The clothing side of fashion wouldn’t be what it is without accessories. A scarf, bag, a unique pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and in this case a unique hat can change a look. Ginger Parrish knows hats all too well. It’s a love she’s always had, more so a passion that morphed from a like, to shopping for hats in men’s stores, to starting an online business, to transforming it into brick and mortar. Situated in Salt Lake City, Utah, Parrish and her husband have seen their brand, Gigi Pip grow from strength to strength. She opens up about the journey of Gigi Pip, the highs and the lows.
It’s not quite clear when hats were invented but it’s suspected that the first sightings of hats were discovered on Ancient Egyptian depictions around 3200 BC. Hats were a way for nobility to show their status and to be seen, and a century ago were seen everywhere. For Parrish, it’s a 3 year-old childhood memory of her mom in Hawaii wearing a ball cap that was her ah-ha moment of taking notice of hats.
“The neat thing about this memory now is knowing how many other “hats” she was juggling with such grace. Ones that I had no idea about. I reflect on it often,” says Parrish. “Who knew a simple ball cap would leave such an impact. My mom is a big reason why I am who I am. Her heart and grit and fashion sense has been a north star. As I stepped into motherhood myself, I found myself reaching for my hat to feel a bit more put together. Those early foggy moments where I fought to remember my identity outside of nursing and changing diapers. Fake it till you make it – probably sound silly but wearing a hat continues to remind me that I can make it through even the most delicate times. And look put together while doing it!”
“Hats have always inspired me and given me the confidence I need to do anything I set my mind to,” she continues. Wondering if Europe’s royal families inspired her, Parrish says no. Her mom, her sisters, and herself was her inspiration. “People always think it’s interesting when I tell them my sisters and I didn’t fight over clothes growing up. Being the oldest of 4 sisters, we loved styling each other. My mom taught herself how to cut and color our hair because there were so many of us. I followed suit and went to cosmetology school. My parents raised us to work hard and stick together no matter what! I’d say I was the one setting any fashion standard within my own home with my ridiculous outfits,” she laughs.
Growing up north of Salt Lake City, Utah, in Smithfield, Parrish was convinced she’d never leave her small town. But marriage moved her to the capital city and sparked a different kind of creativity: photography. Creativity runs in her veins but being away from family, Parrish was inspired to start a blog so people could keep up with her and her family, and took a photography class for her blog, and it’s a skill that would later come in handy when launching Gigi Pip.
Not many people think of Utah as a hat wearing place but it is. “Utah is a big agricultural farming state – lots of farmers, lots of country, and lots of cowboys. Hats are definitely worn here. As a young, tired mom, I didn’t make time to wash my hair every day. I have always loved hats but I distinctly remember Jon telling me that if I didn’t stop wearing them I’d be known as the crazy hat lady. Yet I found myself really hoping for more minimal, better quality, classic women’s hats that were actually made for women! I was typically finding my hats shopping in the men’s section at the local department store. Yet most of the best stuff was only accessible online. Who the heck can order a hat online without trying it on though?” she quips, “I knew this was something I wanted to fix.”
As she wore men’s hats, she realized they didn’t fit right. “I grew more and more annoyed by it as time went on. ‘And why aren’t there more women’s options?’ was a constant question she asked at that time. It all stood out to me and Jon too. Men’s hats have been around forever. Women’s have too, they just tend to be a bit more frilly or floppy rather than structured and durable. I am drawn to straight silhouettes with a sturdy brim that won’t lose its shape after 3 wears. I have never been afraid of the men’s section.” But a poor fit led Parrish and her husband to launching their own business.
The birth of Gigi Pip
“When I first met Jon back in 2008 he told me he was an entrepreneur and from what I remember that was the first time I had ever heard that word. Jon is a business mastermind. I don’t recall a time he didn’t have his hand in several side hustles. He is logical, humble, and a full time fire-putter-outer for a handful of different businesses. We are both pretty laid back and one of our first arguments was over the logo for Gigi Pip. He was used to doing everything himself and I knew if we were going to go full package branding and make this not feel like a hat shipping from our spare bedroom mom and pop shop, we needed a better logo. He tried so hard to convince me otherwise but I didn’t listen. I went forward with a full graphic design package and together we landed at our logo that has been our logo since day one. There hasn’t been a time I wanted to change it. Jon and I have been working hand in hand for almost 10 years now. I trust him, he trusts me. It really is my dream team.”
After a few years of an online business, it was time to turn to brick and mortar. Remember when I said Jon was the business and I’m the design brain? It was all on him. We got a note one day from a kind lady who had received a “sticky treat” on her beanie and we knew it was time to take the leap. We needed someplace outside of our home and away from our 3 young boys to ship orders, a local flagship store for women to come get their cup of confidence filled in person. As my career evolved online, I became a bit more introverted and I really worried what people would think if it flopped. My entire family showed up at the grand opening. We knew it was too much room, but Jon had found the perfect location with lots of natural light (always a selling point for me) downtown Salt Lake City, so why not? It felt like a big risk to me, but we were savvy and made it work. We gave it a fresh coat of white paint, stayed up all night building shelves and finding display furniture on a budget. We found some help to install a faux wall for a photography studio and set up a desk to be able to pack and ship orders right out of the back inventory room. Customer service was done from the checkout desk with a full store front to display all of our hats in person, allowing people to shop and try on in person! Jon and I did all of those jobs together by ourselves in the beginning, which feels mind blowing now. Opening our first brick and mortar location allowed for growth in ways we couldn’t have otherwise accomplished.”
