Yes, men knit. In fact, they were the first knitters to craft textiles.
Carrying on that tradition, Jimmy Moorman, who owns and operates Jimmy Hats from his home at Snowshoe, with his wife, Courtney, picked up the craft a few years ago.
“Honestly, one day, Courtney went to the arts and crafts store, and I went with her,” he said. “I saw a loom in there and I decided to try to make my own hat. Slowly, very slowly, I started making hats. It was trial and error. It was very frustrating, at first.”
With the help of YouTube instructional videos, Jimmy found his groove and found a pattern he liked.
“Finally, I just figured out a pattern, figured out how to do it and one thing led to the next, and we sold our very first hat at a wakeboard cable park,” Jimmy said. “We were like ‘wow, people really like these.’”
“It was more for personal use at the time,” Courtney added.
The couple didn’t intend to start a business selling hats, but soon, the interest of potential customers led to the creation of Jimmy Hats, LLC.
“We started backpack peddling,” Courtney said. “Then we were driven by everyone’s faces lighting up at the hats. He was making all the hats. I just recently started helping.”
“Once the demand exceeded my capabilities,” Jimmy added, “I needed a lot of help, and Courtney has been fabulous at it because she gives a whole other side to the hats. I’m a guy. I look at it like ‘okay, these colors look good.’ She has a lot more style than I do.”
The hats are mainly one size fits all, but Jimmy and Courtney are branching out into kids sizes, too. They are made with acrylic yarn which is machine washable and forms to the head better.
“If you look at one of the original hats and then one of the ones we have now – there is a progression of the hats,” Courtney said. “Especially with him going through phases of learning what types of yarns to use – what fits better, what looks better, what doesn’t itch – all those factors. Then coming out with a product and really understanding how it works.
“I think there’s more of a Jimmy Hat particular style,” she continued. “The look – color and pattern. We’re all over the place. It’s like a new slogan we’ve been working with which is ‘Be Unique.’ Each hat is unique.”
“One thing we do as well, we fold our brims,” Jimmy added. “We take that step for them so they don’t have to do that. It’s kind of one of our signature looks.”
The wearers are also able to wear the hats under skiing and snowboarding helmets.
After a while, the couple went from “backpack peddling” to selling their hats at the Ski Barn’s five locations – Snow Creek at Silver Creek, Ski Barn at Snowshoe, as well as Wintergreen Resort, Winter Place and Timberline.
“We’ve been approached by several other stores, and we’re really trying to keep it as a niche item for Ski Barn because they’re extremely excited about being the only carrier of the hats,” Jimmy said. “The fact now that we’re only made here in West Virginia, only made at Snowshoe is also cool.”
Jimmy and Courtney are originally from Newport News, Virginia, and visited Snowshoe for several years. They are now officially Snowshoe residents.
“We would come up here every single weekend pretty much,” Courtney said. “We used to go to a bunch of different places. We started meeting some of the locals here and felt so welcome.”
“It felt more like home to us and now it is,” Jimmy added. “It’s funny how things work like that.”
Now that they are full-time Snowshoe-ites, Jim-my and Courtney have noticed several heads on the mountain wearing Jimmy Hats.
“Last year, we really noticed them while walking through The Village,” Courtney said.
“It’s really flattering, and it’s really humbling, as well,” Jimmy added. “It’s really neat.”
Jimmy introduced Courtney to snowboarding and now, it’s part of their career.
“It’s his fault,” Courtney said, laughing. “He’s the one who got me into it.”
“I work the terrain park for snowboarding and skiing in the winter,” Jimmy said. “I help with snowmaking in between seasons and work the mountain bike park in the summer.”
On top of their “day jobs” and promoting Jimmy Hats, the couple sponsors several riders and events in the ski and snowboard industry.
“We sponsor a bunch of rail jams, and skiing and snowboard events,” Jimmy said. “We’ve met a lot of pros, and it’s unbelievable the support that they’ve given us. We’ve put together a snowboard team and it’s just guys that we sponsor – local riders, guys out west – and they go around competing in tournaments, wearing our products and wearing our T-shirts.”
They also sponsor some events at Snowshoe, including the preseason rail jam and the Progression Session jams. They hope to sponsor the West Virginia Open, as well.
While the small business has been embraced in the industry and at Snowshoe, there are still times people find it hard to believe that Jimmy is the knitter in the family.
“There are so many times we’ve been out in public and I’m explaining the hats, and people were thinking I was making them,” Courtney said. “I say, ‘no, my husband makes the hats’ and they don’t believe me.”
Jimmy also caught some flack, mainly from his friends.
“A lot of my buddies made fun of me and then, when they saw how much people love the hats, that kind of set them back a little bit,” Jimmy said. “The other thing, one of my buddies, he wanted me to teach him how to knit because women love knit hats and he said, ‘I can’t believe how many women are coming up and talking to you.’”
The couple play up the male knitter “phenomenon” with the name of their website: SoWhatIKnit.com
“I won’t say I’m a trendsetter, but…” Jimmy said, laughing.
While the hats have made a name for themselves on the slopes, its the combination of Jimmy and Courtney that really make Jimmy Hats a success. The couple support each other and the company so well, they are like the Dynamic Duo, without the capes.
“Without Courtney, none of this would be possible,” Jimmy said. “Yeah, I started making hats, but she’s been the one that’s pioneered the complete transition from a guy making hats to an actual company. Everything from the logos to stickers and promotional items, giveaways, the business license. It’s a lot of work.”
“He sees me a lot of times banging my head on the keyboard,” Courtney said, laughing. “It’s good to have the support of each other.”
“I’m over there making hats saying, ‘what’s that, honey? Oh, that sucks,’” Jimmy added. “I’ve got the easy job.”
Overwhelmed by the support they have received from Snowshoe and the riders on the mountain, Jimmy Hats sponsors a Thank You Bash at Old Spruce Café and Tavern.
“This year it will be held December 5, and it’s just kind of a thank you to the community,” Jimmy said. “We just really like to thank everyone for all the support. We’re flattered every day, and it’s very humbling to see your product get the support, especially the locals, who embrace it the way they have. That’s been the biggest thing for us and that’s why we feel – and have always felt – like this is home.”
The Thank You event will feature entertainment provided by Shawn Owen Band, specials and giveaways from Terrapin Beer Company, the Ski Barn and Action for All, a nonprofit board sports company. Skull Candy is a co-sponsor of the event and will provide giveaways, as well.
“It was a blast last year, for sure,” Courtney said.
“No matter what happens in the future, we will always have an event,” Jimmy said. “We will always come back. That’s really important to us.”