It all started in 2007 when we moved to Ecuador.
We dreamed of travelling the world as a family, creating things we loved and making the world a better place. I didn't bring my hats and was horrified to find that all the hats in Ecuador looked terrible. Here I was in the motherland of Panama hat production without a hat, so I designed my own at the local hatmakers. And so it began.
Over the next year, everywhere we went, tourists would stop me and ask where I bought my hat. I realised I had become a hatmaker.
Harnessing all the skills of the Ecuadorian weavers, their magical straw, and our passion for making genuinely extraordinary hats. We started small, built a website and popped up at local designer markets. We learned fast, mastered our fitting and shaping process and met thousands of beautiful hat lovers.
When our busy summer ended, everything went quiet and we realised we needed to go where the sun was shining (not Melbourne).
The South of France looked exciting, so we filled a container and headed off on a grand adventure. Picked up our vintage Citroen firetruck in London, fitted it out as a home in Ireland, spray painted it in the Netherlands, did the sign-writing in Florence, then settled into Saint Tropez for the summer. Leasing a store on the main square our business blossomed. Navigating the language, staffing, construction, permits, cheeses, wine, children, taxes and endless parties fostered a whirlwind of creative energy.
On our return to Australia, our range had tripled and we were seasoned experts. Our designer markets & our popup stores became hugely successful across the Australian East Coast and our team quadrupled in size.
Then our dream store came up for lease in Saint Tropez, and we carefully planned our return adventure. With queues out the door, and a shop packed with tourists we were the talk of the town. For the next eight years, we swung back and forth between the hemispheres chasing the sun. But there was a longing for a permanent store and a never-ending summer.
Hawaii was the answer. In 2013 we opened our flagship store in Waikiki - a beautiful work of art that flourished beyond our dreams. Skipping between France, Hawaii and Australia - our dreams of travel started to wear us out, so we focused on Hawaii and simplified our operations. Half the year we played on the beaches of Oahu, travelled everywhere, collected vintage cars, made beautiful friends and ate way too much Japanese food. It was glorious. Business was booming so we opened a second store, even more beautiful than Waikiki; right in the middle of Ala Moana - and met a whole new group of hat lovers.
By this time our children missed Australia - our family, friends, chickens, toys and our beautiful forest. Somehow we had changed from hatmakers into retailers, and it felt like something was missing. It was time to go home, so we sold our stores and shipped our lives back to Sherbrooke Forest. Initially we focused on international shipping, local popup stores, wholesale and personal fittings. Then we found the Emporium in Olinda - a gleaming jewel of hatness.
Life has slowed down and we get to appreciate our home deeply, and all the adventures we have had. Working with lovely people, living like locals in exotic countries, fitting 150,000 hats, opening 32 stores, travelling to 29 countries, birthing our two beautiful children, and living a creative life. The adventure continues, and we are back to being hatmakers, and filling our world with hats.
It truly is a beautiful world.
Oska, Imogen, Atticus & Forest Truffaux