In a blue house along East Live Oak Street in Hutto, a white yard sign with the words “Custom hat shop” sits outside of Jimmy Pierce Designs.

Owner Jimmy Pierce established a physical location for his shop in April 2020, but he said he has had his own hat shop business since 2004 and has been making hats since 1998.

While he was a freshman at Texas Christian University, Pierce said he walked into Peter Brothers Hats in Fort Worth looking for a hat to go with his three-piece suit and wingtips for a night of swing dancing.

“I started talking to the guys there and one of them handed me an open-crown brim hat and said, ‘Here, shape it,’ and I started work the next day,” Pierce said.

Making hats was a side job for Pierce until July 2020 when he decided to go full time after being laid off at his day job during the pandemic.

Walking inside the shop, a variety of hats available for purchase are perched along the wall ranging from film noir fedoras to cowboy hats.

Pierce said he gets his inspiration from classic movies, one of his favorites being “The Maltese Falcon.”

“You get into those old movies, and there’s a lot of variety of hats,” he said. “Lots of times one character will wear two or three throughout the movie so you get to see a lot of different stuff.”

When a customer comes in for a custom hat, he first measures their head. Next, the customer chooses a felt color from among 32 options, ranging from pastel pink to dark forest green.

Pierce said he likes to talk to people for about 30-40 minutes to figure out what the person likes, what they wear and what they like to do. Getting to know the person helps him to come up style ideas that would suit them, he said.

After he orders the felt, the hat arrives unshaped, so it must be steamed and pressed, a process that takes about 30-45 minutes.

It can also take hours to sand the felt to achieve an even and smooth texture. Pierce said there are three to four different stages of sanding with different grits of paper and steaming in between.

The entire process takes about six weeks because it takes a while for all the materials to arrive, but it takes about a week to finish a custom hat. Pierce said the best part of the process is seeing the customer’s face light up as they try on their hat in the mirror.

Pierce’s process

  1. Pierce measures the customer’s head for a proper fit.

  2. The customer picks a felt color from among 32 options, ranging from pastels to darker tones.

  3. Pierce takes time to get to know the customer to determine hat style options.

  4. Once the felt order arrives, he steams the hat.

  5. Next, Pierce presses the brim and irons the crown.

  6. He will sand the felt for a smoother and thinner finish.

  7. Pierce sews the sweatband in and shapes the brim.

  8. Lastly he adds an exterior band and liner.

Jimmy Pierce Designs

103 E. Live Oak St., Hutto

512-565-1805 |

Hours: Tue.-Thu. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Fri.-Mon. varied hours