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Who: Job “Jobe” Sanchez, Jobe’s Hats owner and master hatter
When: Opened his first store in 2016
Employees: 30, including eight hat shapers
What: Western wear store
Where: Inside Fort Worth’s La Gran Plaza. Jobe’s Hats ships across the world.
Fort Worth Report spoke with Jobe Sanchez about his business. Some of this interview was conducted in Spanish. It has been edited for content, length, grammar and clarity.
Marcela Sanchez: I’m interested in hearing how you started.
Jobe Sanchez: I’m originally from Durango, Mexico; moved here when I was 14. I started in the Western business when I was 16. I started working at Sheplers in between school and working. I went to work for Cavender’s, and that’s when I really made my name out there as a hatter, Jobe’s Hats. That was my nickname, “Jobe’s Hats.” And I just loved the Western retail lifestyle. From there, I went to Boot Barn. I was there for four years. Every weekend, I had a line of people that wanted me to shape their hats.
Marcela: When you started working in the Western world, you started shaping hats?
Jobe: I was 16 years old. I used to shape them at home and then tweak them here and there. Then there was a guy who got sick, and the manager at Sheplers was like, ‘Hey, you’re up. Your turn. Looks like you know what you’re doing.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t. It’s like my first day.’ I made about 40 bucks back in 1996. Back then, 40 bucks was 40 bucks.
Marcela: Now you’re how old?
Jobe: I’m 44 now. It’s been a long journey. Then, I decided to start my own business. I was like, ‘You know what? I have enough crowd to follow me everywhere I go. Why not try to do something for myself?’ I’m a Hispanic, Mexican guy and most of these stores are a mainly white environment. I’ve seen some stuff that I didn’t like in those stores …
Marcela: Can you talk about some of those things you didn’t like?
Jobe: I wanted a store where people came in and they would greet you. Sometimes, a Hispanic couple would walk in at Cavender’s. We worked for commission at Cavender’s. What you sold is what you got paid for …
The guys would be like, ‘Hey, you go help your people, they’re not going to buy anything.’ I’m not speaking bad of the company, I’m speaking bad of the salespeople that worked there. That right there just got to me. I was like, ‘Look, we buy stuff, we work hard.’ I would help everyone, whether they were Black, white, Hispanic, pink, red, I didn’t care. I started really small — just me and my wife. We started with 750 square feet and invested the little savings that we had.
Marcela: How many employees did you start out with?
Jobe: We had two. Me and my wife and two employees. We got to the point where we didn’t fit in. We had a line all the way out to the door and (into) the hallway of (La Gran Plaza mall). This location came along (inside La Gran Plaza). Now we’re at 10,000 square feet. On the weekends, we get a line. You have to wait two to three hours just to get a hat shaped. But, we focus on making sure the customer leaves happy from here. It doesn’t matter what color you are. I think that’s why we’ve been successful, because we’ve been focusing on customer service that makes sure everybody gets greeted in their language; it doesn’t matter what it is.
We do a lot of things for the community. We sponsor rodeo teams, bands, and donate uniforms to local soccer teams.
Marcela: Do you plan on expanding?
Jobe: Slowly, but we’re planning to. Monday through Sunday, we probably get about 6,000 to 7,000 people in total. I feel blessed that people have given us so much support.
(My story) is really not a magic story, but a story of overcoming and effort.
Marcela: What about your name? It’s a Bible name. Do you credit your name to your success?
Jobe: My mom said that ever since I was a little kid, I would rather give than receive. I’ve read the Book of Job. Some of what I read when I was little, made me who I am right now.
To me, every hat tells a story. I can remember a customer just by the hat. We have a saying that says, ‘It doesn’t matter where you buy it, it’s where you get it shaped.’
Marcela: And you said your 19-year-old is a hat shaper, too?
Jobe: The other ones know how to shape, too, even the 10-year-old.
Marcela: And you train all of the hat shapers?
Jobe: We train most of them, yes. Some of them already come trained and we just train them our way.
Marcela: You have your signature style?
Jobe: We do have our signature. We do have our tricks that I’ve done for years, and I try to teach them everything I know.
We specialize in open crown hats. Ninety-nine percent of our hats are open and flat. We custom shape them to your liking. We turn the hat blank into whatever style you like. We shape them all by hand.
We’re the first store in the world that did infant, open crown hats. This little bitty hat can fit a baby from 2 months to 8 months.
Marcela: What exactly is an open crown hat?
Jobe: An open crown is flat with no shape. We steam it and we shape it and do it all by hand. Most stores sell pre-shaped hats. Here with us, we’ve got to center it for you, and then we shape it to you. Each hat is unique, it’s unique to you.
Another thing that I think makes us different is that we carry every brand in the market.
Marcela: Where do your hats ship to?
Jobe: We ship all over the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia and Europe.
Marcela: They order them online?
Jobe: On social media, they see what we do and they buy online.
Marcela: And you sell everything from boots to belts, too?
Jobe: Now we have a full Western store. We started out as a hat store, and now we have the men’s side and the boutique, which my wife takes care of.
The people from the mall call us an anchor store to La Gran Plaza. I think it’s a pretty amazing name. “Anchor” means we mean something here.
Marcela Sanchez is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.