Gigi Gaskins is the owner of Hatwrks in Nashville, Tennessee. She sparked outrage by selling Nazi-like Jewish Star of David patches that say “not vaccinated.” The 60-year-old anti-vaxxer has defended her actions on Instagram after the photo of her wearing the yellow star patch went viral. Several brands have cut ties with Gaskins and her store was closed on May 29, 2021, amid protests outside.
Gaskins’ Instagram page is filled with misinformation about vaccines and debunked anti-vax, far-right and pro-Trump conspiracy theories. She wrote in the bio section of the page, “custom & worldwide brands. one of the largest selections in the world…. we also speak out against tyranny!!” She has posted multiple times amid the controversy over the Star of David patch but turned off comments.
“People are so outraged by my post? but are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? if you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me,” Gaskins wrote on her business’s Instagram page. “I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence & compliance. that is the worse crime. it was then & is now. i will delete your disgust and hope you put it where it belongs.
She added in a follow-up post, “In NO WAY did i intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people. that is not who i am & what i stand for. my intent was not to exploit or make a profit. my hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that i can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. i sincerely apologize for any insensitivity.”
The original viral Instagram photo showing Gaskins proudly wearing the Star of David was posted and deleted on May 27. In the caption she wrote, “patches are here!! They turned out great. $5 (each). Strong adhesive back. ….. We’ll be offering trucker hats soon.” Gaskins said on Instagram she never sold any of the patches and took the post down after two or three hours when it started generating controversy.
Here’s what you need to know about Hatwrks owner Gigi Gaskins:
1. Gaskins Says She Is the ‘Target of a Mob’ & Says She Has Been ‘Pushing Back on the Government Overreach’ & ‘Standing Up to Group Think’ for 15 Months
In another Instagram post, Gaskins wrote, “for the last 15mos i have been pushing back on the government overreach, standing up to group think, trying to find reason in a sea of irrational. it has 100% been fighting the totalitarian march & power grab we are seeing play out across the globe. there are millions who awake to this, in that i am not alone. the power grab is coming in many forms on many fronts. i was willing to put my business on the line to stand up for the freedoms that we still have in our country. what i didn’t expect is being accused of the very things i was fighting against.”
Gaskins added, ‘i am also not alone in being a target of the mob. was the use of the yellow star an insensitivity? obviously so to many, but does that make me an anti-semite nazi? NO, NO IT DOESN’T. have i done unspeakable, unforgivable harm to others? NO, I HAVE NOT> but in the past 15mos, there has been plenty of unforgivable harm.” Gaskins wrote:
we have watched this play out for over a year…from the protests, the burnings, lootings, taking cities hostage, desecrating monuments, desmantling our police, watching people get murdered in the name of justice.
when does it become so acceptable & fashionable to just spew hate on others? if one is sincere in fighting hate, the hate that has come my way, even before now, is beyond comprehension. i have NEVER done that to another human being in my life. yet, people will read this and hate all the more.
i don’t know what is going to happen to me — or this world. but they will be looking for the next target….everytime demands are met, it just emboldens.
Gaskins could not be reached for comment by Heavy. Gaskins has drawn several comparisons between vaccines, mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions and the Nazis since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
In January 2020, she posted a photo of Jewish people being put onto a train car in Nazi Germany and wrote in the caption, “Is this where it ends? because dozens of people on here said this is what i deserve. where does this end? because it’s not ending on the 20th …..”
2. Gaskins Has Lost Partnerships With Stetson Hats & Several Other Brands
Gaskins’ business has been impacted by the backlash. The John B. Stetson hat company wrote on Twitter, “We are aware of the situation in Nashville. We take this matter seriously and are investigating in order to take the necessary and appropriate next steps. Along with our distribution partners, Stetson condemns antisemitism and discrimination of any kind. … As a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS in Nashville, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products. We thank you for your continued support and patience.”
Other brands followed suit. Tula Hats wrote on Facebook, “I am aware of the situation with our former vendor Hatwrks in Nashville and appreciate those who messaged. Tula does not condone antisemitism or discrimination of any kind. We have asked to be removed from their website as a supplier.”
