We Interviewed the Genius Behind Wander Hats, Julia Warter
Here at Sweety High, we love staying true to ourselves.
Whether it's totally nerding it up and re-reading Harry Potter every year, trying out outlandish makeup trends or attempting to start a TikTok career, we think whatever makes you happy is what you should do.
And that's exactly what Julia Warter of Wander Hat Company did. Not only is this woman a total inspiration to us, but she looks good while doing it, too! Like honestly, it's not fair to be successful and gorgeous, right? Just kidding—but seriously, after getting to speak with her and learn all about Wander, our girl crush was instantly sparked. Her hats are made in the U.S. and are every It girl's dream. We love the idea of wearing her wide brim hats to festivals, brunch or even a hot date night.
We had the absolute pleasure of asking Julia all about her business and the journey she's been on. Keep reading for our full interview with the genius behind Wander.
Sweety High: Tell us about your business, Wander Hat Company.
Julia Warter: Wander Hat Company has been years in the making, but officially launched this year. I've always worked in finance, but have had a love for fashion since moving to Southern California for college 12 years ago. Wander is more than a wide brim hat company—it was a soul cleanse that I desperately needed. It allows me to create, dream, travel and meet extraordinary people. Our hats are designed with quality, style and sustainability in mind. It's a business that isn't looking to turn a quick profit, but to support American businesses by manufacturing a brand 100% made in the U.S. by styling women in the best quality hats they can find.
(Courtesy of Julia Warter)
SH: When did you discover your love for hats?
JW: I started wearing wide brim hats about eight years ago, before they had become mainstream. I always felt so confident in a hat, and when I entered a room wearing one I seemed to make an impression. I started blogging and wanted beautiful hats that were made with great quality to showcase on my blog. Every time I purchased a hat, I noticed that it was overpriced and sourced from China. I was shocked how companies could charge so much money for a product that cost them nothing to make and was such poor quality. I wanted something with a huge, stiff brim that kept its shape and came in beautiful colors that accented my closet. I wanted to create a hat that people couldn't buy just anywhere.
SH: Where do you get your inspiration from?
JW: Traveling is my biggest form of inspiration. Before the pandemic, I was on a flight at least 10 times a year. Whether it was traveling home to see family in Capitola, California, visiting a new city within the U.S. for the first time, or traveling to Europe, I was always in motion. The idea of the name of my business actually came to me while I was on a flight. Flying and traveling is such a form of meditation and therapy for me. Anytime I am taken out of my everyday environment, disconnected from the ground via airplane and then transplanted to an exciting new city full of adventure, it awakens me. My travels to Europe last year sparked inspiration with the colors and textures that I observed. I was inspired to design a blue brim after seeing a stunning blue hat on a woman in Amsterdam. Spain also gave me so many ideas for new styles, as did London. Traveling allows me to see things more clearly. Not only does it allow my creative side to awaken, but it's helped me make so many huge decisions in my life and become the independent woman I am today.
SH: Tell us about your design and manufacturing process.
JW: My biggest hurdle in the beginning of creating Wander was finding an American manufacturer. I was dedicated to starting a sustainable fashion company because I wanted to have a clear conscience about the brand I was creating and the impact I would have on the fashion industry. I discovered that wide brim hat-making is a lost art and few manufactures still exist in the U.S. It took me about four years to find a manufacturer who made great quality brims and also understood my vision. Once I had a manufacturer, the real fun began!
My design process is organic. I keep notes on my phone of colors I want to experiment with and start narrowing down each collection by the trends for the season. Once I have my samples ready to go, my content team and I take photos and share them with our social media community. Having engagement and dialogue gives us a pulse on what inspires our community and gets them excited for our upcoming launch. If we ask customers to vote on specific brims, our DMs will fill up with so much great feedback. Being able to keep the design process inclusive of our customers not only creates a product that customers love, but also makes the design process that much more fun!
SH: What type of person wears your hats?
JW: A lot of different people wear Wander brims. We are inclusive to all people and ages. I initially created Wander with women in mind, but I plan to pivot and create extended sizing for men. Our customer is someone who truly loves hats and is less concerned with fast fashion. Wander customers appreciate quality over quantity, and most of our customers immediately come back for a second hat once their first has been delivered. Not only that, but our customers are travelers and identify with the "Wander lifestyle." So much of our social media content is travel-based, which makes it a fun community to not only look great, but travel to amazing locations and share their experiences with others.
SH: Do you have anything in the works?
JW: I'm currently finalizing my winter collection, which I am very excited about! I'm creating tons of samples this time around with jewel tones in mind. The colors are striking, statement-making and unlike anything else in the market right now. Once my samples arrive, my team and I will share them with our customers on social media so we can decide which hats will make the cut. Like I said before, the Wander community plays a huge role in finalizing the designs and I love being able to include them in the creation process.
SH: When did you start Wander Hats?
JW: Interestingly enough, I launched Wander this year! We launched April 2020. It was the craziest time to start a company, let alone a wide brim hat company! I am 100% self-funded, so I completely panicked. I didn't have a partner to lean on—it was just me. At the beginning of the pandemic, no one was spending money so I was really struggling with how I was going to attain sales. I had dreams of setting up a booth at Stagecoach and Coachella, but obviously all festivals were canceled. The sales were a little slow to come in, but we have had a huge uptick during the past few months and are getting traction thanks to the bloggers and influencers who have been kind enough to wear Wander.
(Courtesy of Julia Warter)
SH: Anything else our audience of teen girls should know?
JW: Even in the darkest of times, a dream can triumph. Because we launched this year, there were a lot of setbacks. As I mentioned, the biggest driver of my sales (music festivals) was no longer an option. There were days that I wished more than anything I could have launched in 2019 and had expedited the process. However, I realized I was focusing on all the wrong things. Because influencers were not getting steady work, they were willing to wear my hats at no cost and post to their stories and feeds. Massive bloggers like Officially Quigley, Chantelle Paige-Mulligan and Sivan Ayla have worn my hats because they are incredibly kind people who saw potential in my brand and had the time to post because we were in a global pandemic. The moment I stopped focusing on the hurdles in my way and was grateful for the pandemic opportunities that had been presented to me, things turned around. My biggest piece of advice for anyone starting a business is to focus on the good. The more positively you can view your business with and roll with the punches, the better things become.
Love fashion as much as we do? Look HERE for the best ways to style sweater vests in 2020.