Pretty Things

Felt, Fur, and Straw Hat Bodies

So one of my favorite things to do is pick out materials. Felt, straw, horsehair, luxurious velvet, rhinestones and feathers: what more could a girl want from life? Of course it’s always best to pick things out in person, but when I can’t, the internet is a great place.

Two of my favorite sites are Leko http://hatsupply.com and Mannys http://shop.mannys-millinery.com . Hard as it is to struggle with texture and color choices over a fickle computer monitor, the great thing about mail-order is that it’s like Christmas when packages start showing up. Like this lovely box full of felts and straws I bought for my little experiment.

All the trimmings

But of course the best source for inspiration is right here in my own studio with my massive collection of feathers, rhinestones, and ribbons, and sundries.

The bins

More often than not, I’ll find myself designing a hat around a gorgeous ribbon or button rather than the other way around.

Sounds backwards, but I also tend to pick my outfits to match a hat I want to make. Call it single-minded.

Finally, when I just cannot find the perfect thing in any of my secret stashes, it’s off to the fabric store. Luckily for me I work in one. Also there is an inexplicably high occurrence of fabric stores per capita in the Bay Area.

Suprise find: affordable velveteen

This helps keep prices down and increases the variety of materials to purchase, such as this lovely cotton velveteen and silk/cotton voile.

Once the materials have got my blood flowing and my inspiration working, its time to set down to the dirty business of working up a hat. Never let anyone fool you: Making things yourself is *not* easier than buying it. But more on that later. It’s time for me to stop writing about hats and just go make them.

ta ta for now,



An Army of Fashionistas

Well here I am, a small-time hat maker in Oakland with a sore need for getting the word out there. After all the studying and training, investments both financial and other, hours of labor to build up an inventory I am satisfied with, and much mulling over decisions about aesthetics and price points, I find myself lacking one crucial thing: a market. If no one sees your stuff, no one will buy it, right? What’s a girl to do?

Go viral.

About a month ago, I frivolously declared that I would like to hire an army of fashionistas to roam the cities of the world while wearing my hats and promoting my business. But who has money for that? So I challenged my friends, world travelers that they are: I will send you a custom hat at cost, a complimentary disposable camera, and a stack of business cards. In exchange, you will make a concentrated effort to wear the hat as frequently as possible, network with potential clients, and hand out my cards to everyone who is interested. Oh, and document the whole thing.

The Milliner At Work

Then, with my small army of intrepid volunteers waiting, I hunkered down to build some fabulous hats and send them out into the world. I call it my Hatter’s Experiment.