It all started with a dream of never losing a hat again when Jimmy Findlay Hickey created the first adventure hat with duct tape, a shoelace, and a knife. Fast forward to 2013, he took everything out of his savings and starting a brand out of his house, Findlay Hats. Now he and his team are selling hats around the world and inspiring the Findlay Force to get out and enjoy life with a hat on their head. The Findlay team not only created a successful brand out of a garage but created a community around their brand. Findlay won our hearts, and for this segment of our spotlight series we sat down with the founder of Findlay hats Jimmy Hickey and asked him some questions, check it out!
Now for the Q & A...
Thanks for being a spotlight for Harlo Jimmy, can you tell us how Findlay Hats began?
I grew up in Longview, WA and the Mighty Toodle River is not far from there, my family and I would go out every summer to raft the river. During my early teens until now I have always been a hat addict and on one of our trips, I lost my favorite hat in the river. After that tragic accident, I made sure it wouldn’t happen again, I took a hat, duct tape, cut holes on the sides, and put a shoelace through and tied it to my head for security and called it my water hat! I wore it all the time to the river and people would often compliment me on it and ask for me to make them one so, 10 years later I started making Findlay hats!
Findlay’s production started in 2013 in your garage, did you have a plan when you first got going?
It actually started in my living room, then moved to a garage and now we just moved to a warehouse!
It started as a side gig to my photography career during the slow seasons. I didn’t really have a huge plan in the beginning but the vision has evolved over the years.
How have you been successful, and describe a big win moment?
I consider our success based on the fact that we have people living off this brand, it feels good to be a job maker. It feels good to create a product that then is providing living wages for people to live their life off of. I have a great team that I love working with and work well together. I would say that's a huge success for me. On a business level, I see success with our Findlay Force that is so diverse and dedicated to the brand and having a community around our brand. Also, I see success with our recent Facebook and Instagram campaigns with the audience it has reached and the positive impact on the company.
A big “win” moment is probably the first time I saw one of our hats in the wild on a complete stranger. It was such a good feeling to see something we created being worn in Oregon, but we also saw someone repping Findlay in Italy!
Also, getting into a warehouse was a huge win for Findlay. The move from working in the garage with barely enough space to now having more space than we can even deal with is a pretty cool thing.
Is this the first business you’ve owned? Did you have experience beforehand?
It’s not the first business, I’ve owned a photo company since 2007. I had my first magazine coverage in 2008/2009. Before that, when I was a kid I created my own business selling tomatoes, creating wax for skaters and sealing that.
What inspires your creativity?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing that inspires my creativity. I create because I feel like I have a natural instinct to do it, it doesn’t feel right to me not to be creating. So I'm always in create mode. There’s not something I can think of directly that really fuels my creativity. But I can turn on some music that will get me going and boost my desire to get things done.
What do you think was the most important decision that led to Findlay’s success?
I think just to trust my creative vision, which is something I learned through my photography. Once you get to where you trust your eye then it will silence all the worries, and fear of rejection that was a huge step.
How do you feel about making business related mistakes?
You just have to learn from it, and that's all there is to it! We make mistakes all the time here, and we just have to learn from them, fix it and not let it happen again.
For all the young entrepreneurs out there, what small piece of advice would you share with them?
Find something you’re passionate about, I know it's cliche, but if you want to be an entrepreneur you have to be passionate about it because of the level of work and sacrifice it takes to get it where it needs to be is extremely challenging and will take a lot of you. The only way I was able to continue is because I love it so much, this brand is my child.
What has been your favorite/most proud of Hat, and your favorite collab?
My favorite collab would have to be the PDX Carpet Hat we did for city liquidators because it was such a huge iconic part of Portland's history and we were the only company in the world to be able to use the actual PDX carpet and put it on a hat.
The Hat I'm most proud of is the first Findlay hat we ever made, knowing it all started with that one is pretty sweet!
How do you win the hearts of your customers?
By just being real, that's one thing I try to go above and beyond on with our customer's interactions. We don’t use bots, we talk like real people because we are real people. We took Disneyland's Theory of their employees that whenever they can they can create a magic moment for their customers and made it Findlay, so if we can go above and beyond in any situation to create a magic moment we will do so!
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