Sometimes people come in to my hat studio, stand there and just say: “Wow!”  They’re curious about where I get my inspiration from and how I go about creating a hat collection.

Finding inspiration for a single hat is slightly different from creating a full on hat collection. A single hat is usually a quick shot.  Kind of like: get inspiration…make hat…sell hat! When I’m working on a hat collection, it’s all about working backwards.  When does it need to be launched?  When will it be photographed? How much time will it take to sew?  What’s the theme?  And so on, and so on.  These questions provide a framework rather than a rigid structure.  I don’t wholesale my hats, so I have more flexibility when it comes to the timeline.  That’s a good thing since I’m balancing the needs and wants of my family, business, community, pets and anything else that comes my way.  Sound familiar?

Once I have a general idea of when I need to start on the hat collection, I like to create a private board on Pinterest. This allows me to search the internet for inspirational images and organize them in one location.  Many times, I’ll supplement my electronic mood board with a physical poster board that I hang on the wall of my hat studio. I walk by this wall multiple times a day, so it helps keep the upcoming collection top-of-mind.  I’ve noticed that it also allows inspiration to percolate in the back of my mind.  Like a good stew, a hat collection needs time for the flavors to blend and emerge.  Often, I’ll head down to NYC and visit fabric stores, boutiques, museums or other places of interest for the theme that I’ve selected.  During this exploratory phase, there’s a sense of discovery that’s wonderful and fun.

From there, I’ll sketch some hat silhouettes and detail possible fabric choices.  I like to use large index cards for the sketches so I can lay them out on the table, see everything together as a collection. Are they coherent?  Do they work together?  Sometimes, pieces are moved to an “ideas” folder.  This simply means that I love the idea but it’s not right for the collection.  I also start thinking about hat blocks.  Do I have the right blocks to make the hat collection.  If not, do I need to order hat blocks?  How will this affect the timeline?  Once I start, there are lots of questions to answer.

Only at this point, do I start making hats.  I love using the index cards because I can take notes.  How much time does it take to make the hat? Are any changes needed? It’s almost a log where I record the details for each hat.  As the hats are assembled, I put them in hat boxes for safe keeping.  Only when all the hats are made, do I take them out and take a last look to confirm that they work together as a collection.

So there you have it.  My process for creating a hat collection.  Everyone has different ways of creating so it’s really about discovering what works for you. If you’re a designer, share this post along with your creative process. Even if you’re not a designer, go ahead and share.  Sending love your way…