From a single hat to an entire company, Baylor alum’s company blossoms in Waco
When Hunter Harlow (BS ’10) graduated from Baylor with a degree in geosciences/geology, he didn’t imagine taking the road less traveled.
It all started with an idea to create a cooler hat for Big Bend National Park; Sendero Hat Co. created a fun design that included a topographic map inside the bill of the hat. Soon enough, they rebranded to Sendero Provisions Co. and went from packing up hundreds of boxes during their lunch break to hiring about 20 people full-time and operating their own warehousing, fulfillment and distribution. Today, the brand is international.
“It’s wild. We’re in a few stores in France, a few in the UK, Germany, Spain, and Japan,” Harlow says. “Two years ago we sold our 100,000th hat, and now we’re at our 300,000th. And the fun thing now is that it’s not just hats. We’ve got an in-house fashion team, and often our question is, ‘What else do we want in our closets?’ Almost everything I wear now is Sendero.”
Harlow credits a lot of business success to the STEM mindset he received at Baylor.
“It teaches you how to critically think, how to problem solve, pattern recognition, being a self-taught learner, and then being able to apply, especially geoscience,” Harlow says. “It’s the same thing I do with Sendero. I take all of these different aspects of business or running a fashion brand or e-com or wholesale or supply chain or design, production, sourcing, and then bring them all together to make a product.”
Often, people are surprised these products are dreamt up in Waco, Texas.
“I feel like Texans have opinions on Waco, but if you’re actually here, a part of the community, you know it’s a special place,” Harlow says. “Of course, Waco has grown since 2006, and being a Baylor grad, it was important to me to invest in the community here. It’s where all of our friends, our church, and the family that we’ve made are.”
Community is a big part of the Sendero brand. It’s part of why, across the globe, people love their products.
“We’re trying to build a lifestyle and a lifestyle brand; we know we’re not cowboys, and we own that,” Harlow says. “I’m hyper conscious about that, as I want to be super authentic and come with a sense of ‘This is who we are and is representative of how we grew up, the culture that we experienced growing up and who we are now.’”
Harlow mentions an example — their cap that reads “Cowboy Hat” across the front — as a perfect example of creating their own brand. The hat is now viral, being seen on celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber and in Teen Vogue.
“It’s amazing because everyone embraces it; everyone knows they can be a part of the brand,” Harlow explains. “We’re in Free People, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Madewell, Cavender’s, Atwoods, etc. — that’s a wide range of audiences. Any and all are welcome.”
Sendero Provisions Co. continues to create a lifestyle, and they’re always inviting others to be a part of it, especially Baylor students looking for work experience. The group loves being involved with Baylor through internships, speaking at the business school, etc.
“We hope to continue to be a part of the community and pour into it,” Harlow says. “I wouldn’t be here doing this in Waco without Baylor — I’m incredibly thankful.”
Sic ’em, Hunter and Sendero Provisions!