Some might say the phrase “Bad Ass Buckeye” is crass; others, catchy. But when it is printed in bold on a poster at the bus stop, it catches curious students’ eyes.
Pictured on the poster was a hat with those three words front and center. Underneath was printed “firstname.lastname@example.org” — a way to reach the creator.
Santanna Huff, a third-year in fashion and retail studies, is the brains behind the business. The desk in her room at Jones Tower is stacked with beanies in five different colors: red, black, gray, green and pink. Huff sells them for $15 apiece, a price she thinks is affordable to students, who she said are her target customers. She takes orders via email and direct messages through her Instagram account of @badassbuckeye.
Huff’s father worked hard to help her reach her goal of owning a business.
She said she and her father were very close and worked together laying the groundwork for the business that would one day become Bad Ass Buckeye. One day she created the original hat for herself and was surprised by the positive response.
“I didn’t think it was a hat line for everybody at first,” she said. “I just wanted something for me — something different.”
Last year, Huff’s father died from cancer. She said after losing him, she needed a break from starting up her business.
It was in remembrance of him that Huff said she felt driven to finally take a leap of faith and launch Bad Ass Buckeye.
“I kept refraining … I didn’t know how people were going to react to it,” Huff said. “And when that happened to my dad I said, ‘Why not? Why not just go for it?’ I think he’s my inspiration and my drive.”
Late last year, she created her first products and brought them back from her home in Cincinnati to Ohio State. Huff said she realized the business could really be successful when she wore her hat after the national championship game.
She said a man in his 40s approached her and asked where he could get one.
Huff has since sold a number of hats, and said her favorite part about running the business is watching people’s reactions.
Jada Smith, an owner of a Bad Ass Buckeye hat and a third-year in sport industry said, “I wore my hat during the winter season often, got a lot of stares, mostly people asking me where I got it from.”
Huff laughed lightheartedly as she described her business as edgy, bold and sophisticated.
“It acts with the school spirit as well,” she said. “People are passionate about Buckeyes at Ohio State.”
Smith said she believes the rebellious nature of the phrase gives the hat appeal, too.
“I’ll get texts from friends and family like, ‘Where did you get your hat?! I want that!’” she said.
Huff said she hopes to create more than just hats, and is taking steps to make shirts this summer. She said she someday she would like to see everyone in a Bad Ass Buckeye hat.