ST. GEORGE — A local startup is on the brink of presenting its product line of high-end hats to consumers who connect with the personal stories behind each apparel item.
The brainchild of the company, Stele Hats, is Brock Rasmussen. He decided a few years ago to make a difference in his life while making a difference in other people’s lives by telling inspirational stories that are linked to a personalized, specific hat design.
“Our ethos is to celebrate those who dare to be brave and have a heart,” Rasmussen said. “We share stories of people who faced obstacles head-on in their lives and endeavored to overcome them. Our stories and hats are meant to inspire us all to face our own mountains.”
Supported by his wife Julie, his business confidant, contributor and self-taught graphic designer, the 35-year-old millennial anticipates his company to become a success in what is possible.
Assisted by connections at Dixie State University’s Atwood Innovation Plaza, Rasmussen previously helped others run their businesses. But he said it was a hollow career. Now living his dream, he is able to be the master of his own destiny.
“I wanted to do something from the ground up,” Rasmussen said. “I remember about 18 months ago struggling with my work and frozen, not being able to do anything.”
The stress of work and not believing he had fulfilled his potential in life had caused Rasmussen to feel alone. Although married with a loving family, he looked at others and their “idyllic” careers.
“It wasn’t until months later that my friends and neighbors were going through the same type of things I was experiencing,” Rasmussen said. “Feeling overwhelmed, we all told the same story.”
In today’s social-media with its 24/7 connection to other lives, the loneliness becomes too much if one feels unaccomplished.
After doing some outreach and attending an influential conference on building a brand, Rasmussen’s business model began taking shape.
“Our hats dare to show the world what it means to be brave,” he said. “There are always people who endeavor to overcome obstacles, do things to better their lives or take actions to help others. A lot of the time this happens on an island and isn’t focused on for direction.”
The business concept of Stele Hats is to create a platform for others to share their stories through individually designed hats.
For now, Rasmussen plans on exclusively selling a line of baseball-style hats sold through social media at a price point of $40. He will offer free shipping and no-questions-asked free returns. If successful, he said, the potential exists to sell other types of apparel.
When the official launch party jumps off on Jan. 11, two stories of overcoming adversary will feature prominently in the product line.
Tanner Mangum, a former Brigham Young University quarterback, was one of the top high school athletes in the nation when he entered college in 2015. After a stellar freshman year at BYU, Mangum’s stats began to slide, Rasmussen said.
“After throwing two back-to-back game-winning touchdown passes, he gained national prominence,” Rasmussen added. “But, his second season he played terribly. During this time (Mangum) began developing anxiety and depression around the pressure he was surrounded by.”
Because athletes are often shy about sharing intimate feelings of mental distress, Mangum thought it was time to break that glass ceiling.
“Since he has graduated, he has made mental health his platform,” Rasmussen said. “Out hat, in collaboration with him is to raise awareness about mental health issues.”
Mangum’s logo on his Stele hat is “break the stigma.”
Rasmussen said the stigma to break is the one that prevents many from talking about the mental crisis they are experiencing.
The second hat now in its prototype phase of development features Jon Potter, a Pittsburgh resident that has devoted his time to helping others.
Through a pivotal moment in Potter’s life after turning away a woman in need, he saw the folly of helping others on his terms and decided to give of his time and efforts unconditionally while not expecting anything in return.
“As part of his trade as a handyman, he decided to help anyone in need,” Rasmussen said. “He would do things like patch roofs, installed railings, helped people move and will do it all for free.”
More than simply a good samaritan, Potter, who now runs Pittsburgh Good Deeds has gone above-and-beyond providing normal charity to others by once donating a kidney to a needy patient according to Rasmussen.
Currently, Stele Hats have six inspirational stories to tell, but the sky is the limit, Rasmussen said.
Initially, sales will be directly on consumer-marketing platforms that will include video and social media blasts to tell the story behind each hat. Potentially, the hats could be sold at local brick-and-mortar stores in St. George.
“We hope to provide a unique experience when someone buys online,” Rasmussen said. “Our end goal is to provide a very personalized experience to all of our consumers. I want our hats to become something that inspires people.”
Despite not officially being open, it’s been worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
“I want to have a company of culture and ideals of reaching out and helping others,” Rasmussen said. “We want to inspire others who are either feeling uninspired and need help or who are feeling inspired to help others.”
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