I had intended to maintain the narrative here, but other projects have consumed my time and energy. So as I presented the first chapter here, I also now present the last…
London Accessory Week – July 2022. It is my litmus test. I send about a dozen hats ranging from whimsy cocktails to winter warms. I hope a broad collection will hit a few notes among the hat-wearers of British society.
Every hat I sent, is returned to me, crammed without mercy into the same box I had so carefully packed for the trans-Atlantic flight.
It’s my third show in a row with zero sales. It was one of only two shows that had even accepted my work out of the 10-12 I had applied to over the last 18 months. Many of my commissions have been do-overs. Every new hat style I try ends in utter failure. My Muse, and my interest in hatmaking, have apparently left the room.
I take another break to create a 1900s traveling suit to wear on a family history expedition to Colorado. That project would drive me in a new direction.
In August, I start rebranding my web presence from “Hats” to “Mercantile.” I narrow the selections in my custom hat catalog. I start discounting my hats at galleries and get a surge of custom orders later that month.
Over Thanksgiving I announce my retirement from hatmaking and issue a “Last Call” which results in another surge of custom orders. I sell off most of my remaining hats, and by Christmas I remove my catalog and shopping cart from my website. I stop looking for shows to apply to. I zero out my gallery inventories and stock rotation schedule. I start to jettison trade show equipment and selected materials from my studio.
And things suddenly feel so much lighter.
Walking away from hats feels a little like a change in identity. But after nearly 40 years of hatmaking and a few years of wrestling with the decision, I make the call to close that door and open the next…
The first and last chapters presented here are excerpts from my current work in progress – a book entitled “A Storied Hat: My Work in Retrospect.” Please contact me if you would like to be notified when it is published.
Thank you for supporting my work and following my journey.
I hope you will stick around for the next chapter…