The Value of Price

October 10, 2009 - Leave a Response

In a conversation with a friend last night, I was told that the price point of my hats made it so she was unable to afford one, though she dearly wanted to own many of them.  She went on to commend me on how great it was that I valued myself enough to charge the prices I do. The truth is that my pricing is a mathematical formula that takes into account what is necessary to create the product (cost of labor, cost of materials) and the cost of bringing this product to you.  Beyond this, the product produced is valuable to our community on multiple points.

Amidst a market inundated with stylish and functional hats that cost between $15 and $65, it might seem like a statement of self worth for a hatter or milliner to charge $150, $250 or $850 for a hat. Though I have developed more self worth to feel it is appropriate to charge prices that are much higher than the mainstream, this is simply what it costs to create this style of hand blocked, high quality straw and fur felt hats.

A product’s price whether it is a new hat or a television, must include some amount to contribute to what is necessary to keep a business running, including items like water, electricity, telecommunications, marketing efforts, repairs and of course, rent.   When you buy something the price reflects not only what is costs to have it made but also must contribute funds to what it costs to operate on a day-to-day basis, while also allowing a small amount to let the business grow, whether that means paying off the inevitable debts incurred getting started or putting money towards purchasing new equipment.

The value of the handcrafting is layered.  We artisans use better materials and take more time to produce our functional objects than those businesses whose production is geared towards a mass market where volume and high profit margins reign.  This country’s economy sways precariously on the stilts of less costly foreign labor. Our landfills compound in size with the waste of cheaply made items that fall apart after a few months.  If loved and cared for by its owner, a well made hat will last through your lifetime and perhaps beyond, becoming representative of your personality and identity to those in your family who might not ever know you.

Like other artisans, my work is an expression of my joy.  Holding a high regard for quality and aesthetics, we artisans aim to put more beauty and distinction into your lives. We see it as our role to share a unique vision of how to create a usable object, so that your senses become refreshed when you encounter our handiwork.  And at the same time the price is simply what it takes for us to be present and continue to bring you something just different enough to make you feel your individuality through your affinities.


Hatmaker Showcase in San Francisco Represents the Change of Guard

August 17, 2009 - Leave a Response


The bay area has long been a place for expressive offbeat fashion, distinct from the temperament of LA and New York.  Despite lacking a pivotal presence in the industry, the bay area produces a strong indie designer scene emanating from the artistic personalities that thrive in our metropolis.  Within this milieu lies a smaller group of apparel makers, milliners and hatters.  With the cool fog and bright sun, the bay area climate allows optimal conditions for one of the most functional accessories, one that has been used across time and culture for protection from the elements and denotation of status, cultural affiliation and sexuality.  It is the ability for hats to make a statement of personality that makes them all the more attractive to the original thinkers found aplenty in this area rich in counter culture and the arts.

Within the past few years, urban centers have been witnessing the resurgence in popularity of fashionable hats, propelled by the multifaceted group of Hatmakers who profess their passion for hats in growing numbers.  One notable characteristic of this trend is the amount of young people coming into the trade while simultaneously more established hat companies either go out of business or sell to larger retailers.  We are witnessing a changing of the guard. 

This is evident locally in the growth of Goorin Brothers, who recently opened two new hat shops in downtown San Francisco and on Haight Street, adding to their location in North Beach.  Goorin Brothers has been operating since 1895, but it wasn’t until the thirty-something Ben Goorin took over operations that the production of affordable stylish hats became a defining feature of the company. 

Paul’s Hatworks on Geary, San Francisco’s 90-year-old custom men’s hat shop, one of the few on the West Coast and the only one in the Bay Area, was slated by owner and master hatter, Michael Harris to go out of business last year, along with all its vintage character, equipment and processes.  This loss was prevented by four women in their twenties involved in art and culture productions and possessing a passion for hats.  They had a collective vision, purchased the shop, apprenticed with Harris and will reopen Paul’s retailing tradition at the end of this month. The Grand Opening will be on August 29th 10am to 10pm, (6128 Geary Blvd @ 26th).

