While Lord of the Rings was blamed for having too many endings, we may be blamed for having too many starts. It started with a dream—a literal one. Also it started with a man named Chester, surrounded by a crew of red hatters. But before any of this could have happened, it started with a mother carrying a legacy like many Norwegian mothers do—the legacy of hand knitting, perfected through generations.
It was around 2012 I met this wild bunch of red hat wearing Americans when I moved to Stockholm. They wore them faithfully. I liked the style, but it was not really my thing. Until one morning on my birthday, I think it was number 24, Billy Chester slapped a red hat on my table as I was drinking my morning coffee, and I had the choice. Would I go hard or go home? I did not go home—at least not at once.
After taking the red hat of Chester from the streets of Stockholm, Sweden to the lakes of Nævisdal, Norway to the mountains of Mbeya, Tanzania, an idea started forming. I went back to Norway, and while surrounded by too many cups of coffee and a belly full of Norwegian kringle, I pitched the idea to my mother. We went down into the yarn-ridden basement, and started looking through the shelves for that perfect shade of red.
Things take time—as we always say in Norway. After pitching the idea, with no name or brand, we started knitting—or rather, my mother started knitting, sending packages to Sweden, and I gave feedback and we discussed how to perfect the product. Two seams on the top, making a cross, instead of the five-pointed star one of the prototypes had. No fold, so you can fold it after your own liking. Pointy tip or round? We decided to give you the freedom to choose.
After months of trying, we came up with the first original model, now called the Southlander, and I tested it for a year or more through the heat of Burundi, the cold of the forests of Norway and the streets of Sweden.
The red hat has many poster children. One of them being Olav Thon, the Hotel-King of Norway. He wears it so faithfully that when they made a statue of him outside one of his Hotels in Oslo, they made it with him wearing the hat. Back when Jesus did not only have twitter followers, but actual followers who stalked him around the country, there the red hat was represented.
A very special red hatter is Steve Zissou. I am going to be so honest as to say I usually don’t enjoy Wes Anderson that much, even though we almost share last name, but I do like Life Aquatic. The red hats against the light blue awesome-shirts are eye-candy. So. When back in my parent’s basement, in search of the perfect yarn, my mother suggested one and I looked down: “Sisu”. That’s perfect! Zissou, Zissu, Sisu: Basically same thing. That is the yarn that makes up the basic red hat collection right now.
Believe whatever you want, but the name Red Hat Factory came to me in a dream. I was so into all these hat-plans, and I dreamed that we started the business and called it Red Hat Factory, and that we launched a website with some brick-wall design in the background. So I followed my dreams—literally.
When my brother in law Ben (original red hatter and friend of Mr. Chester) said he wanted to sell the hats at MacLaren Barbers, I knew I had a chance to actually go for this and give it a try. Why not? Have an adventure or die trying.
After going back and forth testing model after model—and while my mom was knitting, I was shaping and preparing the brand—we landed on the basic Red Hat Factory hat. It comes as a clean-cut piece of knit cap—no pre-fold—and you decide how far down to fold it and how far down towards your eyebrows you pull it. With time it shapes itself after your head, and starts to smell like you. It is made by mom, and shaped by you. Bring the hat on an adventure and make it yours.
Get one. Be a part of the story.