I love meeting passionate people. People who have found that one thing that makes them tick. People who have dedicated their lives to pursuing a dream and living it out to the fullest. Thomas Blankenship is one of those people. A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Blankenship for an interview for an article for TulsaPeople magazine.
Blankenship’s story is one of the American dream. Born and raised in the heart of the mid-west (southeast Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma), Blankenship packed up his bags after a semester of college to pursue his dream of working in the illustrious entertainment industry.
His parents wondered if he had lost it. After all, he knew no one on the west coast. He was in his early 20s, had no experience in the entertainment world and had no money, but he went anyway. He ended up living out of his car for months and eventually moving in with six other guys in a two bedroom apartment (and that was a step up!)
After some time, Blankenship started to make progress and booking acting jobs. His career was off to a great start. In his free time, Blankenship’s love for the arts and story telling filtered into a creative outlet. His garage became his studio, where he would redo old pieces of furniture and create art from scraps of metal he’d find on the streets.
He started making hats as just another side art project. After some encouragement from one of his roommates, Blankenship headed down to Melrose and showed his hats to the acclaimed designer, Lisa Kline. She loved the hats and started selling them in her boutiques. Fast forward to present day and Blankenship’s spare time hat making hobby has formed into an internationally selling hat brand, Rustix.
Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
“As far as I know we only get one shot at this thing, so why not take it?” Thomas Blankenship
What stood out about Blankenship was his humility and his drive. After heading to the Hollywood hills and not finding exactly what he had hoped in the acting world, he turned his passion to create things into something else. He used the skills he had, creating art and story telling, to create a unique hat line of distinguished, worn-in hats. What he didn’t know, he taught himself (i.e. how to sow and how to start a business).
Blankenship’s innovation and gumption are admirable. When one path didn’t work out, he kept going and used his passion to create something else. Most of all, what I love is his eagerness and willingness to step outside the box and do something different. Not everyone has the courage to leave home to pursue a dream. He did. Twenty somethings everywhere should take a note from him! His story encourages me to not let fears or what other people think stop me from pursuing my dreams. After all, we only get one shot at this thing called life, and I am going to take it!
To learn more about Blankenship and the Rustix hat brand, head over to rustix.com!