Homage inks deal with Donna Kelce to benefit Heights Schools Foundation

Homage inks deal with Donna Kelce to benefit Heights Schools FoundaVesler’s 16-year-old Columbus-based company, Homage, specializes in vintage and retro sportswear. One year after Homage became an official National Football League apparel licensee, Vesler added a hot brand name to his stable: Kelce.

Specifically, Donna Kelce, the well-known mother of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and the Philadelphia Eagles’ center Jason Kelce, graduates of Cleveland Heights High School. Homage has designed a T-shirt called “Mama Kelce Rooting for the Offense,” which depicts Donna Kelce in a shirt – half red, for Travis’ Chiefs and half green, for Jason’s Eagles.

Shirt.pngThe “Mama Kelce’s Rooting for the Offense Shirt” features a caricature of Donna Kelce, sporting a jersey representing both of the NFL teams her sons play for. Photo / Homage▲
The T-shirt is part of a promotion that will, in part, benefit the Heights Schools Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships, teacher grants and funds for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. Travis graduated in 2008 and Jason in 2006.

The shirt was officially unveiled Oct. 22 during the Eagles game against the Miami Dolphins.

Here’s how the deal happened:

“The Kelce brothers have a podcast called “New Heights,” Vesler told the Cleveland Jewish News. “And we are the merchandising partner of New Heights, so we have a relationship with them through that program. …. Jason’s manager also works with Donna and we thought it would be fun to do a shirt for Donna. Donna wanted to give back to the community, so there’s a percentage of proceeds that’s donated to Cleveland Heights Foundation.”

Vesler, who grew up in Berwick and lives in Reynoldsburg, both Columbus suburbs, thought the partnership with the Kelce family was a natural fit for Homage.

“They obviously have Ohio roots,” Vesler said. “And for us it’s an honor to work with them on the podcast. It’s a great opportunity for Homage to reach new customers.”

Vesler said “the response has been great” and at the moment there is no time limit on the Mama Kelce T-shirt promotion. Each shirt costs $36 an d can be purchased at homage.com.

Donna Kelce has become quite popular in the wake of her sons’ success, with Vesler becoming a fan in his own right.

“She is very kind,” said Vesler. “… She’s also known for carrying Kind bars in her purse. Everywhere she goes, she offers me a Kind bar.”

In a press release from the Heights Schools Foundation, Donna Kelce said she was “thrilled” when Vesler “popped into (the Oct. 22) game to surprise me with the final design of this T-shirt.”

“In our family, there is no favorite child, although Jason and Travis may like to joke otherwise,” she said in the release. “This design really captures what it’s like to be sandwiched between two incredibly talented, amazingly successful, and very, very competitive sons. I cheer them both on equally.

“Each is my favorite child. I’m so proud of all that they’ve accomplished and am privileged to be able to harness a small bit of their clout to give back to those in need, particularly to the Cleveland Heights community that gave so much to our young family as we were navigating how to raise two highly-energetic, heavily-scheduled boys.”

Vesler, who attended Columbus Academy and graduated from Ohio University in Athens, has grown his business via relationships with athletes in a variety of leagues. He also has gotten to know the Kelce brothers.

“I met Jason after a game,” Vesler said. “He gave me a big hug. He’s like a big teddy bear. And then I met Travis randomly at Cleveland Guardians opening day. He’s also very nice. Both brothers are very down-to-earth. Great people.”

Vesler has engineered athlete-specific collaborations with the likes of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. He said he constantly has other potential tie-ins percolating.

“Being an NFL licensee gives us access to a lot of content from games on Sunday. It’s one of the most popular sports in America,” Vesler said. “So, there’s a natural appetite for NFL products and being a partner of the league allows us to do these types of things. With a T-shirt, it is a canvas that can be decorated very quickly with relevant story lines, so that gives us the opportunity to get involved with a lot of different things. In this industry, relationships are everything. So, we try to operate with great integrity and be a great partner to everybody that we work with.”