Kangol Headwear said on Instagram, “We feel strongly that we were right to give Gigi Gaskins at hatWRKS Nashville the chance to change. We did that. However, her further posts indicate to us that she is not sincere in her apology, nor has she removed offensive posts from her feed. We are permanently terminating hatWRKS Nashville as a customer of our brand effective immediately.”
Kangol added, “Our company has a core value of respect. While we respect freedom of speech, respect for humanity must hold a higher place. The use of the Star of David by our customer as a statement against vaccination was not just insensitive, but disrespectful and wrong. We encouraged our customer to issue a sincere apology for her mistake and have suspended her account in the meantime.”
3. Gaskins, Says She Began Posting Political Views in March 2020 as the COVID-19 Pandemic Began, Is a Trump Supporter Believes the Presidential Election Was Stolen
Before the COVID-19 pandemic and the final months of the 2020 presidential election, Gaskins did not post anything about politics or conspiracy theories on the Hatwrks Instagram and Facebook pages. Instead, her social media pages were filed with photos of hats and other products sold in her store and posts about music and happenings in Nashville. But the tone of her pages took a drastic turn when the first coronavirus restrictions were put in place in March 2020.
On March 17, 2020, Gaskins wrote on Instagram, “hatWRKS is OPEN….All 5 of us are here, not sick, not fearful & on the payroll. Don’t even buy a cowboy hat if you aren’t gonna act like one.”
On March 20, 2020, she wrote, “i consider hatWRKS my home. that is why it runs like it does…it’s not a prim & proper business, but an extension of who i am. i like to think it’s real and not just about $$$….it works for some & not others. but up until this week we have grown & are successful enough to provide livelihoods for 5+ people. i am quite proud of that. now that livelihood is being stolen…..and this has nothing to do with the flu/virus…or rep/dem… or two week’s loss of income. as of today….powers are officially bringing the American economy to a grinding halt. nothing like this has ever happened in the history of this country.” She added:
this will not last a week….they are already planning for it to go on a month. two? three? by that time the damage & power grab will be irreversible. it’s probably already toast. i feel totally powerless…all i can do is offer a voice of opposition, not that i think it will do any good. but it makes me feel better & i can’t turn my head if i wanted to. the only way this could have happened was if people had stood up and said NO….sadly it’s not going to happen. sadly, people are ever so willing to let it happen. military force doesn’t seem to be necessary, but forces are positioning nonetheless. … it doesn’t get anymore personal this this, it’s 100% putting my money where my mouth is. let the chips fall where they may, i call it like i see it. spare me your hate mail…..i will just delete it. unbelievably sad times.
Gaskins also began posting about her support for Trump. She wrote in April 2021 about her political views, “people think i am some rabid trump supporter… they could not be more wrong. i try to weigh options & make educated decisions. none of us know what is really playing out … i believed our best hope was that trump was truly trying to uphold the constitution & protect our sovereignty. maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. maybe he was controlled opposition. i’d hate to think so…. but there should be NO DOUBT in anyones’s mind where we are now headed. it’s a dystopian nightmare… americans will not do well. others countries have been thru thousands of yrs of hardships… americans, they’ll fall off by the millions.”
In April 2020, Gaskins began attending protests against COVID-19 restrictions at the Tennessee capitol. She wrote on April 20, “no, I’m not going to post photos of ahts right now. the world is upside down & I’m not going to act like it is business as usual.”
By the summer of 2020, she began posting about her support for Trump. “new hatWRKS shirts !! my cousin erika … we’re just a family of deplorables these days! $25. will be on website tomorrow,” she posted in July.
She also expressed her anger with Black Lives Matter protests, writing, “i’m pretty much over it ….. i have no idea what has happened to our country, our way of life, our businesses – and i have no idea how this is allowed to continue. there does NOT get to be just one voice in this country regardless what people think watching the msm. hatWRKS DOES NOT SUPPORT ANTIFA …. & hatWRKS DOES NOT SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER. these organizers will tell you in their own words they are trained marxists & want to take this country down. hatWRKS IS NOT FOR DEFUNDING THE POLICE even though our council seem to overwhelmingly support that.”
