I‘m so excited to finally unveil the hat that I co-designed with Kansas City Hatters, “El Patron” (The Boss). As you all might know I am a HUGE fan of chapeaus/hats. I have been wearing them since I was a kid. So to meet this talented hatter and to partner up with him is a dream come true! I first heard about Kansas City Hatters through my dear friend, Amina Hood who herself is also a very talented milliner, Amina Marie Millinery. So when Kansas City’s Westport Art Fair took place this past September I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Akers and his beautiful wife Nicole the last day of the fair. To think that I almost passed on going to the fair! It was just the universe telling me to go and meet my future go-to when it comes to hats! I was literally like a kid in a candy store when I came across his booth. I’m pretty sure I even heard an angel’s choir. I knew I would not be looking for hats anywhere else after looking at all his creations. He had everything from dressy to more casual distressed looks. We chatted about the process of making custom hats and I now have a much more appreciation for the art. He uses this contraption (he will explain it to you when you set up your appointment to order your hat) to measure your head for an exact fitting. I guarantee you your hat will fit like a glove. That is the whole point of a custom fitted hat, correct? Now, I would love to introduce to you all The Man, The Myth, The Legend…Jon Akers.
When Jon meets people for the first time, he gets asked primarily two questions, those being, “What got you into the hat business?” and “What did you do before hats?”. He first fell in love with hats as a child, a love we both share. He grew up watching old black and white movies where the style of the 30’s and 40’s always drew him in. “Hats told a story back then, from the beat up utilitarian hat of a farm hand or villain to the slick smooth felt hats of the high class. People’s hats reflected who they were and men and women alike weren’t seen without one.” That love for hats never left him, but as he grew older he traded fedoras and baseball caps for kevlar helmets and with point covers. Akers served as a medic, called a Corpsman, for eight years with the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy. Shortly after the birth of their son, he and his wife knew they wanted one of them to be home with him, especially during his formative years. What that meant for Jon was the end of his military career, moving back home to Kansas City and embarking on a new journey together. His wife continued her career working in hospitals while he stayed at home and raised their son. He did this for four wonderful years during which he inadvertently stumbled upon the art of hat making.
Jon had an old fedora that needed the sweatband changed, the only problem was he couldn’t find anyone in Kansas City that worked on hats nor could anyone tell him where to take it. Out of necessity, he decided to see if he couldn’t change the sweatband himself. He found someone that would cut and sew a leather sweatband to size in Minnesota. He promptly ordered one and set out about learning how to install it. His research took him deeper into the art of hat making. His quest for a new sweatband ignited an ember that started so long ago as a child and it quickly engulfed in a passionate fire for hats and creating them. He began to obsess over learning everything he could about hat making. He would purchase old hatter’s tools online and would build whatever he couldn’t find himself. He began buying old hats, tearing them apart and building them back. Each new hat was a new challenge, a new learning experience and he loved it!
After a while of tinkering and making hats for himself he started having a desire to make hats for others. This desire happened to coincide with their son getting ready to start school full time. He sat down with his wife and told her of his idea to make hats for others. He brought up the idea of a Kickstarter campaign for the starter money in hopes to get his wife on board. The campaign was successful and on November 27th, 2017, Kansas City Hatters, Inc. was born. He decided on that name after much deliberation. “I love the city I am from, I love having the opportunity to bring a lost art back to Kansas City. I am proud to stamp the name Kansas City into all my hats and hope I get to do so for many years to come.”
We are both very excited to launch this limited edition hat that we have named, El Patron! Above, you will notice the three different and easy looks (dressy, casual and street) to sport your El Patron. There will only be eight hats made. We opted for eight because I have an affinity for the infinity sign which is essentially the number eight sideways. There is a personal meaning for it and I wanted to instill that in this fantastic partnership with Jon. We both picked every single detail to this labor of love, of course with some help from our Instagram followers. We thank you and now its time for you all to reach out to Jon and get your hat ordered before they are all gone.
Jon Akers: Owner/Operator