By MICHELLE AMOUR | Editor-in-chief
PELHAM – Most 17-year-old high school students can’t say they own their own business, but Hunter Thompson of Pelham High School is one of the few who can think of himself as a teenage entrepreneur.
Thompson is the owner and creator of Rippin ‘South, a clothing line of handmade hats and t-shirts. Thompson, who loves to wear hats, came up with the idea “out of the blue” one day while hanging out with his friends.
“I wear a lot of hats and was thinking about ways to start a business or do something pretty big,” he said. “It just occurred to me, why not start a clothing business? “
Rippin ‘South is a brand that Thompson says represents the wild southern outdoors. Each product is sewn with a leather patch featuring outdoor themes like ducks or antlers. The outdoors are very important to Thompson, as he loves to hunt and fish.
Thompson and his friend / photographer Ryan Maxwell work together to make sure every piece represents what Rippin ‘South is. Thompson designed the hats according to what he wanted in his own style, and he got to work designing something that Thompson would wear on his own.
“The first step was to find reasonably priced hats, and my mom found this website where you buy hats in bulk and you can do whatever you want with them,” Thompson explained. “So we bought the first batch of hats like this, then [Ryan and I] hand sewn the first batch of all.
Sewing hats by hand is no easy task, especially when it comes to leather. Thompson loves leather and wanted to incorporate good quality leather into his hats. He uses his mother’s Glowforge laser machine to print the design into the leather, then prints the design.
“There’s a lot of thinking and production going on about what’s going on,” Thompson said. “[Maxwell] and i talk a lot about the design and size of the lettering on each batch, and sewing takes a lot of time as well.
As his business grows, Thompson is not averse to finding ways to cut some of the sewing time.
“This last big batch that we just made, my mom found a friend who has a machine to sew hats, so I brought her the patches and everything and it saved a lot of time,” he said. declared.
Thompson initially said his classmates were skeptical that his vision would pay off, but once Rippin ‘South started production, they quickly changed their minds.
“I started making hats and really getting into them and now everyone wants to buy them,” he said.
Rippin ‘South currently has an Instagram account where people can view his merchandise, and Thompson said he’s also working on setting up a fully functional website. Maxwell is the company’s photographer and graphic designer, and he works very hard to ensure that all photos posted to their public forums represent the hard work Thompson puts in to make Rippin ‘South a reality.
Thompson is set to start at Jefferson State Community College for welding after graduating from Pelham, and he has said he wants to continue Rippin ‘South into his college years, possibly forever.
When asked what he wanted people to know about his standout business, Thompson kept it simple: “A young entrepreneur who does it by hand and puts a lot of sweat and time into it. . “
Visit Rippin ‘South’s Instagram @rippinsouth. To inquire about purchasing, email Hunter Thompson at [email protected]