As the aspiring owner of a fly a$$ hat collection, FlameKeepers Hat Cllub looks like a candy store to me. This Harlem-based, upscale hat store offers an array of sophisticated hats in many styles. We caught up with the owner, Marx Williams. This is what he had to say:
SB: What inspired you to start FlameKeepers Hat Club?
MW: I was inspired to start FlameKeepers Hat Club simply based on my years in the hat business and wanting to offer MY vision to the world.
SB: You’ve worked in the hat industry for over 20 years. In that time, what have you learned about how people choose hats?
MW: People often choose hats based on their personalities and tastes. A conservative person tends to pick a conservative piece of headwear. People with “colorful” personalities tend to be a little less reserved in their choices and aren’t afraid step outside of their comfort zones.
SB: You’ve been named one of the most stylish New Yorkers. Can you describe your style and what style means to you?
MW: Style to me is a culmination of self expression and taste. I learned a long time ago not to be caught up with judging someone’s style because there are a lot of different styles and thousands of people embrace the one’s that appeal to them.
A “style” that I might not find that appealing is embraced by many so who am I to say what’s good or bad. I feel like style choices are organic.
SB: The road to business ownership is often difficult. What were some of the challenges you faced opening your store?
MW: One of the challenges I faced was procuring a lease. I got turned down a few times because the building owners didn’t see my vision and obviously didn’t believe it could work.
Another challenge I faced was learning how to deal with contractors. I learned the hard way that they follow direction fairly well but they don’t offer much creatively…..at least that was my experience.
SB: What advice do you have for the first time hat buyer?
MW: Start with an affordable piece that appeals to you and one you will actually wear not just hang on a rack. Also, I would recommend a hat that can take a beating.
SB: Currently, you source your hats from all over the world, including the US. Where would you say the best hats are made and do you offer your own line?
MW: We source from all over the world and search for quality and value that can be passed along to the consumer. I couldn’t say where the best hats are made because great hats are made all over the world. Yes, we do offer our own line of hats along with a small selection of other notable brands.
SB: If you could wake up tomorrow with any business skill you wanted, what would it be?
MW: The magical ability to get more than 24 hours out of a 24 hour day.
SB: Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
MW: In 5 years I see FlameKeepers Hat Club as a nationally recognized brand working towards international recognition.
Visit their website for more info and stay tuned for their upcoming e-commerce store.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson