Chandler Scott: The Not-So-Mad Hatter of Springville
Chandler Scott always loved hats, even as a young boy. But it was while he served an LDS mission in Colombia that his passion really caught fire. And it led to the creation of Tatton Baird Hatters of Springville, truly one of Utah’s most unique, homegrown businesses.
“[Every] tribal group in Colombia had a cool, vintage, turn-of-the-century hat that they held on to for decades,” Scott says. “Everywhere in South America, men and women in these little villages have these cool little hats. I didn’t realize when I came back home how those memories would carve my future.”
He returned to Utah after his mission, earned a degree from Brigham Young University and began working in a bicycle shop. But bikes were not his passion—hats were. So 15 years ago, he sold the shop and began working as an apprentice for milliner Jim Whitington and “re-educated myself in a different way and direction.” He also learned of a man named John Charles Tatton—whom Mormon leader Brigham Young financed when Tatton began his business as a hat maker.
“Once I decided to strike out on my own and create my shop, it felt right to name my business after Tatton,” Scott says.
The man knows his hats. One of his favorite stories is of Teddy Roosevelt who, while in Panama during the building of the great canal, found a hat made in Ecuador that he loved. When he returned to Washington, many asked him where he got it and he told them in Panama. So it became known in this country as a Panama hat.
“But it’s an Ecuadorian hat,” Scott explains.
His shop sits in “the historic hub of Springville.” It was built in 1891 and is in the same neighborhood as Central Bank’s original location, along with the Reynolds Building and the old Carnegie Building. Over the years, his location has been home to many businesses, including an insurance agency, a sandwich and pizza joint, a boutique, and most recently, as an emergency preparedness store. When Scott purchased it, it took almost a year to re-wire and prepare for hat production. Today, the walls are covered with thousands of “blocks,” the tools he uses to shape hats in a variety of sizes. The building’s basement is filled with blocks as well, along with a storage unit nearby.
Word of Tatton Baird Hatters’ creations has spread across the nation and around the world. On the day of our interview, Scott and his staff were preparing a 50-hat order to ship to Japan, where he has a shop. He also has shops selling his hats in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Germany, Sweden and England.
“The secret to a good hat is largely the material it’s made from,” he says. “Beaver fur has always been the pinnacle of materials for hat making. The city of Toronto is the third-largest financial center in North America, and its growth was all based on the fur trade.”
He uses a beaver blend for his hats, praising its durability—waterproof, long lasting, better fit. Scott has several hats in his collection that are more than 100 years old.
“I’m kind of an anomaly considering where I came from,” he says with a smile. “Grew up in Los Angeles, went on a mission at 19, got married at 23, and moved to Springville 20 years ago. I’ve been here ever since.”
Photos by Mark Owens