Olivia Cox discovered her love for art in middle school. By the time she reached high school, she knew art was her most profound passion. Olivia went to France for five weeks to study under two unique artists trained in various styles when she was a high school senior. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016. Since then, Olivia has worked in offices and minimum wage jobs that left her unfulfilled. The positions did not align with her vision or her success as an artist — until the Pandemic hit. Oliva lost her minimum wage job. Then she started her own business, Badger House Company. Olivia hand paints original wool hats and releases them in small batches on Instagram.
Badger House Co. launched on Dec. 10, 2020, and it amazed Olivia at how successful her first drop was on Instagram. “I owned a business with my Mom about a year ago that we sadly had to stop working due to some health issues. I always looked specifically at Antisocial Social Club as a model on how I’d like to run our business,” says Olivia. “Because of the nature of my product, being so visually enticing, I don’t have to put a lot of work into grabbing the attention of potential customers. Instagram has been the perfect place for me to showcase my work.” Olivia makes just a few of each hat design and usually sells out the same day she drops the items on social media.
Indeed. The Badger House Company hats are beautiful works of art and visually compelling. Each hat is a custom design, 100% wool, painted with vibrantly colored, flexible acrylic, and made for fabrics designed for shoes. Olivia relies on website sales but relies on social media (Facebook and Instagram) for all her advertising. Olivia produces five designs on multiple hats per drop she always makes multiple of each design. Once they’re all ready to go, she posts them to her website at the same time. She posts about her work as she goes generates hype and the hats usually sell out within the first couple of days.
Inspiration comes to Oliva through the mundane or the passing of things rarely noticed. Some hats are directly related to a story; some are not. She has always aimed to highlight the minor details of life, “to make the commonplace a little less common.” She draws imagery from nature, small leaves, water flowing over a rock, the way the sun illuminates a piece of hair. Olivia draws on these things then lets them tell their own stories. “Sometimes it’s, ‘I really want to incorporate those colors’, or ‘I love the type of lines that tree is making.’ You might also see some resemblance of art nouveau or art deco in my work. If ever I feel like I don’t know what to do, I can look at a book of Alphonse Mucha or Nouveau lettering and easily have 20 more ideas on things I’d like to do.”
The stories often come after the design, she says. “On my hat, “Hat Country” (which is named off of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) was designed based on this beautiful photo I took when I was a teenager camping in the Sand Dunes,” she recalls. “There were bright orange sand dunes and a medium blue sky, but right over the sand dunes with a giant, pure white moon. It was probably the best photo I’d ever taken. I took the photo with a film camera, which had malfunctioned. The back of the camera popped open, exposing the film. I never got to see the
photo.” But the image stayed in her mind. Oliva captured her remembrance in a painting, on a hat, and now the universe can experience that moment with her in the dunes.
Since Badger House Co. is so new, Olivia has no measure of success — perhaps just the joy that she is pursuing her passion and gets paid more than minimum wage using her natural talents. Like many artists, Olivia fluctuates with these ideals, “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this and it’s working. I’ve finally found what I want to do with my life,” and ‘What am I thinking? This will never work. I’m far too presumptuous to think people would like my stuff.’ It’s a real roller coaster. My friends are getting whiplash from my mood swings.”
“I’m ultimately proud of where I’ve gotten in such a short span of time, and I hope to continue to grow and one day create a place for other artists to follow their passion.”
Olivia had lost what she had, and she relied on the only thing that remained her true gift of art. Oliva ordered her first set of hats with no intention in mind, in December of 2020. She is on her third drop. Olivia says, “Ordering those hats was the biggest commitment I made at the time. Now it’s something I do regularly without a second thought.”
Her advice to someone else wrestling with sharing their art with the world is, “Just try it. Just try. That’s all. Just a small step. Just test it out,” Olivia says.