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Meet Cody Wellema of Wellema Hat Company in Altadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cody Wellema.

Cody, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started Wellema Hat Company in 2013 & was making hats sometime before then. A interest of the past is what launched the vision of Wellema Hats. A fascination for the history of the past has been a part of me for quite some time. The music, the lifestyle, the culture, the fashion and so on. When you see almost any photo from the 1920s-1950s you see hats. Both men & ladies…to me, that was fascinating. When watching silent film, looking at album covers from the early 20th century, you see hats everywhere! Fast forwarding into present day; you can see hats slowing making a come-back. You can find all kinds of hats at most popular, hip & trendy store, big box stores, online…many places these days. But when I started seeing true vintage hats of the past and comparing them to the hats made and sold today…there was a huge gap in quality & craftsmanship. Seeing that gap was what truly launched the company. I started to research old hats. The companies, the materials, the craftsmanship, the tools…the true trade of hat making. From there I decided I was going to do my best to source these tools & materials and start making hats the right way; just like they used to. Everything being sourced in the states to the highest quality standard. Making reproduction hats of the early 20th century, to western cowboy hats, to contemporary & trending hats, we can do it all. All with the quality & detail of how hats were made back in the day.

I started the company in Santa Barabra, Ca. We started by taking $100 out of our savings to purchase an antique hat block & a piece of felt. It’s a blessing to stand in the shop today looking at a great collection of hat blocks, most dating back 100 years in which we make each and every one of our hats on. We had our first small & humble shop there in the heart of downtown. We truly enjoyed our time there but decided to move to the Los Angeles area in 2016 to be closer to family & open a new store. Our store is now located in the beautiful & historic Altadena, Ca. Mariposa St brangging a true “small town USA” feel with the buildings being originally built in the mid 192os. It’s a great inspiration to be able to make hats in this great old building.

Has it been a smooth road?
Owning your own business is always a great & crazy journey. To be honest for us, thanks to God, our road has been quite smooth & pleasant. A few small “speed bumps” along the way, but nothing all too crazy. Owning your own small business, let alone having a brick & mortar does have its stresses from time to time with supporting a family. We’re grateful for where we are at and looking forward to the road ahead.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Wellema Hats are all 100% handmade hats. Each being made in our store and to the closest attention to detail possible. Most of the business is bespoke, or made to order. Clients, both men & women come from around the world to see us to get fitted. We measure a person’s head to the nearest 1/16th of an inch and decide on the shape of the head to insure a great & comfortable fit. From there we walk with the client through materials, color choices and trim options. We talk about getting their name, initials, a quote or saying that is meaningful to them stamped into the inner sweatband to truly make it their own. From there we make them a hat truly built to be as unique as the person who wears it. As stated before, being a custom hat maker; we can make almost any shape or style of hat. We do a lot of fedoras, both for men & women. Some being in the “period” category (ex. 1930s style) or a more contemporary looking fedora. Porkpies, cowboy hats, artistic and unique hats…whatever the client may be looking for.

We’re proud to be able to work with so many unique and different people. Each one that walks through our doors, or places an order online is different than the next. Building each hat to their own personality and style is what makes us proud. What sets us apart is our quality and longevity of the hat, the attention to detail and the love we have for everyone we come into contact with

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles and the areas surrounding is a crazy world. Starting a business in Los Angeles can be tough. It’s a pricey place to be, but depending on the type of company; it can definitely have a big payoff. Los Angeles being so fashionable, historic and known around the world, it can be a great place for companies to be.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
TJ Roque

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