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Love Your Melon, popular Minneapolis hat and beanie maker, bought by New York firm

Beanie maker Love Your Melon, formed a decade ago by University of St. Thomas students and known for its benefits for cancer research, is being bought by a New York fashion brand aggregator.

The deal was announced Tuesday after the buyer, Win Brands Group, raised $40 million in new investment capital for the purchase. However, Win did not specify how much he would pay for Love Your Melon.

Founders Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller launched Love Your Melon while still in college. They aimed to raise money and support children who are fighting cancer.

Love Your Melon has since donated a portion of its profits totaling more than $9 million to groups fighting childhood cancer. She has also donated more than 235,000 of her hats to children with cancer and their loved ones.

Research shows that many consumers are drawn to mission-driven brands. According to a 2020 study by communications agency Zeno Group, global consumers are four times more likely to buy from a company they believe has a strong purpose.

In an interview, Quinn said the company would benefit from the resources of a larger company.

“Doing everything on our own with no experience…it was tough and we started thinking about who would be a good partner in this area,” Quinn said.

Quinn and Keller have been thinking about a potential sale for years. They now hope to sell Love Your Melon products in big box retail stores and create a better presence on Amazon.co.uk. They also want to make production more efficient and improve profit margins so the brand can continue to give back to the community.

“I think it will propel us to growth,” Quinn said. “I think we’re going to grow significantly with them…and be able to donate millions more.”

Many of Love Your Melon’s beanies are made in Mendota Heights, but sometimes the company can’t make enough beanies to keep up with demand. Quinn said the company wanted to supplement production by hiring contractor companies.

The company would also expand with items that can be worn in warmer months, such as bucket hats, Quinn said.

On its website, Win Brands said it provides its business units with services that include digital marketing, product sourcing, accounting, and finance. He also owns weighted blanket brand Gravity, home fragrance and candle company Homesick, and silicone wedding ring maker QALO.

Love Your Melon merchandise has grown from beanies to clothing, homewares and face masks.

Through licensing partnerships with Disney, Marvel and more, Love Your Melon has also been able to create special selections, such as Harry Potter-themed beanies and the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

“Love Your Melon is a terrific addition to our portfolio and is emblematic of what we look for in the businesses we acquire,” Kyle Widrick, CEO and co-founder of Win Brands, said in a statement.

Love Your Melon, which employs 25 people primarily in Minneapolis, plans to continue to have a presence in Minnesota, with Quinn and Keller still leading the organization.

His North Loop “Build Your Own Beanie (BYOB)” studio in Minneapolis will close at the end of February, however. The company plans to launch a mobile beanie store that will travel across the country. He is looking for a local storage space where he can hold events.