Brandon Hundt said he "let hope creep in" when his design — a North Star and a snowflake on a deep blue background — was chosen last month as a finalist for Minnesota's next state flag.

Those hopes were dashed this week when the State Emblems Redesign Commission voted to eliminate his design from the running. But Hundt's concept is getting newfound support in the wake of the decision, as fans try to stake a claim on their preferred design — even if it won't fly as the official state flag.

"I was immediately asked: 'I want a T-shirt of this, I want a hat, or I want to fly this flag,'" said Hundt. "It's been cool to see this response."

The St. Paul product designer sketched out the concept for his flag — known as "starflake" among supporters — more than eight years ago, and he's been selling a T-shirt version of it for four years. Before the commission's decision, he hadn't done any promotion and sold only seven shirts. He's sold roughly 40 in the last few days.

The design is also getting a limited run printing by Flags For Good, a company run by designers. Michael Green, founder of Flags for Good, said the company has never sold a version of Minnesota's current flag, but it has promoted an alternative called the North Star flag for years.

It was designed decades ago by two Minnesotans who were pushing state legislators to consider a flag redesign. The North Star flag was submitted to the commission but didn't make it to the final rounds of consideration.

Still, Flags for Good has seen a boost in traffic from Minnesota and interest in both the starflake and North Star flag designs.

"We are uniquely in this weird business of selling alternatives to flags," said Green. "I think a lot of people aren't excited about the final three that were announced, so they're staking their claim."

The 13-member commission was created by the Legislature last session to redesign both the state flag and the seal after decades of criticism that the white settler imagery on both is offensive to tribal communities. The commission sought designs from the public, who submitted more than 2,600 alternatives for the state flag and seal.

The commission adopted a final seal design this week and narrowed six flag finalists to three. They could make their final choice at a meeting scheduled for Friday.

Hundt has been following the flag redesign effort for years and is glad there will be something new flying in 2024, even though it won't be his design.

"We're going to get a new flag and ultimately that is the most important thing, because the current flag is so bad," he said.

He thinks Minnesotans' response to the flag redesign process should encourage other cities and counties to reconsider their own flags and symbols. He's also created a redesign of the Minneapolis flag.

"I hope other municipalities see how engaged Minnesotans are in this process and think: 'This would be a good way to engage our community,'" he said.