Nick Fouquet always envisioned himself as a conservationist, spending his time enveloped by foliage and putting his degree in environmental science and sustainable development to good use. But with a father who was a model, it’s no surprise that he developed a “passion for fashion” at a young age. That passion led him, rather surprisingly, to becoming a hatmaker rather than collecting samples in the forest.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

It was a good thing for Pharrell Williams and Madonna that he did. Both entertainers have become fans of the California-based brand, sporting his chapeaus at the Grammy Awards and elsewhere.

Fouquet said he always appreciated hats but found the styles and construction limited to heritage pieces from Stetson, Borsalino and others. “I always thought hats were the pinnacle of elegance, but they hadn’t changed in 150 years,” he said.

So Fouquet launched his own brand about five years ago to make his mark, adding embellishments, distressing and different shapes. His avocation “became an obsession became a full-time business.”

Today his hats, which retail for $500-plus for straw and more than $1,000 for beaver felt, are carried in Colette, Barneys New York and other leading retailers. He also has a thriving custom business since “hats are really personal and they need to cater to whomever is wearing them.”

While he has dabbled in apparel and footwear, Fouquet doesn’t want to take his eye off the ball too much. “I just want to be the king of hats. I have so much to say.”