Hamblen Hats: Northern Colorado hat company takes pride in Western heritage values
When talking to a cowboy about his hat, one might learn more about his personality than expected. Hats are often what a cowboy is identified by and what makes him who he is, shares Hatmaker Travis Hamblen.
Travis grew up with an affinity for hats, even recently finding out instead of carrying a blanket or a stuffed animal as a child, his prized black cowboy hat was his comfort.
Growing up, he worked several jobs, ranging from building fence to working for stock contractors and feedlots, and he even worked for another hatmaker for several years. Nearly four years ago, the opportunity for Travis to open his own hat store was presented – bringing forth Hamblen Hats.
“We started out in a mobile trailer, grew from there into a TuffShed, then a shop on family property, and we moved into this storefront about two years ago,” he explains.
Flying H logo
When Travis first opened his shop and started developing a logo for the brand, he was looking for something simple but representative of his values. Thus, the Flying H brand was born.
“I wanted a brand that no matter what we do, is iconic,” Travis says.
The Flying H brand is reminiscent of what his grandpa, who passed shortly after Travis opened the storefront in Ault, Colo. meant to him.
“The ‘H’ stands for heritage – there’s always someone who’s gone before you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cowboy or a banker, someone laid the groundwork to help you get to where you are,” he explains.
Travis shares the “H” also stands for hope and history.
“When we first opened, we got our first full shipment of hats on Friday the 13th at the beginning of COVID-19 and had 90 days to pay for it. We all know COVID-19 impacted business, but God continued to open doors and take care of us,” he says. “Our history is what makes us all who we are today.”
The smile of the Flying H brand represents hard work, and the circle within the brand represents life.
“No matter where our heritage, hope or history lies, if we don’t get up every morning and work hard, we won’t get anywhere,” Travis says. “Life consists of all of these things.”
Travis’ maternal grandpa was a milkman at the Poudre Valley Creamery in Fort Collins, Colo. and had the reputation of knowing his customers well.
Growing up watching his family build relationships with customers in his parents’ family-owned gun shop, Travis understood from a young age businesses were more about the people than the product.
“We’ve made hats for professional athletes, we’ve had hats on entertainers at music festivals, and we have one on a movie set right now,” Travis says. “But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a person is going to the Super Bowl or if they’re an FFA kid from the local high school – to me, it’s all about the person under the hat.”
He continues, “We all share a bond of hope, heritage, history and hard work. It doesn’t matter if we’re on a big screen, a big stage or a big ranch.”
The hat company builds custom hats, sells stock hats that can be custom fit or custom designed and offers cleaning and rebuilding of old, trusted hats.
Travis shares individual style and personality are put into each hat. In fact, his two sons are an example of how personality and individualism can be expressed by hats.
“My youngest boy is going to work for a reined cow horse trainer this year, and the other is a musician. They both have their own hat shape – one’s a little punchier, and the other likes a little more rock and roll,” Travis says, noting both boys have been involved in the business from its inception.
“We want to make sure everyone can afford the custom experience,” he says. “It is a privilege for me to clean one up, shape one or build one so when my customers look in the mirror, they smile.”
However, Travis notes there are two favorite hats he enjoys the most – the first and the last.
“The other day, a young cowboy was in the shop going to his first lead line show, and we fitted him with his first cowboy hat,” Travis shares. “And, we’ve got an old-timer who swings by to hang out and chat, and he mentioned while getting a hat, this would probably be his last. What happens between the first and the last is important, but it’s a privilege to build someone’s first and an honor to build someone’s last.”
For more information, visit hamblenhats.com.
Averi Reynolds is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.