Jack Elway wears many hats as co-founder of Mint Tradition, the Denver-based company he formed with Geoff Muller in 2016. He’s in charge of business development, marketing and the creative side, while Muller handles production and custom orders.
The 29-year-old—who shares a famous last name with yes, that Elway, John, general manager of the Denver Broncos—also wears the hats literally, which is part of what led him to start a business making luxury ball caps.
Jack owns about 30 hats that he cycles in and out of rotation. His everyday go-to is basic cotton, but his ultimate favorite is the first hat he ever made, made of pure leather.
Leather is a core material for Mint Tradition. “We wanted to make something special and put our name behind it,” Elway said. “We knew it could be achieved by purveying special leathers which are sourced both locally and overseas.” Mint Tradition's signature hat is made with calfskin, which fits better the more you wear it. The business owner says that pairing a leather hat with a regular outfit can drastically change your whole look.
Mint Tradition’s range of luxury and streetwear hats go from $25 cloth flat brims to $225 custom leather versions. When asked about the brand’s style, Jack said, “Flat bills are here to stay, but we also offer curved brimmed hats.” Elway’s famous father once inquired about offering the curved brim, but Jack laughed and shared they are referred to as “Dad hats.”
Creating a brand was something Elway always wanted to do. After experiencing disappointment in college football, he graduated early with a degree in economics from Arizona State Universitys and began to re-evaluate his life. Being the son of a football icon (the senior Elway has two Super Bowl wins and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) comes with its own set of challenges, frustrations and opportunities. Jack didn’t have the same zeal for the sport his dad did, nor did he take to the family’s other main business interest, the automotive industry.
That’s when Jack put his creative knack to work and founded his company. He and Muller had been introduced through mutual acquaintances and after Elway visited Muller’s production studio and saw the hats he crafted, they quickly became friends and then business partners. When asked how he came up with the name, Jack recalled numerous days spent in the library researching and brainstorming a name for the start-up. Mint Tradition surfaced and became the moniker for his brand.
“Our logo is an upside-down crown, which means you are your own ruler,” Elway said. “We believe in empowering individuals to be comfortable in their own skin. Recently, I’ve been around a lot of death—most of it stemming from depression and mental health issues—and initially thought our hats would have inspirational quotes or messages to empower and inspire. We are still exploring ideas on how to elevate this messaging.”
When asked about his father’s take on the company, Jack admitted that at first he was nervous to tell him about his new venture. But the senior Elway has been supportive from the beginning, even offering to help get hats into players’ hands. Now Mint Tradition hats are sported by some fashion-forward Denver Broncos, including Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller.
“Attributes that make my company stand out is our quality, and that we are handcrafted, locally made and sewn,” Jack said. “Premium hats are made as soon as the order comes in, and no items are stocked. Everything is custom-made to order.”
So, what can we expect next from Mint Tradition? “We’re continually pushing the boundaries of what’s next and aiming to keep it interesting, special and unique. Up next are a lot changes, including making affordable hats without diluting the brand.”
We ended our conversation on an inspirational note, with Jack sharing his favorite life lesson quote—“You are ruler of your own universe, do what you want to do. Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and be happy.”
Mint Tradition hats are custom made to order and sold online. Details at minttradition.com
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