Apart from those with storefront presence, other local young hatmakers are making a splash among those who love creative expression through wearing hats and enjoy supporting the local market.  You can find their well-crafted original hats at indie shopping events and at retailers featuring local art and design.  The first local hatmaker showcase, Show Me A Hat Show, Sugar,  featuring fantastic creations by Jasmin Zorlu, Paul’s Hatworks, O’Lover Hats, Katie Burley and Cica Mica Millinery will turn heads and hearts this Friday August 21st 7pm to 10pm at the Box Factory (865 Florida St @ 21st).  Admission is $3.  Enjoy drinks and deejays while you come out to tip your hat to this fine-feathered group and take first pick of the newest trends in hats.


For more information contact

The Boater

June 4, 2009 - Leave a Response

IMG_2556Boaters, also known as Sailors, are as dashing today as they were when first worn in the 18th century by British sailors.  They are sporty straw hats, usually with narrow crown and flat top and rigid round brim.  Though its dimensions and trimmings have varied with style trends, the Boater possesses an unmistakable appearance of fun and relaxation that is cemented in our subconscious due to its rages of popularity through time.


The Boater’s fun-loving attitude was first expressed in the 1880s by women who made them the hat of the decade due to their sporting image.  This was a time when women became active participants in sports such as bicycling.  They wore their light colored straws with a strip of dark trim above puffed sleeved white blouses, dark neckties and dark full skirts.


The Italian Gondoliers also adopted the Boater in the 1880s. The Gondoliers trimmed the crisp angles of straw braid with a long doppio natro, the natro usually in navy and red (stripe). This sleeker lined style, with a wider and shallower crown, adjusted the sporting theme of boating to also connote outdoor leisure activities, as a boat ride through Venice elegantly typifies.


Like spaghetti, the Boater came to America by way of immigrants.  So great and prolonged was its public appeal that it was given the name “the hat of the people”. Its influence spanned social spheres.  It was a favorite for vaudeville entertainers and their fans. During pre-war times, the Boater was thought to be worn by some FBI agents as a sort of unofficial designation. The hat’s popularity with Classic Hollywood and the American image can be seen in its namesake comedy, “The Italian Straw Hat” (1927).  For decades on, Hollywood stars like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire further popularized the Boater with American audiences, wearing these dapper hats while wowing audiences with their wit and dance.


The Boater’s image undoubtedly maintains strongest associations with gaiety, boats and outdoor leisure.  Its attitude is seen clearly in the lighthearted 1950’s when its popularity was so widespread that it was worn by all.


Wear your inner Boater this summer.  Or transform yourself from the inside out with one of the new mini-boaters at

Who makes hats?

February 23, 2009 - Leave a Response


Chris Chun blocked this awesome hat for herself in the February Workshop

Chris Chun blocked this awesome hat for herself in the February Workshop

When I tell someone that I am a milliner, they often cock their head and say “What?”  Or if I tell someone I make hats, they say, “Oh, what’s that called, haberdashery?”  There are distinct differences between hatting, millinery, and haberdashery.

Today the term hatter specifically refers to one who makes hats for men.  A milliner is someone who makes hats for women.  In France the term for milliner today is modiste but originally these crafty designers were chapelliers. 

Early milliners have left few records of their business activities but we know they existed in England since the beginning of the 1700s.  The name milliner came from the traveling haberdashers from Milan, Italy.  They sold all aspects of dress and the English called them millaners.  Soon, all who were making stylish hats were called millaners since the materials for use were imported from Milan.

The term haberdasher refers to one who makes men’s clothing and accessories and is a very old term and of uncertain origin.  It was in use as early as the 14th century and in the middle ages haberdashery included daggers, swords, Milan caps, glasses, spoons, knives, and much more. The original haberdasher was probably a peddler or a badger rather than a hatter.  This blog delves into extensive detail on the origins of the term haberdasher

Do you want to learn to make a hat?  Find out more about hat making workshops.

The Fillmore on a Full Moon

January 19, 2009 - Leave a Response

It was a Saturday night, the full moon shining, as bright as it ever would in this lifetime so they said.  We were spontaneously cruising the Fillmore district in San Francisco, looking to see what was going on.  People I know come here for music.  Known as the jazz district, this San Francisco neighborhood is a hub for performing musicians which inevitably makes it a great neighborhood in which to don a hat.

