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Entrepreneur shapes a new business

Look for her Saturday at Bluegrass on the Lake

Staff writer

For people who want a cowboy hat that’s shaped a certain way, Johsie Reid of JR Hatters in Marion is the person to contact.

Reid starts out with open crown hats with flat brims and soaks them in water, which makes them pliable for shaping. After they dry, the shape remains. She shapes crowns, brims, and brim fronts in whatever way customers want.

“When you look to buy a hat, you want to buy a style that is the opposite of your facial features,” she said. “So, if you have a long, narrow face, you want to look for a fuller hat. If you have a fuller face, you want a taller hat with a narrower crown.”

Reid has a friend who makes beaded, leather, and horsehair hatbands that customers can buy to embellish their hats.

She has sold at least 100 hats this year. Most are formed from Sunbody Guatemalan Palm Leaf hats.

One time, while working at Hatman Jack’s in Wichita, she designed hats for actors and actors involved in making a movie.

At the Dam Music Festival at El Dorado last year, Reid made a hat for a drummer with the Against the Grain country rock band and had her picture taken with him.

The 32-year-old entrepreneur was born in Colorado and got a job out of high school driving for a horse-drawn carriage company at Vail.

The company purchased hats from Wild Bill’s Emporium in Vail. When the carriage company went out of business, Reid got a job at Wild Bill’s and learned how to shape hats.

After moving to Wichita in 2012, she plied her trade at Hatman Jack’s.

Reid moved to Marion in 2015.

“I got tired of the long commute to Wichita every day, so I decided to start my own business,” she said.

It’s a side business to her full-time job running an embroidery machine at Western Graphics, but she spends the same amount of time on it.

“It’s still pretty small, but it’s growing,” she said.

Distributors are familiar with her and help her acquire supplies.

She named her business JR Hatters about a year ago and took it on the road. Some of her biggest shows have been at Flint Hills Rodeo and Little Britches Rodeo in Strong City, Dam Music Festival at El Dorado, and McPherson County Fair. This weekend will be her second year at Bluegrass on the Lake at Marion County Lake.

Her 10-year-old son, Reid, goes to shows with her.

“He loves to help me set up stands and take them down,” she said.

She uses a small branding iron to stamp initials on kids’ hats.

“They say, ‘I got mine stamped by JR,’” she said. “Parents love it because their kids won’t argue about which hat is theirs.”

Her favorite part of the business is seeing how a customer reacts after she has taken a design and made it for them.

“When they put it on and look in the mirror and they stand tall and proud, you know you got it right,” she said.

She enjoys the business and hopes to keep it going for many years.

“It was something I just stumbled across, and it’s been really good for me,” she said.

Last modified June 14, 2018

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