexpected email from the NFL, asking if she’d be interested in creating official NFL merchandise for Super Bowl 58. “You should have seen my face when I saw that email,” Vongsvirates told ADWEEK. “I was like, ‘No way. How?’”

She made approximately 300 pairs of earrings and 200 keychains to sell at the NFL’s Origins pop-up shop in Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend.

“To have this opportunity, to be able to bring handmade art at this scale, was just unbelievable. So they reached out I knew and no matter what it took, I really wanted to make sure that I could make a handmade collection for this,” she said. “I spent probably like November, December, really doing nothing else but creating.”

The NFL partners with local artisans to sell custom merch

The Super Bowl draws tens of thousands of visitors to its host cities each year, creating a boon for local businesses in the game’s vicinity that benefit from more foot traffic.

The Origins pop-up extends that economic impact to local artisans. Its annual event is a platform where they can sell custom Super Bowl-branded gear and receive national attention. The NFL sanctions the merchandise and runs marketing campaigns for its chosen artisans.

“Origins and NFL Collection is an ongoing collaboration program that provides an opportunity for local designers in NFL event host cities to create and sell Super Bowl-themed merchandise that highlights their creative process and connection to the community,” said Xaimara Coss, the NFL’s director of licensing and retail.

The NFL set up its first Origins pop-up at Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles. Last year, Origins returned at Super Bowl 57 in Arizona, and again this year at Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.

Last spring, Coss worked with Ashley Daniel, a senior marketing manager at the NFL, to hand-pick the three artists featured at the Las Vegas event. They considered each brand’s footprint, community impact and ties to Las Vegas. There was Feature—a multi-brand boutique founded by three Las Vegans; the sneaker resale and consignment shop, Urban Necessities; and Vongvirates’ Love, Hand and Heart.

“We selected brands that we felt weren’t too big. We want to help these brands grow. That’s the idea of Origins—leaving these brands in a better place when when the NFL leaves their city,” Coss said.

The experience is different for every artisan. While the opportunity came to Vongvirates unexpectedly, Kim Johnson, a member of Feature’s creative team, had pursued an NFL partnership.

“There was a lot on my plate, but I wanted everything to have a different story,” he said. He tied all the partnerships together with a shared theme—the Las Vegas experience.

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