There are times in life when our gifts are presented to us. If we pay attention and stay aligned, there is no turning back. For Luke Song his path led him to creating unforgettable hats. His entrepreneurial journey started as a young boy when he helped his mother with the family business. “I grew up working on the weekends at the boutique. It was then that I learned the ins and outs of the business,” he said. Song didn’t have an interest in being an entrepreneur until a turning point in his life. He was initially studying biochemistry and during his last semester changed his major to fine arts.
Focusing on painting and sculpture led him to Paris. Exploring the artistic side of life, finances led him back home to Michigan. It was the return to his roots where he found his calling. “I came back in 1996 and started making hats. People loved what I created so I continued,” he says. His mom allowed him to sell his hats in the store and by 1997 his hats were creating a lot of buzz. With much encouragement from clients and his eclectic hats, Song was nationwide by 1999.
His gallery and store, Mr. Song Millinery, located in Southfield, is a popular stop for hat enthusiasts and Song is happy to serve the city. Stumbling upon the hat business, Song is grateful that he was led to his calling. “It is very exciting to create hats, it is more exciting than anything I’ve ever done,” he says. He also loves his customers who he considers his extended family. “The core of my customers and my number one supporters are church-goers,” he says. Appreciating that his “customers take the biggest risks in fashion and are dressed to the best from head to toe,” Song knows that he has to keep his hat designs both highly creative and cutting edge. When it comes to designing hats Song’s inspiration comes from a limitless vision. “I don’t limit myself. I get inspiration from anywhere. I don’t necessarily like shopping, but I walk into stores to get ideas,” he says. From everywhere to Ikea to a hardware store, Song can find his next design just about anywhere. “There are times where I can see certain materials formed into a hat,” he says. The average eye wouldn’t see where his creative genius lies. His hats are made with untraditional materials such as window screens and chicken wire.
Due to his creativity and working outside of trends, Song has created a following within Michigan and nationwide. His business supplies hats for the Derby fans, gospel artists, Sony Pictures, and one of his designs appears on Damon Wayans’ book, “Red Hats.” His hats have also appeared in films such as “Grown Ups” and “Sparkle” among many others. We can never forget the historical inaugural hat that was worn by Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Having a quick turnaround of two days to make the headpiece, Song created three hats for Franklin, so she would have an option. He was being diligent and giving quality customer service to a loyal client to make her happy, Song didn’t expect the type of attention that the hat would receive. He is very humbled by his success and has much gratitude for Detroit.
“The city has made me who I am. I’ve been here for 26 years and it has been a long journey. Although we’ve moved to Southfield, we are here to stay,” he says.
As a business owner who has sustained for decades, Song understands the art of steady progress.
“We’ve carefully expanded. The economy is on its way back and I would like to open a southern branch of Mr. Song, in the Dallas or Houston area,” he says.
Song is happy about his chosen path, as he reflects back to his journey and decision regarding his next steps. In any decision he makes, his formula is simple and he encourages others to do the same.
“Follow your heart,” he advises.
There have been many decisions where his heart has led him to a successful outcome.
“I encourage everyone to do what you love. I work 18 hours a day and I love it. Enjoying what I do leads to more potential. I know people feel my passion and energy that I put in the business.”
Luke Song is very grateful for his opportunities and he embraces them fully.
“God gives us all talent and if we don’t use it, it is like committing a sin,” he said. MC