COCONINO COUNTY, Ariz. - An Arizona hat company creates pieces rooted in history.
"Creating additional waste is considered disrespectful in our culture. Therefore, we strive to find ways to minimize waste production. As a result, we are repurposing hats. These previously owned hats still possess high quality and have plenty of life left in them," stated Lehi Thunder Voice Eagle Sanchez, Founder/CEO.
The company was established by Thunder Voice Eagle Lehi Sanchez, an artist hailing from the Navajo Nation, located near The Grand Canyon in Arizona in Coconino County.
He continued to explain, "The hats are obtained from individuals or thrift stores, then undergo a thorough cleaning, steaming, and reshaping process. They are later adorned with unique designs to give them a distinctive appearance. Sanchez added.
From there, his sister personally embroiders each hat and every hat carries a unique narrative.
"As I delved deeper into the art world, my work began to evolve into commentary pieces as we faced numerous challenges and sought ways to communicate with the rest of the world. Despite having limited resources, we continue to fight. Our community resides in a food desert, lacking sufficient stores. We are in a job desert, with few employment opportunities. Additionally, we have no water rights, denying us access to this vital resource. These are the obstacles we encounter on our own land."
The Navajo Nation has a rich artistic heritage, renowned for its textiles and exquisite jewelry.
"Our history is a testament to resilience, starting with the creation of beautiful jewelry and later producing the iconic chief blankets," shared Sanchez.
The style of their creations seamlessly blends vintage and modern elements. They typically complete around 12 hats per week, but there are occasions when they manage to produce up to 24 hats. Every endeavor they undertake is driven by a deeper purpose.
"Our aspiration is for this success to benefit not only our family but the entire community. We strive to involve more individuals in our journey," said Nephi Gentle Wind Eagle Sanchez.
Although it is a family-run enterprise, the focus of this business lies in the community.
"I've always had a passion for working with my hands and engaging in artistic endeavors. Being a part of a Native-owned business holds significant meaning for me, given my own Native heritage," shared Amanda Lee Gibson.
The company celebrates and pays homage to the past while simultaneously building a sustainable future for future generations.
"Our aim is to demonstrate a sustainable approach to fashion. What sets hats apart is that they serve a purpose. If you find the right hat and take care of it, it can last a lifetime. It becomes a representation of who we are – resilient, beautiful, and deeply rooted in our culture. It signifies that we are still here today and thriving," expressed Sanchez.