Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Hat To Grow a Garden

There is often an idea in my head for years before it actually materializes.  This is as true for hat making as it is for folding laundry or sorting through piles of paper. 

Being an avid, albeit a negligent, gardener, I have been wanting, forever, to create a hat with special gardening status.  I can now proudly say that I have accomplished this one task.  The laundry and my child's artwork from the past nine years remain untouched, but the hat has finally been made.

I present to you....Gardenia.  She is made on my new (100 years old) straw braid sewing machine from raffia braid.  This raffia braid has nothing to do with the raffia braid commonly seen in factory made hats.  This stuff is substantial.  The braid is really wide and really thick.  It makes the most rustic hat that just makes one want to go out and plant tomatoes.  The band and the rose are made from hand dyed linen.  Yes, hand dying is one of the stupid things I do to ensure that I consistently hover just above the poverty line.

Here are some photos from my garden.  It looks better in the photos than in real life. I love that cropping tool.  If someone invents a garden tool to crop out the physical weeds, let me know. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Livin' The Dream in Lunenburg

 I live in a beautiful town with a beautiful family and I make hats all day in a life size doll house. Once again, I need to drone on about how lucky I am.

This past week I felt ridiculously lucky.  With the help of my new brochure people are finally finding me. I had two women from Toronto pick up my brochure in Peggy's Cove and made a detour to Lunenburg to see me.  I had a travel writer pick up my brochure in Amherst and decide to head over my way.

These two gorgeous sisters found me via the Lunenburg Art Map and the next day while visiting Peggy's Cove they were stopped by a woman from Ontario who inquired where they got their hats.  That woman then high tailed it to Lunenburg and showed up my door.

I'm pretty sure that I am sending these ladies home with unique memories.  When people are touristing, life is filled with restaurants, fun shops, museums, beaches and trails.  But my home-based shop offers something a bit different. A peek inside a home.

The first being to meet customers at the door is Lego.  Usually he brings his pillow.  Not so much to give, as to show.  Do you like my pillow?  Look, I have a pillow.
A quick glance around my studio makes it very clear that this is where the hats are made and a quick glance through the open door into my messy dining room makes it clear that this is also my house.

I try to always be generous with my time and travel advice, but the generosity goes both ways.  Every time a customer leaves my shop I find they have also shared a bit of their lives with me.

This coming week will be our ninth anniversary in Lunenburg.  I can so remember the insanity of that first year.  I was trying to be a mom to a four year old while simultaneously trying to keep 30 stores stocked with my hats.  I was a nervous wreck.

I moved to Lunenburg thinking that my business could thrive despite being in Nova Scotia, but it didn't take me long to discover that my business was thriving because I live in Nova Scotia.  It's just so fun for people to wander the streets of a historic town and then discover an artisan working from home with an open door.

These days my life is so much calmer.  Aside from that four year old now being a thirteen year old,  being able to welcome people into my shop has allowed me to give up a lot of the wholesale part of my business.
Between my little shop, the farmers market, online sales and a few great wholesale accounts, I get to live the dream and there is time in the day left over for swimming, walking, biking, and gardening.
 What a life!  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

All this and I didn't leave the house

O.K.  fine, I do leave the house once a week to go to the Farmers' Market and I also walk my dog, but my life revolves around my home and that's the way I love it.  I know it's not a life for everyone, but being by myself in my little studio with the occasional visitor is my definition of heaven on earth. I often have to pause and  consider how incredibly lucky I am to be able to make a living in the way that I do.
My weekly Thursday  trip to the Lunenburg Farmers Market is my social day.  It's my time for chatting, shopping and hat selling and it is a highlight of my week, but when I get home I am toast and am always thankful for six more days of not leaving the house. 

This is Julia.  She was visiting from South Africa and circled my booth a number of times before finally allowing herself to be sucked in.  She was having a great time trying on hats and I wasn't about to pass up on the opportunity to photograph such a beauty.

Pam was helping Cheryl Corkum sell her beautiful paintings at the market this week and was all dressed up for Canada Day with one of my hats.

Cheryl's paintings are  at the market every week.

When the market was over, Pam came over and said, "Did you sell my hat?'  "Nope."  I told her,  "It's waiting for you."  And off they walked into the sunset.  I would ordinarily have a hard time parting with this kind of hat so soon after finishing it, but Pam is Hat Junkie family.  One of the many women that have kept me eating through the years.  It couldn't have gone to a better head.

Terri was visiting from the Annapolis Valley and off she went with this Suitcase Sarah.  I really couldn't ask for better advertising than all these beauties.

Did I mention my new hat boxes?  For years I have been dreaming of carrying good quality hat boxes, the kind that will actually protect a hat.  They are made by a small company in the states.  The quality has exceeded my expectations.

I had another one of my regular Hat Junkies come visit me at the market yesterday.  She needed a hat for her son's wedding.  I had two days before she needed to hop on a plane back to Manitoba. This is what I refer to as a hat emergency.  If humanly possible I am always happy to help. I received my marching orders (Do whatever you want) and got to work.  This is what I came up with.

When Louise came on Friday evening to pick up her hat we both knew it was all wrong.  Louise grew out her dyed hair and now instead of a brown bobbed cut she had a silver short cut.  The earth tones were not working anymore.  We spent about an hour rummaging through my ribbon stash and she put these two colours together.

I love when this happens.  Pink and silver is not a combination I would have thought of, but now I will.  I spent the evening on the day bed redoing the hat.  She came back the next day and we were both delighted.

And, of course, she needed a hat box to protect her new hat.

In case you were wondering what I did with the other flowers, they ended up on this wheat straw boater.  I named the hat, Marilla, for my favourite character in Anne of Green Gables.
I know  that last week I waxed eloquent about how I don't make hats for the races, but then I got to thinking...If Anne Shirley and Marilla went to the Kentucky Derby what would they wear?  This is what Marilla would have made for herself and this ...

would be Anne's hat.

The details are mostly in the back.  Now I am officially out of wheat straw, but fear not, there is a whole new batch on its way to my local post office.  Imagine that!  I can order all my supplies without ever leaving my house.

If you also love to work from home and you live in Nova Scotia then please consider joining Homegrown Works, Nova Scotia's home-based business association.  I started this association less than a year ago and we are seeking new members.  You can check out my latest Homegrown Works blog post HERE.  See you next week.