NYC Hat Factory Saved from Closure

Makins Hats has been around for over 40 years, but at the end of 2013 it almost closed for good.

Marsha Akins opened Makins Hats in 1974, handmaking the first ever Makins hats in her own apartment. Flashforward forty years later. The company grew into a decent-sized factory space in the garment district of NYC and rightly earned a great reputation. After 40 years of business, Makins Hats closed its Midtown doors in October 2013.

Satya Twena, a designer who had worked with Makins Hats for more than three years, heard of the factory’s closing and decided to take a leap of faith and follow her passion. She purchased the factory on November 1st and put all her effort into keeping the factory open and preserving its legacy through crowdfunding.  With the help of friends, social media and a dedicated following, Satya launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at restoring the factory and hiring back all the employees. We decided to take a visit to the newly owned NYC Hat Factory to learn about the hat process and Satya’s courageous story.

Satya, gave us the complete factory tour and we learned the making process of a hat from start to finish! Here is the process from in photos:

We started in the fabric room, where all materials are provided by contractors and stored in-house, ready for clients to choose the color and material of their liking.

Then we walked over to the hand blocks, over 2500 of them! What makes Makins Hats unique is that they hand block every single hat made.

Then we walked over to the hand blocks, over 2500 of them! What makes NYC Hat Factory unique is that they hand block every single hat made.

After choosing the color, thehat felt is steamed over the mold to soften the fabric, and it is stretched, refitted and stretched again until molded to perfection.

After choosing the color, the hat felt is steamed over the mold to soften the fabric, and it is stretched, refitted and stretched again until molded to perfection.

The hat mold is thenbaked in a large over for seven minutes and sent off ready to be finished. We walked to the other side of the factoryto complete the process.

The hat mold is then baked in a large over for seven minutes and sent off ready to be finished. We walked to the other side of the factory to complete the process.

The extra fabric was cut off of the mold and Indira, a hired-back employee with over 22 years of experience in the industry, seamlessly sewed the lining, trim and custom label inside.  She was truly a company gem, with a “gold mine”of knowledge exclaimed Satya.

The extra fabric was cut off of the mold and Indira, a hired-back employee who has been with Makins for over 22 years and has over 30 years of experience in the industry, seamlessly sewed the lining, trim and custom label inside. She is truly a company gem, with a “gold mine” of knowledge exclaimed Satya.

Satya took hold and steamed the hat (a process she learnedfrom a former Makins Hat worker), brushed it clean and placed it in a SJ labeled box, ready for shipment.

Satya took hold and steamed the hat (a process she learnedfrom a former Makins Hat worker), brushed it clean and placed it in a SJ labeled box, ready for shipment.

Hat Factory Visit NYC

For those wanting to work with NYC Hat Factory:

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– no minimums

– no tooling costs (all blocks are provided by Satya)

– many colors to choose from, but you can also bring your own materials to use

The hand blocked process that brings a NYC Hat Factory hat to life is truly an incredible and time-tested technique and Satya can be thanked for keeping the factory, the process and all its glory alive and well.

Find NYC Hat Factory hats at makersrow.com/nyhats