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The Story

It all started in the summer of 2019 after I graduated from the University of South Carolina. One day I was shopping for a vintage Carolina Panthers hat online, which I liked to do from time to time. I saw so many cool vintage hats for other teams and thought to myself, “Man, I would definitely buy that hat if I was a fan of that team”. I knew I had a special eye for vintage hats, as I had a great collection and always had people asking me where I got them from.

I got a degree in entrepreneurship in college and always had a dream to start a business. The very next day, I spent the whole day shopping for vintage hats online. I spent $750 of graduation money on my first batch of hats. In the coming months, I sold a lot to my friends, created social media pages and a website, and Shells Vintage Hat Co. was off the ground from there.

I ended up moving to Charlotte, NC in August of 2019, getting a sales job in which I read off a script and made 250+ cold calls per day. At night I was working hard on my hat business as a side hustle, consistently shopping online for vintage hats and doing weekly drops. I hand-picked all of my hats, took customer requests, and was very specific when it came to the design, fit, and manufacturers that made the hats. I believe that is why I started to stand out in the crowded world of vintage resellers.

I quickly realized that I could not scale the business by just buying and selling hats that I found online. I started making my own designs on Canva and found a manufacturer that I trusted. For the record, I had absolutely no experience in graphic design. From there, my State Snaps, City Snaps, and other collections were formed. After releasing my first wave of State Snaps, Shells Vintage Hat Co. took off. I was able to quit my job and started doing Shells Vintage full time in July of 2021. 

I live in Charlotte, NC and run the business out of my apartment and a storage unit. The company is growing steadily and I am still learning new things every day. I think my story just goes to show that if you set your mind to starting a business and work hard at it as a side hustle, you can be successful. 

I had no experience building a website, shipping anything, running business social media pages, creating content, keeping books, graphic design, or really anything when it comes to running a business. I self-taught myself everything and took the risk to quit my job and throw myself into this business. If you want to start a business, be ready to not know (a lot), work very hard, feel uneasy, be a jack of all trades, and take a lot of risks. Check out the books below, as they were critical in my journey and will help inspire you! If you are consistent, have a vision, and trust yourself, you can be your own boss!

- Jake