Aspen Hatter: Shop customizes fit to the individual—on the mountains or in the Hill Country

Ras Redwine of Aspen Hatter steams a hat to make the material more pliable in order to customize the fit. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ras Redwine of Aspen Hatter steams a hat to make the material more pliable in order to customize the fit. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ras Redwine of Aspen Hatter steams a hat to make the material more pliable in order to customize the fit. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Heather Welborn of Aspen Hatter chooses materials to finish a custom-made hat. This band is made out of fabric from a dress.(Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Editor's Note: Aspen Hatters stores in Austin and Colorado are temporarily closed due to public health measures in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

There is a small building tucked in between a neighborhood grocery store and a barbecue joint on Barton Springs Road. It is in the middle of an area that is jam-packed during the Austin City Limits music festival, busy on hot summer weekends and at a low hum even on a somewhat rainy day in March.

When a customer steps into Aspen Hatter, the shop seems to both fit in with that local Barton Springs Road vibe while also providing a shelter from the storm.

On March 9, Ras Redwine and Heather Welborn were working quietly and carefully on custom-made hats for customers who sometimes provide exact specifications or sometimes just give the look they want.

“People will come in sometimes and have a clear idea of what they want. Other people will say, ‘I want to look like a cowgirl at a Metallica show.’ A woman who has me making a hat said, ‘I just want it to be suitable for all the Ritz-Carltons,’” Welborn said.


“It’s specific for each individual, either their style, the shape of their face, or the purpose of what they want to wear it for,” Redwine added.

Austin native Chris Roberts started the store in Aspen, Colorado, in 2015 when, as Redwine tells it, Roberts was not seeing the style he wanted, so he started making hats himself.

Redwine and Roberts have known each other for 26 years, so when Roberts decided to open an Austin store, Redwine went up to Colorado, learned the trade, and the Austin location of Aspen Hatter opened in 2017.

On this particular Monday, Roberts is on the road. In addition to the hat business, he’s a touring musician playing bars from the Blue Light in Lubbock to the House of FiFi Du Bois in San Angelo to the Saxon Pub in Austin.

His manager, Cory Lashever, is hanging out in the store, chatting with Redwine and Welborn as the room fills with steam—a necessary step in the process to soften the hat.

Aspen Hatter has designed hats for everyone from Pierce Brosnan to Matthew McConaughey, but the energy in the store feels more like a friend's living room than the office of a business. Welborn said that is one of the things she believes customers appreciate.

“They spend 30 minutes here or an hour and a half here; they start coming after work some days; and then next thing you know you’re having dinner [with them],” she said. •
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


MOST RECENT

Photo of a woman receiving a vaccine
Travis County vaccine providers receive 46,540 doses week of March 1

Seton Medical Center in Austin received the largest allocation this week, with over 14,000 doses.

Matthew McConaughey, see, here at SXSW 2019, will be one of this year's virtual SXSW speakers. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
SXSW's virtual festival, the PGA Tour returns and more events in Austin this month

From Amplify Austin Day beginning 6 p.m. on March 4 to Bill Gates discussing his new book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," here are eight events happening this month in the Austin area, including both in-person and virtual options.




Ice covered utility lines across Austin. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
SHARE YOUR STORY: How did you survive the Texas freeze?

We want to hear how the winter storms affected you.

Q2 Stadium
Austin FC preseason scrimmages planned for late March start

Preseason matches for Austin FC will be held in South Austin ahead of the team's inaugural MLS season.

Lawmakers began hearings Feb. 25 to hear from energy executives about what led to dayslong power outages following a Feb. 14 winter storm. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin weekly roundup: The storm is over, but the questions are just beginning

In hearings last week, a state senator from the Houston area called the power and water outages in Texas "the largest trainwreck in the history of degregulated electricity."

Crawfish season,  from mid-January through June, is the busiest time at Shoal Creek Saloon. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shoal Creek Saloon brings a piece of New Orleans to Austin

COVID-19 has dealt the Shoal Creek Saloon a blow, but owner Ray Canfield is hanging in there and said he was prepared for a disaster. He just thought it would be another flood, not a virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine for emergency authorization use Feb. 26. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recommended for emergency authorization use by FDA

This is the third COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for emergency authorization use after those produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company Moderna.

Josh Frank, owner of Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in for more than a decade, holds up a Blue Starlite-branded mask. (Photo by Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Long-time Austin theater Blue-Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In takes on new life in pandemic

Drive-in theater Blue Starlite found itself in a unique position in 2020: After more than 10 years as a small business “just getting by,” demand for drive-in movies exploded, owner Josh Frank said.

The University of Texas Radio-Television-Film department will be offering virtual camps this summer. (Courtesy The University of Texas)
2021 Central Austin summer camp guide: 44 options including virtual and in-person offerings

Our list of camps happening in Austin this summer includes options focusing on academics, arts, sports and language.

Samsung's proposed $17 billion chip-making plant would dwarf other recent megaprojects that sought tax incentives in the region.
Samsung’s request to pay no property tax on $17 billion plant tests Austin’s incentive policy

Samsung is asking for 100% property tax reimbursement over 25 years, which would mark the most aggressive corporate tax break in Austin history.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Austin ISD students will begin the 2021-22 school year Tuesday, Aug. 17. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at Austin ISD’s newly approved calendar for the 2021-22 school year

Austin ISD trustees have approved the academic calendar for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.