Bethel alumni created Kingdom Clothing based on the motto “kingdom first and people second”.
By Hannah Hunhoff
The vintage clothing industry has captured the hearts and minds of young Minnesota natives looking to add fashionable clothing to their wardrobe. Three Bethel University alumni, Peyton Gallagher ’21, Alex Hunter ’16, and AJ Barrett ’21, along with Hopkins High School senior Sam Gausmann, have taken a community-centric approach to this fashion trend. The four-person team owns and operates a vintage clothing company, Kingdom Clothing, which sells vintage items from the 1970s to the 2000s and champions a community rooted in “belonging, connectedness and love”.
When Kingdom Clothing’s lead founder, Gallagher, wrote the words “Kingdom Clothing” in his diary in April 2020, he had no idea that one day the brand would offer six different collections of vintage clothing and serve as a bridge for gospel-centered conversations. From the brand’s frequent pop-up shops and vintage apparel offerings on sports, college, nature and music themes, it has garnered significant support from the Bethel community.
“Kingdom Clothing wouldn’t have started if we hadn’t all been… somehow connected through Bethel,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher began attending Bethel in 2017, majoring in business marketing and minoring in biblical and theological studies. During its freshman and sophomore years, Gallagher also began selling Lululemon, Patagonia, and other popular brands on Poshmark and eBay.
Gallagher’s savings business grew during his freshman year of college in 2019 when he partnered with two other Bethel students: Levi Scott and Max Janes, who also had experience in the sale of clothes. When the pandemic sent Bethel students home for the March 2020 school year, Gallagher found time off to consider the future of his resale business.
“I was in my room one day and I was like… what do I want to do?” Gallagher said. “I was just praying, like, okay, what if we make it a business?”
Kingdom Clothing officially premiered on April 19, 2020. Gallagher, Janes, and Scott got together at Janes’ garage this summer and encouraged people to drop off any clothing donations. For the first month, Scott played a major role in the start-up phase of the business, but then decided to leave Kingdom Clothing and pursue his endeavors elsewhere.
Later that summer, Gallagher began working at the PULSE Movement, an evangelical nonprofit, as a preaching and church relations intern. At PULSE, he met his supervisor, Hunter, and befriended photography intern, Barret.
Throughout the PULSE stage, Hunter began expressing his support for Kingdom Clothing. Somewhere between April and July 2020, Gallagher recalls catching on to the vintage clothing trend and switching to selling mostly vintage clothing. Hunter joined Kingdom Clothing over the summer, with AJ officially joining the team in August 2021.
Selecting a “timeless font that had wear similar to vintage clothing” and a crown that represented “justice and right standing with God”, Hunter created Kingdom Clothing’s distinct logo and other branding work.
The first Kingdom Clothing pop-up store took place in July 2020. Gallagher recalls earning around $3,000. Being “blown away by the result,” Gallagher ordered pizza and played basketball in the backyard to celebrate.
Kingdom Clothing held their second pop-up event in August 2020 at one of their friends’ garages in Arden Hills, which exceeded their expectations and sold $10,000 worth of clothing.
“At the very beginning, when we started, we focused more on running a business, building a brand, identifying our markets and creating a family atmosphere,” Hunter said. ” And since, [we have been] by uttering the expression “the kingdom before the clothes”.
Janes was Gallagher’s “senior partner”, running social media and performing other day-to-day duties until his departure. There is a whole community of individuals who have been instrumental in the growth of Kingdom Clothing, including Hunter’s wife, Carlee, who started the “Rework Collection” and Christi Waldo, who helped with media graphics social since October 2021.
Kingdom Clothing quickly moved its pop-ups from home garages to more professional spaces in downtown Minneapolis. One of the highlights of Kingdom Clothing’s pop-up shops was their free professional photoshoots led by Barrett, which built on his commitment to building community. Brand supporter and photographer Marissa Zepecki filled in the pop-up photo shoots when Barrett was unavailable.
“My favorite memory at a pop-up store recently was being able to do a mini photo shoot with my friends to create content [for] all Kingdom Clothing merchandise for assignments,” said senior Alex Lewandowski.
The vast Kingdom Clothing community has placed Gallagher and Hunter in a position to live out their faith and build the kingdom of God. Hunter said Kingdom Clothing has the opportunity “to be a light in an area that is truly unchurched, unreached and unloved”.
“We’re in a season and a time where we have to meet people where they are and vintage clothing has just been this beautiful doorway into this whole new community that I didn’t even know was in the Twin Cities,” Hunter said. .
In the summer of 2021, Hunter and Gallagher’s full-time ministerial roles intensified and led them to hire Gaussman in September, who previously owned a vintage clothing company called “Vintage Klothing”.
Today, Kingdom Clothing has shipped to every state in the United States, grown to over 25,000 Instagram followers, and posts 100-150 new items to its website every week.
Gallagher believes Kingdom Clothing will exist “as long as a community continues to engage with it”. Kingdom Clothing hopes to remain strongly tied to its roots in Bethel, where it originally began, and its motto “Kingdom First, People Second” will continue to guide its business practices.