She added, “don’t even go there thinking you can call me a racists because that does NOT play….. i have lived for over 35 years with black neighbors not more than 10ft from me on either side. i have hired and worked along side many black folks …. wonderful black hat wearing men were my first customers when i opened. so you can’t go there. IF YOU ARE FOR THE VIOLENCE THAT IS HAPPENING ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTRY…. don’t bother coming in our store. we don’t want your business….. and i try not to support businesses that are bowing down to the mob. we will continue to speak out.”
In August, she added a Trump 2020 sign to the front of her store and wrote on Instagram, “new signage up today!! go get ’em cowboy!! we’ve got nothing to lose. if the globalists win it’s all over anyway. even if trump wins, the battle will continue, they aren’t going away …… but i do believe he is our only hope. stand up for what you believe in, be prepared to fight !! there has been no other time in our lives. that i believe……”
In other posts she talked about “cancel culture.” She wrote on September 1, 2020:
how is it that hundreds of corporations, organizations & sports teams in the country can speak out for what they support. but people that support trump are not allowed without a public execution. see i think that is a clear sign that all is not well in the world !! ….. and THAT is why i choose to speak out. the HATE is outstanding ….. from a political movement that is suppose to be for the complete opposite of how they act. some folks need to look hard in the mirror! but i am not going to convince anyone of anything. i just want to exercise my american freedom of choice… while we still have it. if i did not think it was in jeopardy i would not bother ….. i can tell you this is no fun. for those practicing the cancelling of opposing opinions, your time will come when you are on the other side.
She also paid for a pro-Trump billboard in Nashville.
After Trump lost the presidential election, Gaskins began posting conspiracy theories and false information claiming it had been stolen from him. She attended a “Stop the Steal” rally in Nashville on November 7, 2020, her Instagram shows.
She attended the pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021, that proceeded the riot and invasion of the Capitol building by Trump supporters. She posted a photo of the crowd, but there is no evidence she went into the Capitol. She wrote on Instagram, “welcome to communist america. they keep taking this photo down. … yes i took this picture and was proud to stand there!”
She also made several anti-vaccine posts and said she would not take it.
4. Gaskins Opened Hatwrks in 2011 After Previously Owning a Glass & Gift Shop
Gaskins opened Hatwrks in 2011 after previously owning a glass and gift shop in Hendersonville, Tennessee, according to a 2015 profile of her in The Tennessean. Her business was originally located at 10th Avenue and later moved to its current location at 1027 Eighth Avenue South.
She told the newspaper, “In Nashville, I see people who’ve been buying hats forever, longer than I’ve been alive. I see a lot of younger folks wearing hats, too. They take it on as an expression of who they are. We see a lot of people from all over the world who, when they travel, seek out hat shops. Of course, Nashville is a boom town anyway. We’re seeing people from New Zealand, Australia, Norway, England, Switzerland. There is a hat culture that I’m just tapping into.”
Nashville Arts Magazine wrote in 2011 about how Gaskins had brought a hat shop back to the Tennessee city after a previous hatter closed in 1999.
“Ten years later, the hat, and its magic, are back, now at the deft hands and keen eye of Gigi Gaskins, milliner/hatter and owner of hatWRKS,” the magazine wrote. “Gaskins is a designer who participated in numerous creative ventures, seeking her true art and niche. She has owned a clothing boutique, a home furnishing store, a stained glass shop, and an urban farm.”
5. Gaskins Rewceived Nearly $100,000 in PPP Loans During the Coronavirus Pandemnic
According to federalpay.org, Gaskins and Hatwrks LLC received two PPP loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first loan, issued in April 2020 by Wilson Bank & Trust, was for $36,000, according to the database. The second loan, issued in April 2021, was for $56,892, and was also issued by Wilson Bank & Trust.