This is what Pay it Freely means- Behind the Scenes

This is what Pay it Freely means- Behind the Scenes

I really needed some stories. 

It was last Fall, 2019, and we were deep into figuring out how to get Stele rolling as a company. 

Our main idea, is we want each hat you get from us to have a story and meaning behind it. Something you can literally hang on your head and broadcast to the world the things you stand for. The movements you support. The ideas and motivations that have shaped who you are today. 

But where to start? We didn't exactly have millions to collaborate with a huge celebrity or athlete. We also knew the story had to resonate with our culture and ethos. 

Then one evening, I came across an "on the road" segment on CBS with Steve Hartman. It was about a guy who has dedicated himself to helping others to the point that he DONATED HIS KIDNEY TO A COMPLETE STRANGER. '

I was blown away and so intrigued. His name is Jon Potter. I reached out to Jon to see if we could share more of his story and collaborate on a hat about that feeling that drives him. 

Today we announce his story and the Pay it Freely hat. This hat is for those of us who support Jon and his mission to serve with no expectations. We want others to know that serving others just to be there to support is the kind of world we want to live in. 

We celebrate Jon and his story for being a guiding light like so many others that help to remind us to just make the world a little better each day. 

You can find the Pay it Freely hat at

Check out Jon's video below:



Co-founder and lead designer, Julie Rasmussen, really pulled out all the stops on this first stele branded story hat. 

We knew we wanted the hat to attach to Jon's story but after initially reaching out to him, we weren't really sure of a direction to go. She knew he was called Pittsburgh Good Deeds, but we hadn't met Jon yet in person or learned more about his story. 

So this is where we started.


After flying out to Pittsburgh, spending a day and a half with Jon, filming and learning more about his story, it was his anecdotal story he shared during lunch that really struck a chord with us. 

As we were chatting, he talked about how although he appreciates the idea behind "pay it forward", it has always bothered him that there is a requirement or price attached to the service.

As he thought about it, he said, "you know what I really like the idea of pay it freely. Just serving to serve with no expectations or requirements. 

We left lunch and knew we had the idea behind a great hat with a lot of meaning. 

Julie got to work and went through a lot of design iterations. Here are a few examples. 

Once the design came together, we played around with a few different colorways to see which clicked best for us. Ultimately being a startup, we wanted to be able to do multiple colorways, but that will have to come down the road as funds for increased inventory are made available. 


So, we made a few adjustments and here is our pay it freely, 1.0

As a new company that has been planning and preparing, we hoped our release of this hat would be when we actually had the inventory in hand. But due to coronavirus delays, a March release became an April release, became a May release, to now a June release. 

They are in production and we have a delivery date, so after some back and forth we decided to release now with pre-order allowing anyone who orders a 25% discount during the pre-order period. 

To all of you who have supported us thus far, thank you! We truly hope each and every one of you finds a hat (or a few) that speaks to your soul. That help you express more of who you are and causes you support. 

At Stele, we want you to Be Seen. Own Your Story. and Join the Neighborhood.