Jan. 3, 2017 10:51 AM

A New Iberia hat maker comes home.

Photo by Robin May

Colby Hebert is an old soul. Tucked into the streets of New Iberia you can find this 25-year-old doing something perhaps no one else in the state of Louisiana is doing — making hats by hand.

Photo by Robin May

“It’s a personal and intimate experience that transcends time and society’s norm,” Hebert says, explaining what he set out to accomplish in his shop. “Everybody deep down inside … that’s what life is about is this kind of experience and this way of living. People come in and see the candelabra and the antique records, and it’s like they are stepping back to a different period of time,” he continues. “And it’s a special feel and a special experience.”

He opened shop in July after working in film via acting and costuming. His love of style and love of hats led him down a long path to discovering exactly how one makes a hat by hand. He has since crafted around 100 pieces for individuals and now has a line of hats at Partners’ Ltd. on Kaliste Saloom Road in Lafayette as well. His work runs the gamut from cowboy to fedora, and he uses rabbit and beaver or mink most often. His rabbit pieces start at $300 and beaver hats at $600. He also strives to infuse his Cajun roots into all that is Colby Hebert Chapeaux.

“There’s a different spirit here not only from the rest of the country and the rest of the South but the rest of the state,” he says. “I sew by hand and use the same tools they used in the 1800s — handmade on the bayou. I’m diehard Cajun blood through and through, and it’s incorporated into everything. How to put our culture into this … cypress wood and Spanish moss and aging and distressing so the hats have character of their own,” he adds. “It may look like you ran through sugar cane fields all night.”

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