“As our company has grown and evolved over the years we have opened more stores, we wholesale to thousands of shops worldwide and are currently building a new Gigi Pip headquarters in our home town,” Parrish continues. “We are going back to where we were when we opened that first store, which means: all fulfillment, design, marketing, shopping, styling, filming, meetings, all the things are going to be coming to life under the same roof and it makes me cry to think about. A real life dream come true. I’m truly glad Jon saw the opportunity and need to expand when it felt the most uncomfortable because I’d probably still be slinging hats out of my spare bedroom and strapping in all of my kids and driving to the post office every day until I’m 90.”
Designing the hats
There was an aesthetic missing from women’s hats that Parrish found in men’s hats. As a woman who appreciates hats, I’m drawn to that masculinity in men’s hats (but I still want to look feminine), and she too felt that way, that’s why she shopped in men’s hat departments. “Reflecting back on where my love and opinion of fashion came from has me remembering sneaking my brothers NBA basketball jersey into my backpack in 2nd grade so that I could change into it when I got to school. The opportunity to not umbrella myself under one “hat” or style- I’m girly. I’m sporty. I’m trendy. I’m feminine. I’m masculine. Whatever it is you wanna call my style – I find joy in MIXING IT ALLLL UP. I’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker. Not one who is told what to wear or how to dress. When you have a deep rooted confidence in who you are, you realize what you’re wearing isn’t going to change that. This is at the core of what Gigi Pip stands for: classic, minimal hat styles with unlimited potential,” says Parrish.
Leading the design team (rather Parrish prefers to call it a family), she oversees and approves all hat designs and accessories. “If I wouldn’t personally wear it, it doesn’t pass,” she says. Drawing inspiration from the women in her life and in her community, the roles that women play in society is her creative push. “I love pulling inspiration from travel and architecture. I love spending time meditating, turning inward and getting outside. Sitting with color. Sitting with names. I read old journal entries and try to channel my heart into every product created. I find going to the library with my kids. I carry a notebook with me at all times because I have found that for me – Inspiration is literally drawn from everywhere,” she explains.
“Over the years as my own personal style has evolved, my love for a minimal hat that has the ability to elevate any outfit in my closet – has remained the same. When I find myself stuck, I go back to where I was when we first started. What I wanted. What was lacking and go from there. Simple, timeless shapes – in a bold color. Or a more trendy shape in a classic neutral color. I don’t typically go for bold color in a trendy style if that makes sense. I built my brand on neutrals and they seem to still be relevant so I don’t foresee that love changing anytime soon!”
Gigi Pip has exceeded Parrish’s expectations and she would go through everything again if she had to, and it is products like the Leather hat Carry Tote that’s genius that sparked the interview. The outside of the tote has a place to fit your hat. “You ever seen someone walking through the airport with 2-3 hats stacked on their head? This was me. When you spend good money on a quality hat you want to be able to bring them with you on vacation without fear of them getting smashed in transport. Insert the hat carrying tote. Took us quite some time to get it just right but I’m so glad we stuck to it. Selfishly it has made my hat travel life so much sleeker. It’s a showstopper in the airport – so be careful if you hate attention. It’s hard to remember travel life without it + excited to share there is more where it came from!” she shares in excitement.
Women are drawn to Gigi Pip hats because they are designed incredibly well and when you see one, you want one. They’re also affordable. The “Emma Wide Brim Fedora,” the “Monroe Rancher- Dusty Pink” are $146. Other hats are $129, and the “Dahlia Boater- Brown” is $108.
Parrish argues that clients gain confidence from them. “Confidence is truly something that I believe all women and men struggle with. Some are better at masking it than others. I hope Gigi Pip continues to remind women every single time they are brave enough to put on their Gigi Pip hat that: YOU CAN DO IT, meaning whatever hat you’re figuratively wearing you are not alone. We build confidence one day at a time, one outfit at a time, one foot in front of the other, and one day at a time.”
2023 can see some products that make traveling with a Gigi Pip hat easier. There are also going to be hats with Panamanian culture, trimmed with genuine leather and delicate metals for a higher end resort line says Parrish. “Might be some of my best work yet. The team has also been doing some incredible western styles for a couple of years and I cannot wait for it to launch. Yellowstone anyone?” she laughs.
Shipping worldwide Parrish boasts of the company’s customer service team, which she hails as the best, who will respond to inquiries 24/7.” Doesn’t fit? Didn’t love the color or shape? We will cover your shipping so you find something you can feel confident in! It’s our confidence guarantee! I believe a woman is unstoppable in a hat she loves!”
Unstoppable herself, Ginger Parrish has been able to create something so unique from scratch with her husband, and her team at a stunning price point. Find out more about Gigi Pip on their website: gigipip.com.
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