Bezos’ space trip tips hat to Aspen
Little bit of Aspen makes its way onboard via longtime Kemo Sabe customer
Aspen may sit at 7,908 feet above sea level, but Tuesday the town’s reach made it to more than 351,000 feet above Earth.
When Jeff Bezos stepped out of the New Shepard capsule after its return from space, besides sporting a big grin the billionaire was donning his favorite cowboy hat bought years ago from the Kemo Sabe store in downtown Aspen.
The hat, Kemo Sabe president Wendy Kunkle said Tuesday afternoon, is at least a decade old but is Bezos’ favorite in his collection and was made in Basalt at their hat barn, which has since moved to Texas.
“That’s all-American right there — walking out of a spaceship with a cowboy hat on. Are you kidding me?” Kunkle said.
Bezos’ red boots, which have been pictured next to his blue jumpsuit in pre-launch photo shoots, are about the same age as the hat and came from the Aspen location, she added.
Bezos owns a home in the Aspen area and is a longtime customer and friend of Kemo Sabe founder Tom Yoder, who opened the store in 1990 in Snowmass Village before moving to Aspen three years later. On New Year’s Eve in 2018, Bezos and his brother, who also was on Tuesday’s flight, rode their horses into the downtown location on Galena Street.
Kunkle said they knew the hat, which is a Kemo Sabe brand housemade hat called “Grit,” was going into space. Everyone from the store watched the launch at home Tuesday morning then “hustled into work,” she said.
“We are so, so, so, so proud to be a part of it,” Kunkle said. “It’s super amazing.”
As part of the longtime project, Bezos ordered a number of hats from Kemo Sabe for the crew and friends.
“Best day ever,” Bezos said upon touchdown at the Van Horn, Texas, facility where Blue Origin employees, some wearing Kemo Sabe hats as well, and others were cheering.
Tuesday’s flight lasted 10 minutes and 10 seconds and hit more than 2,200 mph. The capsule cleared the Karman Line and went up more than 66 miles (351,210 feet) before starting to fall back to Earth.
Bezos’ Aspen wear was in good company on the flight. According to the Associated Press, other items in the capsule included a pair of aviator Amelia Earhart’s goggles and a piece of fabric from the original Wright Flyer, which flew in 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Kunkle said she received a number of text messages Tuesday about the hat and many customers in the store were quick to mention the launch. But don’t expect a Blue Origin line to show up on the Kemo Sabe shelves any time soon.
“No, we would never would do that,” she said with a laugh. “That’s his thing, not our thing. … We’re just proud to be a part of it. We didn’t do anything, but luckily we have a good relationship with him. That’s all.”
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Brett Tenza is very much a “people person,” and a people pleaser, too. As DJ Tenza, he spins music just about every week in the winter in Snowmass Base Village, and is always looking for “common ground” and ways to connect with disco-dancing ice skaters who hit the rink on Saturdays to his tunes.