Kendall Hurns’ journey started in Chicago where he learned to navigate the city streets and developed a love of basketball. Although he spent his formative years downtown, his mother relocated to the suburbs when he was young, settling in Calumet City, Ill.
It was there that he took a part-time job as a teenager at a local McDonald’s to earn some spending money. “My mom told me, ‘You’ve got to buy your own stuff,’” he said.
It was while he was in high school that he met Eddie Curry, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls right out of high school in 2001. Curry asked Hurns to manage him, so even though he had no experience in sports management, he decided to skip college and take the plunge. “We had no clue, but we trusted each other,” he said.
The decision paid off, and Hurns spent the next 13 years managing some big names in sports including Andre Iguodala, an NBA All-Star, MVP and Olympic Gold medalist.
“I did that for years, but being a creative at heart, I didn’t like it as much. My love for basketball was dwindling, and at that time, there weren’t a lot of guys doing things off the court. I struggled for a while with what to do and then I decided to start over and jump into the creative space.”
So in 2006, he founded Robotic Minds Concepts, a streetwear-inspired brand that creates exclusive, limited-edition apparel and art prints featuring sports stars. “It was more of a hobby for a long time,” he said, “but as time went on, it became more of a business.”
It didn’t hurt that his former client, Iguodala, was photographed wearing the collection, as was superstar LeBron James. In fact, this led to an official collaboration with James’ Unknwn retail stores in Miami and Ohio, as well as online. The T-shirts and hoodies feature a generic basketball and the Robotic Minds signature logo: a square with two circles in the center. That same logo made an appearance on the special commemorative T-shirt Hurns designed for Iguodala’s retirement.
In addition to his apparel collection, Hurns also operates Arte Haus in Chicago, where he draws on his sports management experience to serve in a similar role for local artists, including Hebru Brantley.
Although Arte Haus is his main business, Hurns continues to flex his creative muscle with Robotic Minds Concept. And earlier this year, he was tapped by McDonald’s to create a limited-edition Letterman jacket for the company’s 1 in 8 promotion — it references the fact that one in eight Americans has worked at a McDonald’s. The jacket, made from Melton wool and with leather sleeves, features illustrations of Speedee, McDonald’s first mascot, intended to symbolize fast service, as well as McDonald’s Crew and Coast to Coast embellishments.
McDonald’s provided the jacket to a number of its former employees and also offered it for sale on its website.
The McDonald’s project helped Hurns scratch his creative itch as does his work with Robotic Minds. Although he has hesitated to offer his collection wholesale, it’s something he would consider in the future. “It’s direct-to-consumer and I’ll do pop-ups and different collaborations, but I haven’t pushed the button on wholesale,” he said. “Now I can control how it’s received and the price, but if I sell it to others, I can’t do that.”