If the crown fits, wear it
Jalen Harvey had been carrying an idea in his mind for years.
In April he placed it on top of his head.
The entrepreneur launched Crowns this week, a line of baseball caps that carry a gombey motif on the front and a crown on the back.
Mr Harvey said the prototypes were met with confusion.
“When I first put the pictures up a lot of friends that had never been to Bermuda didn’t know what the symbol was,” he said.
He didn’t let that deter him. He said symbolism carries strength for a culture. He wants Bermuda’s to be equally recognisable.
“I actually saw it as an opportunity. Hawaii has the hula dancer and Mexicans have the Aztecs, for example. We have the gombey.
“If my company becomes successful internationally, we have a story behind it. Stories engage people and once they hear the story, they might say they want a hat or they might even say they want to go to Bermuda,” he said. “If I can make my company successful it can only help Bermuda. I love my island to death.”
He said he hopes to join forces with the Bermuda Tourism Authority to make the Gombey our “national symbol”.
“I want Bermuda to take credit for any success that the company has,” he said.
The 22-year-old, who played football with the Bermuda national team, graduated from Chicago’s De Paul university with a degree in business administration.
He moved to Miami six weeks ago to become an account manager at Bacardi Ltd.
“I’ve played on the national team since 2012. It’s been a big part of my life, so moving and putting it on the back seat was a big decision. [But] it’s a great opportunity working for such a big company,” he said.
He said he has always carried an entrepreneurial spirit and Crowns was a good way to “get [his] feet wet”.
“I have a bit of capital to start something small but in the future I want to do so much. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish,” he said. Crowns stuck both for its literal interpretation — “it’s something you put on your head” — and its “symbolic” one.
He hopes it will become a household name.
“I want the company to be so successful that one day people are actually referring to their hat as their crown.
“It’s a Bermudian company, [so] I want there to be a symbol of Bermuda on the front. The gombey is the most unique symbol that we have.”
His friend, tattoo artist Gianni Smith, designed it for him.
“I really wanted to do it right,” he said. “I didn’t want to go the way of printing these pre-made hats and putting a logo on it. I found a manufacturer by doing my research [and] looked at the work they had done before. I wanted to be sure that my product was going to be good quality.
“You can only make a first impression once.”
He went for a classic silhouette, the “dad hat”. It comes in five colours — white, black, sky blue, pink and khaki.
“They’re the traditional baseball hat you’d see a father wearing.
“In the last two years, those have become more popular. It hits such a wide variety of people. The flat brim hat might only resonate with one demographic, but the dad hats can resonate with a lot more,” said the former Saltus Grammar School student.
Having someone request their logo on one of his hats is the “milestone” he’s aiming for.
“I definitely want to grow the business so Crowns will be a sub-label within the company,” he said.
“I’m entrepreneurial at heart. I’d much rather spend my money investing in something. I want to make something that’s going to make something big.”
• Pre-order for $35 at email@example.com. Instagram: crownsbda