Locals We Love: A Series
From their outdoor activities to their professional means, these locals are fueled by their passion of pursuit and place. It's not always easy living in a mountain town, but from powder mornings to post-work projects, it’s this shared love that creates a community and connects us all. Through drive, sacrifice and creative determination, these locals have chosen passion first. This season, we bring you their stories - stories that continue to inspire us in our ever-evolving pursuit of the mountain life.
Christy Sing of Sing Hat Company
Located just off the Jackson Town Square, where modern mountain life fuses with the roots of a time-capsuled cowboy town is a hat making studio called, Sing Hat Company. The studio has a history of hat making that dates back to 1983 when it housed the original Jackson Hole Hat Company. Christy Sing, founder of Sing Hat Company felt a calling to pursue the craft of hat making and moved into the space in the fall of 2018.
As a Jackson resident of over 15 years Christy loves Jackson for the access to public lands, for the inspiring landscape of the Teton mountains, and for the wild that surrounds her. “This town has grown me up,” says Christy. “I have learned to really appreciate toil. It slows you down to work with your hands and it is so meaningful to do these mountain town chores, and that is one of the reasons I think I love hat making. When I started gardening and I started chopping wood and I started cooking and other chores, the work just felt so beautiful, and it started to unfold so much more of me that I didn’t really know was there. And I think hat making does a lot of the same thing. When you start something from scratch and turn a heap of material into a beautiful creation that someone will cherish for decades to come, that’s special.” She feels lucky to have found her calling, and even luckier to have found it in a mountain town she loves.
Christy moved to Jackson from Arkansas in 2003 to work a summer job for Lost Creek Ranch and immediately fell in love with the mountain landscape. She returned to Arkansas in the fall, but the hook had been set for mountain life and reeled her back two years later when she returned to Jackson for good.
The story of Sing Hat Company starts when Christy was much younger and saved her money to buy a Stetson hat that she still holds close to her heart. Years later, this love for hats blossomed into a desire to create her own. When she found one she could shape herself she brought it to a hat studio in the back of an old consignment store where the Jackson Hole Hat Company started. The owner, Marilyn Hartman, agreed to help shape it and together they bonded over the craft. Marilyn shaped the hat so perfectly to Christy’s head that when Christy left the studio she knew she would find her future making hats. A couple of days later she reconnected with Marilyn seeking apprenticeship, but was quickly rejected due to inadequate tools and time. As with many people trying to make it work in a mountain town, Christy’s passion to find a way did not subside. After letting the denial simmer for a few months Christy returned to the consignment store and recounts, “I started speaking to Marilyn, and she said, ‘I cannot stop thinking about you, and if you get an apprenticeship I will give you the studio space in the back to make and sell hats and I will make you an offer you can’t refuse.’”
A year later, Christy had completed her apprenticeship and moved into the studio space to start Sing Hat Company. The front of the store is a little like a, “Texas roadside flea market,” says Christy, “Customers have been coming into this building for 30 years to have their hats worked on." Preserving the traditional craft of hat making is one of many ways to honor the heritage of the town, and in making hats Christy has found a way to contribute to maintaining Jackson’s character. “The people who come here want that experience and want to get a taste of this culture,” says Christy. And since she opened her doors in the fall of 2018, business has been good - blown her hat off, if you will.
Her passion comes through in the quality of materials she so carefully choses, all sourced from the USA. Christy pays special attention getting to know each client so she can create a hat to match their personality. Every design, when completed with the proper care and attention to detail, typically takes about eight hours to make. When the process is complete and the owner picks up their new hat, Christy feels a great sense of accomplishment for helping connect another person to the mountain life she loves through a traditional western craft.