It’s during life’s biggest challenges that we often find out what we’re truly made of. For Nick Lewis, part of the answer was American Merino wool.

Nick created the wool NOLIN Beanie after a health scare with his son, Nolan. Along the way, he decided the hat should be about more than just keeping heads warm.

With every NOLIN Beanie purchase, the company donates a cotton newborn beanie to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) families in need.

The NOLIN Beanie features a classic, traditional design that offers a no itch, no frills, just a great heavy-gauge hat worthy of its name and capable of lasting a lifetime.

Nick told us more about starting the company in the following question-and-answer session:

 

Q: What made you decide to start NOLIN?

A: NOLIN was a concept I had years ago and ended up shelving as ‘real life’ got in the way.  Of course, it was the challenges we had with our youngest boy Nolan which became the catalyst for launching.

 

Q: Why beanies? Why wool?

A: Ha, it’s a pretty simple explanation actually.  I’ve always enjoyed a well-made, warm hat. The challenge I’ve always had is finding them. As I spoke to other people about the concept of NOLIN, I found that I wasn’t alone. It was like, “When was the last time you found a really well-made, classic wool beanie?” I was amazed how many other people were looking for the same thing and couldn’t find it.

I toyed around with the idea of Alpaca and some other natural fibers but it was never a question of whether the hats would be natural fiber. I could not have accomplished the look, feel, and quite honestly, the performance I was looking for with a synthetic material. I landed on wool because of availability, cost, quality and the fact that the wool industry is a little further along in terms of certifications and eco-consciousness.

 

Q: Committing to an All-American sourced product isn’t as easy as it used to be, what made you decide to keep the brand All-American?

A: You know, in the beginning I wasn’t dead-set on having everything domestically sourced. I knew that I wanted it at the manufacturing level, but that was it. A big reason I decided to go deeper was frankly all the push-back I received basically telling me it wasn’t possible. That, and I had a hard time reconciling a ‘Made in the USA’ product tag knowing the wool was Italian, Argentinian, Australian or whatever. It just felt disingenuous. In the end, I’m so pleased we stuck to our guns and got it done. I truly believe we are in the early stages of an American textile revival, and that all starts with supporting our ranchers and mills. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people along the way who I am so happy to support.

An important by-product of all this is I can tell you every detail of what goes into each of our hats. From the owners of the ranch where the wool comes from, the mill where the wool is spun, to the dye house where the wool is organically dyed and the knitting factory where the hats are made. We have relationships at all these levels.

 

Q: What do you want consumers to know most about your company?

A: Our mission is to make the best hats on the planet and help as many NICU families as possible.  I want people to know that I know our hats are not the cheapest and people may ask, “Why would I pay $45 for a hat?” My answer is, you can be proud to wear the NOLIN name. We source our wool from some of the world’s foremost pioneers in humane animal treatment and ecologically sound ranching practices, we dye our hats at the only GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified dye house in the United States and the wool we use is exceptional – less than 1 percent of all wool sourced in the United States meets the quality requirements for our hats. These are hats made to last a lifetime.

Then, of course, the cherry on top is that each hat we sell helps a NICU family in need. We put the same care into those baby hats that we do our adult hats – they are made from undyed organic American cotton and made in North Carolina, so they are as clean as it gets and we are super proud of that. Hopefully $45 doesn’t sound too bad after all that.

Learn more and shop at: nolin.co