From the November 2019 Issue
Jody Brooks grew up showing horses with her dad and sisters.
“My first horse show class was called “Tots to Ride” at our local saddle club,” she said. “I’ve come a long way from that little class to having two AQHA Reserve World Champions!”
An active member of the western industry, Jody met her husband, JW Brooks, at the National Finals Rodeo in 2005.
“I was there promoting a rodeo company I was working for at the time and he had been hired to sing with his band outside the Thomas & Mack arena during the NFR every night,” she said. “He’s an amazing singer! JW made the Top 15 on CMT’s Nashville Star (CMT’s version of American Idol) the year prior!”
The pair were married in 2007.
“We laugh about it now, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas!”
JW Brooks has another talent - hatmaker.
“My husband has been making hats since he was out of high school. He started in Durango, Colorado. He then moved to Phoenix, Arizona and made hats there and helped open up two hat departments in a couple of the big western stores there,” she said. “He and his family have always been involved in rodeo. In fact, his brother, Wayne Brooks, has been announcing for NFR for the last several years and has won PRCA Announcer of the Year nine times!”
Jody and JW create a colorful blend between the two of them due to their different backgrounds.
“When we first married, his clientele was mostly rodeo folks but because I come from a horse show background, I was able to open up our scope of business a little more.”
Jody jokes about doing everything but actually making the hats.
“I leave that to the expert, JW! Being a business owner, on any given day I may be building hat boxes and sweeping the shop to invoicing and answering emails and then working a photo shoot that evening,” she said. “I really enjoy collaborating with JW on the designing end of our business.”
JW Brooks Custom Hats are suited for all walks of life - from movie stars to country western singers and rodeo athletes.
“Come one, come all! Our customers know and want quality. We don’t just sell someone a hat and send them out the door,” she said. “We want to get to know our customers - what events do they do, what is their horse’s’ name, and so on. That’s important to us because each person has their own story and we want to know it! When we stamp our customer’s name in their hat, we know there is a story attached with it and it keeps it personal for us.”
One of their annual events is Cowboy Christmas at the NFR, which has turned into a “family reunion” of sorts for JW and Jody.
“We have enjoyed this particular show more than any other. We meet the best people! In fact, some of the customers we’ve gained during Cowboy Christmas have become great friends,” she said. “It’s become more like a family reunion for us because we get to see our customers and friends that we only get to see once a year during NFR.”
JW Brooks Custom Hats has been attending the NFR since 2007.
“We sell about 50% traditional cowboy hats and 50% with side styling designs,” she said. “We’ve noticed that more and more cowboys and cowgirls are buying a higher quality hat than ever before, such as our 100X’s, minks and chinchillas.”
JW and Jody provide only the highest quality hats, each one handmade by JW himself.
“We start at 50X and go all the way up to a chinchilla and mink. For the custom designed hats, we're really going with more classy and traditional patterns for the side styling. And, of course, we can work with a customer who wants to design their own hat with perhaps their brand, initials, logo, [and so on].”
They will also be debuting a hat (or hats) that nobody will expect.
“It will be a hat that people will be talking about during NFR 2019! Expect artful and amazing,” she said. “It will only be revealed at our booth this year!”
When they’re not working the booth, you can expect to find the stylish pair at a foot spa, taking in foods of Las Vegas, or enjoying the NFR performances.
“Not only do we enjoy the rodeo and get to see some of our endorsers wearing our hats, but we get to listen to Wayne on the nights he announces,” she said. “It’s a super cool experience for us!”