We had the good fortune of connecting with Parker Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Parker, how do you think about risk?
Ive been self employed and have made a living off of my creative instincts for as long as I can remember whether it be my music or hatting career. There have absolutely always been ups and downs and that is a risk that you take when you bet on your vision for a career. At this point I feel like taking a risk and going for something I believe in is not even a question of if I should or shouldn’t go for it. There is a drive and motivation you get when you go all in and take a risk on yourself and your talents, whatever they may be. The feeling you get when it works out, in one way or another, is a feeling I’ve not felt elsewhere. Small victories become your driving force and big victories become the cherry on top. Risk is something that I think scares a lot of people, maybe because failure sounds scary, and if you do fail in someway its easy to blame yourself. But I promise you, you didn’t fail in every aspect. You adapt and move forward with more knowledge. I encourage you to ask any successful person if they took risks and bet it all on one horse a time or two and id be willing to guess they did more that a few times.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well, I am a hat maker and musician. I make western hats and fedoras in any shape, size, and color you can think of. I feel that I put many little details in each hat that set them apart from others. Everything is done by hand, and my hands only. When you look at one of my hats you can tell it is a Bowman. I am constantly coming up with new ideas to set them apart while equally keeping an eye on history and tradition. I strive to make hats that will truly hold up to a lifetime worth of wear. I want the interior of my hats to stand out just as much as the exterior, I have a specific bow that I hand tie that you won’t see elsewhere, hand punched ventilation and artwork made by my friends for the stamps and crown liners. Because at the end of the day a hat is a tool, but why can’t it also be a work of art? One project we came out with this year that I am truly excited about was a collaboration with the amazing western painter Mark Maggiori. We replicated a hat from one of his paintings and each hat gets a silk crown liner with that painting inside of it. It has been a very fun project to be a part of. Aside from hats I am very excited to record and release a new record this upcoming year. Its been a few years since i’ve put one out and I feel that it is long overdue. We’ve got more songs than we know what to do with so one record may turn into two. How I got where I am today has an answer that would probably take too long to type. But I can say that i’ve always had a love for history and preserving it, while also not replicating, but making it my own. That is why I got into the hat making business in the first place. I wanted to be able to make these amazing shapes and styles of hats that you did not see anymore. I started by collecting vintage and antique hats, repairing them, stretching them to fit my big ol head, replacing ribbon and so on. Eventually it got to the point where I thought “why don’t I try to make them from scratch?” Unfortunately there was no one within a few hours of me that I could apprentice under so I had to teach myself. Id take apart hats, try to reverse engineer them and see how they were constructed. I found an old book from the turn of the century that talked about hat making and the process, and slowly one by one I figured out how to make them. Shoot, Im still figuring out a new trick every now and then. Ive learned that not everything is instant, somethings, most things take time. And they take a lot of time. These trades are not bought but they are earned. I have a very small fraction of the equipment that most hatters have but I make due, and I think that that has helped me strive to learn and spend more time working them with my hands without relying on equipment. focusing on the little details and getting to know each hat. I want the world to know that when you buy a Bowman hat you are buying a hat from Parker Smith. Every email, every call, every stitch and every stamp is made by my hands, and every detail is seen by my eyes before it goes out the door. I work with you to create a piece that you feel you were an equal part in creating. I focus on only making custom commissions for that reason. I get so much enjoyment knowing that I worked with a customer to make then a piece that will see them shaded for the rest of their lives, I stand by my work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Whenever we have friends come into town there are usually a few things that we do. We take them to the barn where we keep our horse, spend some time there and let them enjoy being around the animals. Not everyone gets to have that in their life, it is something we are so grateful for and love to share with people. Well take them to our home, cook a good meal, share some stories and laughs. My wife makes the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi, and i’m only saying this side of the Mississippi because I’ve not tried all the fried chicken on the other side of the Mississippi. We may walk around town and get a drink at one of the local watering holes like “The Wall”. A small pub that prides itself on a wall full of taps that you pour yourself. But over all we usually keep it close and personal. Catch up and enjoy each others company, unless there is something that they’d like to do.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Mentorship is something that I’ve always sought out and have seen the value in, I believe it is something that is slowly disappearing in todays culture. But over all, I think I owe it all to my parents. When I was 12 some friends and I started a band, we played shows in nearby cities weekly and toured by the time we were 15. Although they were hesitant and not really on board at first, as any parent would be when they saw their child playing shows in cities til all hours of the night, once they realized that it was something that I felt I didn’t have a choice in they’ve done nothing but support me in whatever endeavor i’ve committed myself to. I don’t meant that I didn’t have a choice as in someone was forcing me, I mean that I was born with a drive to make my own path and have never wanted anything else. There have been dozens of times they’ve been scared, worried and i’m sure even doubtful that something would work out, but their support and encouragement never wavered. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for that, I know it is something that not everybody gets, and Ill never forget that. It is something that I hope I can have with my own children one day. I truly owe it all to my parents, Mikie & Wesley.
Instagram: @bowmanhatco, @parkersmithmusic