Musicians wear hats.  I’m not sure exactly where it started, but I think its partly due to the historic conversation that musicians have with the great masters that came before them, from a time when everyone wore hats; partly the hat’s voice of attitude and confidence; and it’s sure to keep those bright stage lights out of your eyes.  I bet a hat helps musicians stay focused and keep with the beat.

Long before the music arrived, The Fillmore was a thriving business and cultural center beginning after the 1906 earthquake when the more severely damaged downtown was being rebuilt.  A Japanese community settled in, but this shifted in the 1940’s when the internment camps emptied out the Japanese whose homes attracted African Americans relocating to the area for war jobs. A number of music clubs catering to the community opened in the 1950’s.  Places like Jimbo’s Bop City, New Orleans Swing Club, The Booker T Washington Hotel and The Fillmore opened and drew in lightning acts such as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Thelonius Monk.  It became known as the Harlem of the West.

African Americans continue to represent a demographic majority, but the character that once made it a thriving Black community also targeted the neighborhood by city officials as a center of urban slum.  Beginning in the 1960’s a redevelopment project began bulldozing the Filmore down, block by block.  This unsuccessful redevelopment project was followed by urban gentrification.  Now Fillmore Street features an extension of Pacific Heights style boutiques and restaurants.  But the music lives on at The Fillmore, The Boom Boom Room, Yoshi’s and Sheba Piano Lounge.

We sauntered into The Jazz Heritage Center, drawn in by the large becoming photos of musicians shining under track lights.  Once in the the door I sidelined to the glass case of fedoras and pork pies, also gleaming under the lights.  This feature was for another local business, Mrs. Dewson’s Hats, who is a local institution just up the street and known for her wide variety of both men’s and women’s hats and outfitting luminaries who visit the area including the former Mayor Willie Brown with his fedoras.  She happened to walk in while we were there, and took one look at me and said, “That’s a beautiful hat your wearing”.  I was tickled to have my craftwork recognized by a woman who has been in the business for thirty years.  She was happy to share her business is up 35% this year.  We all agreed hats are big right now, exchanged business cards and then left the bright center for the night beyond.

Down the street we were lured by the swingin’ blues music wafting out of the BooM BooM RooM, that famous club John Lee Hooker opened in 1997 on the corner of Fillmore and Geary.  The doorman told us Bohemian Knuckleboogie was playing.  We went in and danced to what they toot on their website as “good music for hard times”.  I tapped, snapped, shook and shimmied to the end of their set, after which I reached behind the curtain and thanked keyboardist Jeff Orchard for making our night and signed their mailing list to make sure I could catch them again.  You can find them playing regularly around the Filmore and you’re sure to fit in wearing a hat at one of their shows.

On an Indie Mission

December 2, 2008 - Leave a Response

There are definitely less people out at shows right now.  This economy is not stagnant though. It’s good to see that people are still coming out and shopping regardless of the doom and gloom from the press.  It is important, now more than ever, to do our part to support local businesses operating with sustainable practices.

I continue to strategize towards the production of new products.  I will have holiday gift items at the two shows I have over the weekend of Dec 5th – Dec 7th, including hair scarves, berets and custom hat gift cards.  I am running a special, 20% off of blocked fur felt hats from my current inventory, as well as custom orders until Christmas.  What an awesome opportunity for you.  I hope to see you out this weekend.


feather crownIndie Village

Friday Dec 5th

5pm to 11pm

481 9th St, Old Oakland

$5 to benefit Arts and Literacy in Children’s Education (ALICE)


Mission Bazaar

Sat Dec 6th 10am to 6pm

Sun Dec 7th 11am to 6pm

The Armory Community Center, 14th and Mission


Feasting on Fashion

November 14, 2008 - Leave a Response

This Sunday I’m cooking up delicious food, pouring wine and tea and hosting everyone who wants to share smiles and the hopes for our new president-elect at my home in Oakland for a party.  Try on some scrumptious hats and receive 20% off on any purchases.

O’Lover Hats Open Studio and Harvest Party

Sunday November 16th

2 pm to 6 pm

2558 Scenic Avenue

Oakland, CA 94602

Originally this was going to be a website launch party, but we haven’t settled a design yet, so the process is not done.  The content is ready and I really want it finished for you guys.  Sooner than later, I promise.


