According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the business operated by Christl Mahfouz has raked in some $21 million in revenue since 2015 from entities associated with Donald Trump. The reason: Her company Ace Specialties is the supplier of all of those red “Make America Great Again” hats that dot the heads of supporters at Trump rallies, and the rest of the official Trump presidential and campaign merchandise.
Mahfouz launched Ace Specialties in 2007 as an apparel company. It’s based in Lafayette, Louisiana, and prior to 2015, Mahfouz said, making uniforms for oil and gas companies was her bread and butter. But those industries had been in decline in recent years, which ultimately trickled down to Ace Specialties’ bottom line. Her company was struggling financially.
“I just woke up one day and I was like, I don’t know how I’m gonna pay my bills. And I literally prayed every day, asking for direction, asking for you know, give me a sign, please tell me what I’m supposed to do,” Mahfouz said in an interview with Business Insider. That sign came in the form of T-shirts and hats that she noticed people wearing when Donald Trump infamously announced his presidential bid in the lobby of the Manhattan skyscraper bearing his name. She saw an opportunity.
“When President Trump announced he was running, as he was coming down the escalator, I saw a few people wearing T-shirts or holding T-shirts, and I said, ‘That’s it!'” she recalled.
She also happened to have a connection to Trump through his son Eric. Mahfouz said she traveled to New York City to make her pitch to the Trump team and ultimately was awarded the contract. Within a week of that meeting, she had an operation up and running for the campaign. This summer the one-millionth red hat shipped.
Not surprisingly, Mahfouz, in addition to being a shrewd businesswoman, is a major Trump supporter. Her company’s website has even co-opted some of Trump’s campaign language. And in the video below, while giving Business Insider a tour of the Ace Specialties facilities, she cheerfully holds up one of the top-selling T-shirts her company distributes, which is emblazoned with the words “build the wall,” and declares it is “an American favorite.”
She said that the red hat has been the biggest seller by far since 2015, but sales surged again recently when Kanye West posted a photo on Twitter of himself wearing one. “When Kanye tweeted out his photo with the MAGA hat,” she said, “we started to see lots of orders come in, lots of support from new supporters, everyone wanting a MAGA hat.”
While most Americans will balk at the idea that Trump is actually making America great again, there’s no doubt his rise has made her company’s bottom line great again. Watch the full interview with Mahfouz below.