Junior sells hats to fight cancer

Many students come to TCU wanting not only to change the world, but also to find a way to earn some spare change.

Junior strategic communication major Blaine Hurtado has worked to make both happen through his snapback hats business called 300 Hats, which sells flat-billed baseball caps and donates part of its revenue and inventory to help children going through chemotherapy.

For every 300 hats the company sold, Hurtado planned to donate $300 to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas for cancer research as well as to give 30 hats to the center’s cancer patients.

Hurtado said he had grown more passionate in the cause since his grandmother passed away from cancer last February. Hurtado’s brother and co-owner Brandon Hurtado said 300 Hats was a meaningless name before they initiated the cause.

Brandon graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in public relations and said he was the marketing manager at Akiba Academy of Dallas. He said he consulted Blaine on networking and communicating effectively.

Blaine said the people he had met through online advertising forums also helped push him to build a strong presence in social media and other websites, such as Plenty of Fish, Facebook and Google.

He said he consulted others on advertising their businesses online through affiliated marketing and that he may one day open an agency.

Jacqueline Lambiase, associate professor of journalism, said the Internet provided a window for students to see the practices of new businesses. While advising Blaine after he switched to the strategic communication major from mathematics, she said she noticed the hard work he had put into his business.

Although Blaine said the work could be overwhelming, his classes at the university supplemented his business’s growth.

He started his first business, called Snapback Hats, by selling the hats through a $40,000 investment in February 2011.

He said because he wanted the company to be more cause-driven, he sold Snapback Hats and started 300 Hats in January.

Lambiase said she had seen the current college generation gravitate toward having a cause and that customers were drawn to buying products with a purpose.

Blaine said Snapback Hats was currently earning a profit of around $6,000 a month and had grown to more than 225,000 fans on Facebook from the 185,000 it had before he left the page. He said he hoped for the same success with 300 Hats.

Brandon said the company bought inventory from all over the United States and from different parts of the world. Adding custom fabrics and working with graphic designers from the University of North Texas gave the hats a unique appeal, he said.

He said the products had been trending in the hip-hop scene and that he and his brother recently made custom hats for hip-hop rappers Wiz Khalifa and Chevy Woods from Taylor Gang, who performed at the music portion of South by Southwest in Austin.

Blaine said he mostly sold hats to people ranging from 13 to 25 years old and had more luck selling to students at UNT than at TCU. He said he thought it could be because the hats’ different styles may not appeal to the mostly Greek TCU campus.

He said he hoped to expand to help more hospitals and schools in the future and that the overall vision was to “ultimately aid in the search for a cure to cancer.”

Blaine said the company’s website launched in March and would soon have a countdown to its goal of 300 hats. He said the company had reached less than 5 percent of that goal and that it planned on giving away 10 hats over the next few weeks until the company reached its goal.

Students could purchase hats at 300hats.com and could become eligible for giveaways by liking the 300 Hats Facebook page and by following @300Hats on Twitter.