Hungry for More: Behind Allegheny Student Abraham Duncan’s Brand-Building
For many students, school is a full-time job. But for Abraham Duncan, a junior at Allegheny College, school wasn’t enough. He was inspired during his freshman year to create something that was an extension of himself — Never Go Hungry, a brand and an online clothing store that both represented what he believed in and would create a community to help people achieve their goals.
“I knew that I always wanted to create something that was uniquely me and that also had a message behind it,” he said. “I center a lot of my products around my love of music and food because those are two things that I am passionate about, as well as two major things that bring all walks of life together, no matter what,” Duncan said.
Originally from Orange, New Jersey, Duncan is a double major in English and art and technology with a minor in global health studies. He chose the name for his brand, Never Go Hungry, based on experiences he and his friends had their first year on campus.
Duncan recalled how he and his friends did not manage their meal plans well and, as a result, their balances ran low. Together, they developed a community of support to ensure that everyone had enough to eat. While Duncan acknowledged that, in retrospect, they could have handled things differently and sought out other resources at the College, the power of their collaboration nevertheless made a lasting impression.
“That sense of having people to help lift you up as you try to achieve your goal has always stuck with me,” Duncan said. “For me, Never Go Hungry means that not only are you never giving up, but you are working your hardest to never go hungry — as cliché as that sounds. Without my friends and the people on campus, NGH would be nothing. They are the ones who bought my products first and believe in me and the message that I am trying to get across to the world.”
Since creating the brand, Duncan has included people in the campus community not only as a way of marketing his brand, but also to further others’ personal endeavors. His friends are also his photographers, models and designers, and they offer constructive feedback and advice when he needs it.
“Never Go Hungry was built to help create opportunities for everyone, and though it’s still new,” Duncan said. “I think that not only is my message starting to get across — but we are living by it.”
Integrating his college life and business-building has been an easy link to make for Duncan, who uses skills he learns in his classes to improve his brand management. On the flip side, his brand motivates him to work harder in his classes. Duncan is also the event coordinator for the African Students Association on campus and works as a DJ for various clubs, organizations and people on campus, and those involvements all have an effect on his brand.
“Allegheny has all the necessary tools for an art student to fully express themselves without having to cut corners and without people in the other departments having to cut corners,” Duncan says. “I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity this campus and people here have given me thus far.”
Duncan’s brand also represents who he is through the communities it helps. In October he donated 15 percent of his sales to breast cancer awareness, and as the business grows, he intends to permanently donate a percentage of his sales to cancer research in honor of his grandmother, who passed away from lung cancer. Furthermore, Duncan and his mother have been working on a nonprofit to help inner-city boys with reading and writing.
“I grew up in an inner-city environment and I understand how hard it is for boys to be able to express themselves,” Duncan said. “I am really excited for this, and I think it will have a big impact in the our community back home; that’s only the start though.”
In the future, Duncan aspires to open an inclusive Never Go Hungry store and workshop.
“I want to create an environment in which the NGH message is alive and people are able to constantly add and feed off of it — a safe place for people of all genders, races, religions, whatever their preferences are,” Duncan said. “It’s a grand idea, but I would like for there to be studios in the back so that people — and more importantly, kids — have a place to express themselves. I am excited for the future of NGH. It’s a lot, but I believe I can make it a reality.”