Profile: Kansas City Hatters
So it’s Derby month and what is reminiscent of The Kentucky Derby? The answer would be...HATS! I’d say I’m a bit of a hat connoisseur so for my inaugural article as a new MIKCexplore contributor, I would love to introduce you to Jon Akers, a local hatter with Kansas City Hatters.
I asked Jon what prompted him to get into the hat making business. Jon first fell in love with hats as a child. He grew up watching old black and white films where the style of of the ‘30s and ‘40s always drew him in. “Hats told a story back then, from the beat up utilitarian hat of a farm hand or villain to the slick smooth felt hats of the high class,” Jon said. “People’s hats reflected who they were and men and women alike weren’t seen without one.”
Before creating such dapper hats, Jon served as a Corpsman for eight years with the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy. Shortly after the birth of their son, he and his wife knew they wanted one of them to be home with the baby, especially during his formative years. After the end of his military career, Jon moved back to Kansas City and embarked on a new journey with his family. His wife continued her career working in hospitals while Jon stayed at home and raised their son.
Four years later, he inadvertently stumbled upon the art of hat making. Jon had an old fedora that needed the sweatband changed, but he couldn’t find anyone in KC that worked on hats, or who could even guide him where to take it. Out of necessity, he decided to see if he couldn’t change the sweatband himself. He found someone that would cut and sew a leather sweatband to size in Minnesota. He quickly ordered one and began to learn how to install it. His research took him deeper into the art of hat making. Soon after, he began to obsess over learning everything he could about hat making. He would buy old hats, tear them apart, and rebuild them.
After a while tinkering and making hats for himself, Jon started to want to make hats for others. This desire happened to coincide with their son getting ready to start school full time. He brought up the idea to his wife about creating hats for others. He proposed a Kickstarter campaign for the starter money in hopes to get his wife on board. The campaign was successful, and on November 27th, 2017, Kansas City Hatters, Inc. was born. He decided on that name after much deliberation. “I love the city I am from, I love having the opportunity to bring a lost art back to Kansas City. I am proud to stamp the name Kansas City into all hats and hope I get to do so for many years to come.”