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Creating The Pony Scrub Hat

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It took a wife and a husband to create blue sky scrubs, but count two more relatives as founders, too—a mother and a grandmother.

“They taught me how to sew,” says Dr. Shelby Marquardt, an Austin anesthesiologist of her mom, Karen Vaughn, and grandmother, Amy Falcone. With Shelby’s fashion sense and sewing skills, coupled with the business abilities of her husband, David, health care workers now look great head to toe.

They wear tailored scrubs Shelby designs and cover their hair in her smartly styled Pony and Pixie Hats—all rendered in bright colors and prints from paisleys to daisies to herringbone and plaid. Employees in other professions who must cover their hair also don the headwear. So do actors on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“We were watching the show one night and I thought it would be neat if they wore my hats,” Shelby recalls. She sent several to Hollywood, then tuned in to the season’s finale.“And there they were!” she says of her creations. “They just popped up.”

Creating the Pony Hat

The company’s name did not. A few years ago, during her residency in Houston, Shelby grew tired of wearing those shapeless nets with which medical workers must cover their hair. One night at her sewing machine, with a piece of light, lime-green cotton cloth in a floral print, she created a cap that fit snugly on the head, featured a small pouch like a chignon or “que” in back for her hair, and was tightened with a pretty ribbon.

“I came up with this concept as a place for women’s hair that’s kind of feminine and cute,” Shelby says. “I showed it to David and he loved it.’

When she wore it in the operating room, co-workers greeted her with “That’s a cute hat! Where did you get it?”

Calling it the Pony Hat, Shelby began making them and charging $24 for each ($15 for friends). She later added the pouch-less Pixie Hat, for short hair.

“At that time we had no expenses, no web site, no employees. I was sewing them all myself. My pager was going crazy all the time,” she recalls.

Shelby and David, who owns The Steam Team, an Austin cleaning service, decided to double their work and enter the fashion field. First, however, they needed a name. Weeks went by. Then, driving between Houston and Austin one day, Shelby looked up.

“There was the prettiest blue sky I had ever seen,” she recounts. “I called David and said, ‘How about blue sky?’ He said, ‘Done!’”