Just Buck It: Spearheading the Next Generation of Bucket Hats

Jessica Argento, Baker's Dozen Editor

Undeniably, bucket hats are in style. The trend can be worn with just about any outfit, from luxe to casual day-to-day, making it a unique, but versatile fashion choice. Jacklyn Hooey and Cole Dettling are entering the bucket hat market targeting a certain gap they’ve identified, creating both a sustainable and stylish option. Through Thought Into Action (TIA), they are the founders of Just Buck It, a sustainable bucket hat company. Just Buck It embodies a care-free lifestyle, while ensuring the consumer remains environmentally conscious, producing hats from 100% recycled water bottles.

Hooey, a senior Environmental Studies concentrator minoring in Writing and Rhetoric and Geography, was inspired by her hometown, Ontario, Canada, in which the Great Lakes were a big part of her childhood. Dettling shared a similar vision. A class of 2021 Economics concentrator from Chicago, he also grew up by a great lake. They have been wearing bucket hats ever since they were children. Although their hometowns added to the general vision, the idea sparked when Hooey was inspired by another sustainable company, Fair Harbor, a Colgate TIA venture that produces clothing made from upcycled plastic bottles.

“I was working an internship this past summer for a waste to energy company called Covanta and I came across an article about Fair Harbor, and started reading about TIA and got really excited,”  Hooey said. “I was like, you know what, I want to do something. I want to try it. Why not?”

Hooey, with both her academic and professional background rooted in environmental justice, was motivated by both Fair Harbor’s sustainable practices and a generational shift in environmental values. 

“Nowadays when people want to dress trendy, they revert to Shein or Amazon, any fast fashion company … but we recognize that our generation, as a whole, seems to be very motivated and encouraged by sustainable options, so we wanted to provide a sustainable alternative for a product that it seems like everyone has,” said Hooey. 

The material of the bucket hat is made from recycled water bottles, which helps the sustainable consumer to lean into the generational zeal of protecting the environment.

“I think the fact that they’re made from recycled water bottles and that each hat is made from 7 water bottles…helps our customers realize that they have made a tangible impact to help the world. They know that, with the purchase of our hat, they’ve removed 7 plastic water bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” said Hooey. 

Hooey wants the bucket hats to be environmentally conscious as a product in addition to valuing a fair and safe environment for workers.

“We recognize that not only is fast fashion harmful to the environment, but it’s also harmful to a lot of people working in dangerous conditions. So, with our product we can essentially kill two birds with one stone: making efforts towards social justice and helping curb climate change by removing waste from our eco-systems.”

Dettling expanded on Hooey’s spectrum of sustainability, emphasizing the importance of fair trade in addition to an environmentally charged product.

“Assuring fair trade was non-negotiable for our company. We know that workers are receiving fair wages and have safe work conditions, something that sadly is not standard yet across the fast fashion industry,” he said.

The company aims to be environmentally conscious in a range of sectors. Furthermore, the design of the hat strives to be different from the norm. Dettling explains the importance of the unique configuration of their hat, which includes an adjustable strap.

“We’re also realizing the gap in the market with bucket hats is the sizing. It has always been one size fits all…I think having an adjustable strap is essential because when you’re buying it you can guarantee that it’s going to fit your head rather than buying one, trying it on to see if it fits and then you either have to return it or dispose of it.”

Evidently, comfort and sustainability are extremely important to creators Hooey and Dettling. However, their message goes beyond this with a branding of fun times and youthfulness.

“Just Buck it is a play on ‘just f it’ and I think it really embodies a fun, carefree, playful experience. But also, it’s an attitude … It’s about experiencing everything the world has to offer … We recognize that it is a fashion piece, and a perfect accessory that you can wear almost anywhere, so we have created stylish designs that helps enable individuals to express their youthfulness, their adventurous spirit and allows them to become the life of the party,” said Hooey.

Dettling further explains how the designs encapsulate a youthful energy.

“Our brand, Just Buck it, embodies that care-free, social aspect…and wearing it really gives you that sense that it’s a fun hat that you can wear everywhere. And then the added bonus is the fact that it is sustainable, you are helping the environment, and reducing plastic waste while in-style,” he said.

Dettling and Hooey evidently have a solid vision for their product, aiming to promote sustainability and fun. Although, the process in making their vision into reality has proved challenging for the enthusiastic team.

“The whole process has been way more than either of us would ever have expected when we started the company. When we joined, we were questioning, how are we ever going to have a hat in our hands? We just had this idea. But, with the help of our mentors, we’ve been able to navigate through a lot of obstacles,” Dettling said.

The pair is working with a manufacturing company from France. They must navigate through a language and cultural barrier, but they are determined to get their products from a manufacturer that shares their ethical vision. Dettling and Hooey commend their TIA mentors for helping them through the process.

“Our mentors, Julie DeLoca, Kate Foster and Alex More, all Colgate alumni and entrepreneurs themselves, have been nothing but amazing, and they’ve really helped us with this process,” Cole said.

These mentors show constant support and have a range of expertise for the team to draw on as resources. Julie DeLoca spent 20+ years in marketing and advertising and has been running her own consulting company as an outsourced chief marketing officer for the last five years. This is her fourth year as a mentor for TIA.

“I love mentoring … really enthusiastic new entrepreneurs and I love Colgate so much, it’s, like, my favorite place on the planet. So, to be able to put the two things that I love together, mentoring and Colgate, is kind of a dream job,” DeLoca said.

DeLoca commends Hooey and Dettling for taking risks in their entrepreneurial journey.

“Jacklyn and Cole have had a pretty good vision for this and they’ve got guts. You have to be prepared to take a leap. So we’re just holding their hand and guiding them a little bit and supporting them, but I think they’ve been pretty clear on what they want to do and their vision for this,” she said.

Hooey and Dettling expect their hats to be ready for sale in late April, so keep an eye out for Just Buck It via @justbuckit_ on Instagram, @shopjustbuckit on TikTok or their website, shopjustbuckit.com.