Creative Vision Officer Trent Johnson of Greeley Hat Works
One of the most interesting people in the world of rodeo, ranching and western fashion, the always stylish Creative Vision Officer and owner of Greeley Hat Works never fails to disappoint. Join us as Trent Johnson tells us about his childhood, his joy in entrepreneurship and thinking outside of the box and how all of this helps him promote the western lifestyle in ranching, rodeo and western fashion!
How it All Began!
Entrepreneurship was an early start for Trent, where he started his own lawn mowing business. Nothing was ever given to Trent, even starting at this young age. In fact, his own parents CHARGED him to lease the lawnmower that he used to make the money until he made enough money to buy his own. By the end of high school, he was sponsored by Bex Sunglasses AND he had hired some of his peers to work for him, trading them sunglasses for their work. Heading to college to be in business school, he sold the lawn mowing business to one of his younger peers.
Podcast Bonus Story: How his parents shaped his early entrepreneurship. “My parents are the most awesome jerks.”
Going to College
Elementary education with a minor in psychology was the route that Trent went after failing to get into business school. While he enjoyed working with the students, he had a hard time with the parents that were involved with the students.
“I had been taking my hats out to Greeley Hat Works to be shaped,” Trent explains as how he met the family behind Greeley Hat Works. He had always been obsessed with hats and he saved all his vacation money to buy all the hats in every country that he could go to.
“I am so not normal! I have had a hat fettish for forever!”
While at the ranch getting hats shaped, he said, “I know stuff but just enough to be dangerous. I don’t know anything but are you hiring?”
“If you don’t know anything, why would we hire you?” They asked.
“Hire me for a week and, if you don’t like me, tell me what you didn’t like so I can be better as a human, and I’ll leave,” Trent challenged. He got the job, lived in the ranch house and then ended up in a house on the west end of the ranch property until he didn’t after getting married.
Greeley Hat Works
Beauty Behind Being Unique
We have been able to keep up with style, trends and fashions because we don’t have set hats - they are all custom. Our hat brims change, degrees of stiffness, etc. are always changing as you realize what is going on around you and being able to compensate for those changes.
When we start to alienate certain brands out of a specific market place like rodeo, it’s only hurting the cowboys, the fans and professional rodeo as a whole. We need to make sure that we have those gates open to all sponsors for healthy sponsors.
Custom Is Cool
“We have about five stores around the U.S. that have our conformity tour,” Trent explains. Built in the 1900’s they have a head shaper that measures your head exactly to create the perfect hat. They work one on one with each individual through a series of questions, pictures and interactions so that they can get a fit as great as possible.
After the fitting process, it’s very important to Trent what you are using the hat for in your lifestyle. Is it a hat worn three times a month for fancy dinners? Everyday rodeo wear? This helps decide the quality standard that you want and then you get to go into the fun nitty gritty style of color, shape and accessories.
“The biggest thing to me is confidence when you are wearing your new creation,” Trent explains. It means that he doesn’t care about what “the rules” state, he wants you to have the hat that makes you happy and helps you carry yourself with confidence.
“The customer is key to helping me figure out what design or style is perfect for them.”
Selling the Experience
“We’re not that kind of a shop that says, ‘Oh that hat isn’t one of ours, we aren’t going to work on it.’ The customer experience is number one for us… if you have 15 … hats and you hate the way they fit then we are going to fit those hats for you.”
Podcast Bonus Story: Katie Schrock testimony on Greeley Hat Works. Selling an experience and you get a free hat!
It didn’t matter if I was working with Aerosmith, a cowboy, a movie or a gal who wanted a fashion hat, they don’t just make one type of hats - he loves making hats period. The collaboration with DD Ranchwear team has helped create a women’s Ralph Lauren of the Western World that is iconic, edgy and classy. When they came to Trent about building hats it felt like a no brainer!
With any collaboration you have more than one opinion; combining their vision and what they wanted to build, they still had to build into a functional hat. The trick of a hat is it still has to fit and wear like a hat. There is a lot of history and “not changing things” in order to not change anything. Some of the stuff DD Ranch wanted to do in the beginning is be able to make it functional and still look the way that they wanted it to do. With a hat you see both the inside and the outside; both sides of the brim is the difference.
Staying Sane While Being an Involved Western Advocate
Learning how to let go of things that, even today with his amazing team, Trent still works on every day. He understands that his gifts are building hats and making personal connections is the most important. Trent then would find out “how many hats do I need to design to do…. Project A, B, C, etc.”
A large whiteboard in his office is his think board. He fills it with quotes, information and more top to bottom - then he takes a picture, saves it on his phone, and then wipes the slate clean to start on the next idea.
More on the podcast:
How Greeley Hat Works got involved with Miss Rodeo America.
The Greeley Hat Works ambassador program and how they select their ambassadors each year - how they support the average competitor or hat enthusiast.
“I don’t raise children, I raise adults who can give back to a community.”
Involvement in the ranching industry as the official hat of Texas Southwest Raisers Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Collegiate Beef Ambassadors - Keeping beef relevant!
On the Rodeo Trail
You can follow along with Trent Johnson and Greeley Hat Works! Make sure to let them know that you heard them on the podcast and find them at one of their pop up stores!