Hat Attack was founded in 1981 by husband-and-wife team, BJ and Bill Gedney. Influenced by their passion to create modern yet abiding pieces, BJ and Bill started Hat Attack in a studio apartment in Manhattan and together created a high demand for elevated quality craftsmanship at an affordable price.
The couple, who raised their family in Stamford, started working with designers, established companies, and popular stores that were searching for a fresh look in hats.
Their oldest daughter, Cooper McManus, grew up at Hat Attack and is now at the helm of the creative team.
We chatted with BJ and Cooper about working together, what influences their style and some great options for Mother’s Day gifts!
BJ, what has it been like to see Hat Attack grow since it was founded in 1981?
So much has changed! When we started Hat Attack not only were there no computers, we didn’t even have a copy machine.There were no faxes… the list goes on and on. It is hard to imagine all of that now. We did our sourcing and research by looking thru the Yellow Pages!
Cooper, you grew up watching your parents run Hat Attack, when did you realize you wanted to be part of the business?
I think a part of me always wanted it. I was always very creative and wanting to make my own clothes, & accessories. It took me a while to figure out but once I started at Hat Attack, it felt like the right thing.
How has working together made you closer?
Cooper: When you are together almost every day, its sort of inevitable that you will be “closer”. I think that being together every day has been such a blessing for us. It’s helped me really understand everything that my mom did for me as a kid, when I see how hard she works and yet was still able to make dinner for our family every night. I feel very lucky to be able to spend so much time with my mom.
The best part is working together as a team and being able to bounce ideas off of each other. I feel like being family makes it easy to have the same end “goal”, which is to have a special brand and timeless collection that can continue on for years to come.
How have you learned to handle differences of opinion?
I think we’ve really learned to listen to each other. Listening is key in all aspects of business. Once we listed to each other’s opinions and ideas, it makes it much easier to come to a joint conclusion, based on discussion.
Cooper, what about your relationship with your mom do you hope to pass on to your daughters?
Maybe my daughters will want to spend time with me as grown kids and adults, ha! I do think that having a great relationship with my mom is apparent to them, and hopefully it will cause them to want that same relationship with me someday.
BJ, what about Hat Attack are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the relationships we have built over the years with our loyal customers as well as the team of employees that have been with us for so many years.
We have families and second generation at our factory—Not just our own second generation.
We all take pride in the quality products that we produce. It is the reason that our customers come back to us season after season.
How do Hat Attack’s collections reflect your personal styles?
BJ: My style has always been very casual, easy to wear clothes and accessories. I’m a child of the 60’s so there is a bit of a bohemian vibe that has matured with time.
Travel has been a big part of the inspiration for me, so the collection reflects every accessory needed for travel anywhere.
Whether you are headed to a city or to a resort we have you covered.
Cooper: I think my style is actually pretty similar to my mom’s! A little bit boho (inspired from her) mixed with casual, sometimes a bit preppy style. I agree that all of these can be seen in our collection and we truly have styles to cover every person’s style and destination.
What items make the perfect Mother’s Day gifts?
Our straw bags are the perfect Mothers Day gift. As May turns warmer, it is the best way to update your Spring accessories. A great straw hat for around town or for walking is great as well.
Hat Attack spring styles are now 20% off with code HOPE20
with free shipping on domestic orders (with the exception fo Hawaii).
Photos by Maureen Forte