Today we’d like to introduce you to Roniel Bencosme.
Roniel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always been in love with fashion and using it to stand out. I used to go to Salvation Army and get second hand jackets and t-shirts to make sure I looked different. A few years ago, I bought my first flat brim hat and have been a big hat guy ever since. At that point to catch me without a hat on was rare. When I started to really build up my collection I learned of a hat maker out of California named Nick Fouquet. You want to stand out and wear a piece of art, this was the gold standard (and still is). While I loved the hats and of course wanted my own, there was no way I was going to afford one. The hats started around $800 and went up to almost $2,000. At this point, I decided my wife Amanda and I would make our own hats. We headed to a few shops around town and found hats we liked for around $30-$40 bucks and went to Michael’s for supplies.
The experience was a lot of fun and the outcome was we each made our own hat designs that we couldn’t wait to wear. My first day out of the house with the hat on I racked up some nice words and “where did you get that hat?”. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was so proud to tell people we made them ourselves. A few folks asked if I would make them one so I did. One thing led to another and I got an order for ten hats to be worn by a wedding party. This was my shift from fun project to business because it felt like I had a lot on the line for them. I can’t say that im so much further in than that order but I have been steadily producing 1-2 hats a week when im not at work. It is such an amazing feeling to create something you are proud of and that is amplified when someone else is proud to call it their own. I hope to continue that as long as I can.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have struggled with the lack of formality. Because I want to make sure the process is easy for the person customizing their hat, I have kept a lack of formality around what people want and what they can ask for. While I think the outcome is more positive, the creative/making process can be stressful.
I have also been building out my tools and supplies every step of the way so really understanding my costs has been a work in progress. Not that I have enough scale where this is a major challenge yet but I would like to be informed enough on this side to be able to make decisions faster and ultimately create better outcomes.
The last item here is sourcing hats. I obviously do not make hats yet. I am still buying hats and customizing designs, etc. to someone’s liking. There are two directions this business will likely go over time; First, would be sourcing hats from 1 place via a partnership or bulk order and continuing the path we are on OR, Second would be to begin to make hats by hand. My concern here is costs would go way up and I would create the obstacle that I saw when I wanted a hat like Nick Fouquet years ago.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Hats de Roniel – what should we know?
My goal is to make hats people can be proud of. I have always stuck out in a crowd and for a while that was not my choice. When I started to make the choice by what I wear (like hats) it was empowering. The hats I design are each special because they were done with someone in mind and in collaboration. They are made to stand out but make you comfortable wearing it. I use bandanas a lot because it feels very unassuming but it can be so beautiful when you create clean lines with one. I use a lot of nick nacks you don’t usually see used like a leather wristband or inspirational quote charm to tell your hats story. There isn’t much I won’t use or do because thats the point. Creativity is not just being able to paint beautiful lines or sew a gorgeous hem. I think there is such beauty in wearing something with imperfections like an unorthodox stitch or glued down with a rough edge.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Remembering who I am serving. This is not about raking in cash or becoming the next big hat guy. I just want to have fun and bring people’s vision to life. I want people to wear a hat with pride and if it gives them confidence or is just a symbol of their confidence, thats beautiful. I make these hats at night after my day job or on weekends so it feels really scrappy. I love that.
- $100-$120 plus shipping for hats on hand and 1-2 hours of customization
- $125-$150 plus shipping for hats not on hand OR 3-4 hours of customization
- $150+ for handmade sourced hat and my own custom work
- Phone: (845) 490-1501
- Email: HatsDeRoniel@Gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hatsderoniel/