Meet Sarah Haske, founder of HEC Studio (High Elevation Creations)! Sarah creates unique hats and beanies, hand stitched with love and a focus on FUN. No two hats are the same and use bright swatches of fabric with bold patterns she’s found and collected in her world travels!
NOTE: Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to check out the amazing custom hats she made JUST for us and for celebrating mountain mamas. For sale now in very limited quantities.
Sarah uses these fun fabrics to create designs with mountain or outdoor themes, reflecting her life and love of the mountains of Colorado.
In this day and age of mass-produced products and fashion designed to fit in with the crowd, it was so refreshing to find a female entrepreneur who inspires creativity through her designs!
Not only does Sarah hand-stitch all her creations, she does it from her tiny-house/studio-on-wheels, Lucy the school bus. Lucy actually has her own fan-following, with her conversion having been featured on HGTV’s show “Tiny House, Big Living.” (Check it out on Amazon.com – Season 3, Episode 12, “Tiny Bus Workshop”) Living and working in a school bus is pretty unique, and allows Sarah to travel and sell her creations all over Colorado.
If you’ve ever been to Colorado, you know that Coloradans are SUPER EXCITED about the state they live in, and love to rock the state flag on every available surface. After 4 years of living in Colorado, I can’t help myself and I do it too. HEC Studio’s most popular design is, no surprise, her unique versions of the Colorado state flag. Sarah was kind enough to share one of her trucker hats with me to test-drive! I love trucker hats. They are considered part of my “mom uniform.” No time to wash my hair? Hat. Forgot sunscreen? Hat. Headed for a hike? Hat. Want to look extra fun for a night out? Hat. Is it Tuesday? Hat. I wear them constantly.
I’m happy to report that HEC Studio hats are beautifully crafted, with dainty stitching patterns and a close attention to detail. The color combinations are fun and eye-catching, but still manage to look great with almost everything in my wardrobe! And of course, I get compliments 24/7 on the fun design. The durability is great as well – I spent a week in AZ and crammed this hat in my suitcase, clipped it to the outside of a backpack, and even accidentally stepped on it a few times, when it wasn’t on my head. It still looks brand new, with no wrinkles or damage.
To understand more about Sarah’s unique business, I asked her to sit down with me for an interview…
How did you get inspired to create your own business, making and selling hats?
My boyfriend of 5 years, Ryan, was diagnosed with cancer and died a year and a half later. This was obviously a total shock and loss for myself and many others, as he was only 32 when he passed. When Ryan died, I told myself I never was going to do something I didn’t want to do again. Grieving Ryan is also what lead me to my sewing machine. I needed to create as an outlet, which then grew into HEC Studio!
What was the very first hat you ever created?
It’s VERY different from what I’m creating nowadays! It was a used hat I got at a thrift store, the swatch covered the entire front of the hat, and I hand-stitched it on with yarn!! I’ve come so far from that first hat, but I still have it and look at it often, as it reminds me of how far I have come.
What was the scariest/hardest part about starting HEC Studio?
I knew nothing about starting a business! But, lucky me, there is this thing called Google!
You just bought a house in Alma, CO, but still work from and travel in Lucy, the “Skoolie.” We LOVE LUCY. Where in the world did you get the idea to move into and work from a bus?
I have some friends that started a non-profit called “Bus to Show,” to keep drunk drivers off the road when going to Colorado music venues, like Red Rocks. The buses allowed people to still have fun, but also to be safe. One of the founders, Charlie Kern, now converts school buses into tiny homes and other spaces. When I first meet this crew of “Skoolie” people, I realized that buying a bus would answer all my problems of needing a studio and home in one space. I did the entire demo of Lucy myself, and then hired Charlie and my friend, Ben, to help with the build.
Lucy is fully off-grid pulling 1800 watts of power through her 6 solar panels that line the roof of the bus. All hats are sewn and made with solar power thus making a sustainable product! Lucy also has a 100 gallon water tank (lasts about 2 weeks, with careful usage), composting toilet, full shower, full kitchen (stove, sink, and fridge) and plenty of working and living room!!
When I bought Lucy, I remember I went to the bar with my friends to celebrate the fact that I bought a 40-foot school bus, that I didn’t even know if I could drive! Ha! I had never driven a vehicle that big before, but it didn’t stop me. I didn’t know a single thing about school buses, but now I know A LOT and I drive one like a pro. You can do anything you set their mind to. Sky’s the limit! You just need to want it that bad and go for it with everything you have!!
Do you live on the bus in the winter? In Colorado? Are you nuts?
I’ve lived in Lucy for 4 years and that includes ALL seasons…spring, summer, fall, and winter!! We built Lucy with 2.5” of spray insulation, which helps tremendously with keeping her warm and cool! Winter time does take a little more effort to keep her warm, but it’s very doable!!
My partner, Ian, and I just bought a house together, which is really exciting personally, but also because I now have a second studio: one in Lucy and one in the house! Lucy was the perfect stepping stone for HEC Studio. I needed a portable space for business and travel, and now look: I’m living in a house!
A lot of folks DREAM of being on HGTV… What was it like, having them film you and your bus conversion??
I’ve never been on a TV show before, so it was hard when they say, “Act normal” and “Don’t look at the cameras.” There were 3 cameras on you, so where do you look? How do you act normal in that setting? It was really fun working with HGTV and the crew. It was such a great thing for HEC Studio to be on TV too!
What’s your favorite way to recreate/play outside in Colorado?
I love camping, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and traveling to different places around CO. There are so many gems to travel to! My new house backs up to thousands of acres of National Forest land, that I can ski, bike, hike, and camp on!!
As a busy, self-made, working woman, what do you do to keep your sanity when things get crazy?
Getting outside it ALWAYS the best option for me to re-group, before losing my mind. Creating new things also makes me SO happy and keeps me out of a funk! HEC Studio is my version of “do what you love.” I lead with my heart, knowing that I’m living my life to the fullest, and that’s all that matters! HEC Studio can show others along the way they too, can live a life of ANYTHING they could EVER dream of!!!
Mountain Mama Beanies
Amelia here! Sarah and I worked super hard with the help of super-logo designer, Ilka Hadlock, to create some fun “Mountain Mama” beanies. I am so thrilled how they turned out and can’t wait to see YOU wearing them as you share your adventures with us. Because us mamas have to stick together! Be sure to watch our instagram for lots of photos. The hats can be worn slouchy style (like photo above) or rolled. The fabric behind the logo is all different, just like we are all unique.
I have less than 50 of them to sell, so order quick for best color selection! And then be sure to share them with us and tag #tellusyourmamatales.
Article written by team member, Ginny.
Meet Team Member, Ginny: Ginny has spent her career focused on getting people outside; working with the Park Service, Forest Service, Student Conservation Association and Keystone Science School, as well as spending a decade in the outdoor retail industry. She practices what she preaches, so can usually be found outside: downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, riding her dual-sport motorcycle, running, and SUPing in the summer. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband, 1-year old son, and awesome trail dog.
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