A couple other events coming up in the next couple weeks:


End-of-show party

Seccession Art & Design

Friday Nov 21st 6:30pm to 9:30pm

3361 Mission Street

San Francisco CA 94110


Celebration of Craftswomen

The largest Women’s Fine Crafts Show in the US

Saturday and Sunday Nov 29th and 30th

Booth 610

Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavillion

helenasmilesSan Francisco

GenArt Selects O’Lover Hats as a Fresh Face in Fashion

October 27, 2008 - Leave a Response


Fresh Faces in Fashion returns to San Francisco for the 5th year in a row. For the last 13 years, Gen Art’s anchor event, Fresh Faces in Fashion, has shown some of the best emerging fashion designers in womenswear, menswear and accessories on the runway and given runway debuts to fashion’s rising stars.

O’Lover Hats will have some hats on the runway with the fashions of OdileOdette and will show the Fall 08 and Spring 09 line at the after party with 3 other featured accessories designers.  I am thrilled to be a part of this event. Come out and celebrate with us.

Thursday, October 30th
7:00 – 8:00pm: VIP Reception
8:00pm: Doors open to general admission ticket holders
8:30pm: Runway Show in Grand Ballroom
9:15pm – Midnight: After Party

The Regency Center
1300 Van Ness @ Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA


For ticket reservation please visit

Independent in October

October 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

I always feel especially good in the fall.  It’s the time of year to harvest, to celebrate the bounty from all that was planted and tended to in the spring and summer.  I’ve been eating a lot of tomatoes from my back yard, and I haven’t given them nearly as much time as I have to developing my creative work into a business.  I love the fall collection, and will be showcasing it at three places this month. Each show I do often feels like a culmination of my life to date.  But especially in this month that I was born in, I settle into celebrating the abundance that is manifest.  Thank you for being a part of that.  I hope to celebrate with you at one of O’Lover Hats upcoming shows.

Saturday Oct 4
111 Minna

This show features an array of local fashion designers, artists, filmmakers and djs.  Produced by the ever energetic Irene Hernandez, it is a hip, happenin event that brings a heavy dose of the bay area’s creative talent.  I always have a good time, which is why I do this show frequently.  That and Irene generously never charges designers for table space, which no one else does.  It is fun and the people look good.  Come out and flirt.


The Bay Area Guide To Independent Fashion Festival
Saturday Oct 11th
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission

This is the first event of what appears to be a new series.  I don’t know exactly what to expect, but the lineup of designers is strong and if you are at all interested in the local fashion landscape, it seems obvious that you should come. You can visit for a lineup of the day’s events and to purchase tickets. Also the weekly wrote a nice small article.  To read visit


Secession Art and Design Fall Show
Oct 14th – Nov 29th
Opening Reception
Friday Oct 17th (my birthday)
3361 Mission

Secession is a cute design gallery run by a cool chick named Eden Stein.  She loves hats and always includes nice ones in her shows, so come check out her space in the mission.  You can visit with me at the opening reception.  I’ll be wearing my birthday hat (not the suit).

California Roadtrip

September 11, 2008 - 2 Responses

The last few weeks I’ve been making straw hats again.  I have a show in Napa on Saturday the 13th and a show in Benicia on Saturday the 20th. Both shows are daytime events, 10am to 5:30pm and 10am to 4:00 respectively.  They are juried for variety and quality.  

I love both these towns and they are completely different.  Napa is full of good art, good food and of course the wine flows from city faucets (for a small fee, you can drink).  It is typically hot and sunny, and you can smell the dirt if you get off the main drags.  The event on the 13th is 32nd Annual Napa Wine and Crafts Faire.  Come visit my booth on Second St and Coombs.  

Benicia is on the Carquinez Straight and seemed to be in the process of regenerating their downtown when I visited a few weeks ago.  There is a good breeze that slices through the straight and gives the air a freshness I don’t have access to at my Oakland studio.  They have a waterfront, a beach and a series of back alleys off of Main Street that draw your eye to the historic relevance this town has held as one of our state capitols. Captain Blythers is a restaurant and bar shanty at the end of Main St, right on the river.  The watering hole is up on the second floor with a great view, the perfect place to wet your lips after touring the works in the 35th Annual Benicia Fine Arts & Craft Fair.  

Hope to see you there.