Over the course of the summer, students find various ways to keep themselves busy. Some prepare for the fall athletics season while others might find a job, but unlike most other students, Caroline Watkins (‘22) spent her summer making and selling hundreds of trucker hats. In April of this year, Watkins decided to start her own hat company called Makia Trucker Co. She lay in bed at 3:00 am one night when the idea flashed into her mind. Watkins admitted that the idea was “pretty random […] I’ve just always had that entrepreneurial spirit […] and get really bored when I don’t have something to do all the time.” She knew that trucker hats were becoming increasingly popular, so she decided to try making her own.
Watkins first searched for a name for her newly founded company. She ended up choosing the Hawaiian word “Makia” which means “energy flows where attention goes” because she wanted her company to “exude good vibes.” She then purchased hats of various colors and adorned them with different patches. The hats with a smiley face patch soon became one of her most popular products. By the beginning of summer, Watkins’ company took off as she started receiving an influx of orders.
Watkins credits the early success of her company to social media. She posts quite frequently on Instagram and coordinates with other companies to publicize group giveaways. Through these giveaways, Watkins has gained customers from across the country. She appreciates out-of-state customers and notes that “the thing I most enjoy about the business is probably seeing where all the hats are going.”
At the birth of Makia Trucker Co., customers could only purchase hats via Instagram. However, the company now has its own website (https://www.makiatruckerco.com/shop-collection) where customers can easily shop online for hats. “There are so many different hat options, and you can actually build your own hat so you can choose what color hat you want, choose the patch you want, and I can get that made for you,” Watkins said with a smile. Her hats are also now sold in stores within Oklahoma City such as the children’s store Swaddle and the boutique Gretta Sloane.
Although Watkins enjoys running her business, she admits that “it can be really overwhelming sometimes.” In order to manage her workload, she sometimes seeks out her parents’ help with shipping products. Although she is not currently hiring, she will consider recruiting other students and friends for when she needs an extra hand.
As Watkins plans for the future of her company, she hopes to continue growing her business and “to build it into something that has even more inventory.” Watkins acknowledges that her hats are more suited for the summer so she plans to release new products this coming winter. Currently, she is channeling her passion for computer design into creating t-shirts and sweatsuits that customers can wear in cooler weather.
Watkins encourages other students who are interested to start their own businesses and urges them to “try and come up with unique designs and ideas because that’s what makes you stand out.” She also emphasizes the critical role social media plays in advertising a new business and believes that any product should be able to evolve over time. She advises that young entrepreneurs “take a product that is timeless [and] put trendy designs on it” just as she did. As Watkins continues to expand her business, she’ll always remember that energy flows where attention goes.