Bridget talks to us about all the many styles of unique hats she creates and sells in her booth at Oregon Country Fair. Find out the quirky way that she and her partner got started as mad hatters!
Fancy Shop of Important Things
Transcription by Jade Rainsong
(Karen:) So hi we’re here at the Oregon Country Fair and we just wandered into this incredible booth in the Xavanadu area and they have incredible hats and this is called the Fancy Shop of Important Things and the hats are… they look incredibly handmade, colorful, all kinds of different kinds of hats. We have ones with short brims and long brims and let’s hear from the owner of the shop. Can you tell me a little bit about the hats and other things you have in your shop here?
(Bridget:) Well, all of our hats are hand made from scratch and one-of-a-kind, they come with a lifetime guarantee. So we fix them for free if they ever need any upkeep because our clienteles tend to have a good time in them. We can custom fit them to your head. We make all kinds of hats. Me and my business partner Evan. He shapes the hat itself on wooden blocks and I do all the upholstery, the fabric, the dressing, sewn on by hand. They’re all completely unique from each other and waiting for the right owners.
(Karen:) Awesome. Can you give me a little audio tour here of kind of some of the hats like describe some of these beautiful creations and what it took to make them.
(Bridget:) Well, our top-of-the-line hats are called Wellingtons. They’re the traditional Mad Hatter big top hats that are wider on the top than they are on the bottom. These are a little more complicated to make, we have to use a puzzle piece block that disassembles as you take it off to preserve the shape. And then once that blank hat is given to me, I take these different fabrics and stretch and pull and sew them down into place. So we have Wellington’s like I said, we have stovepipes, riding hats, floppy brim hats. A type that we invented called the top hat on lean, where it’s like a little crooked to one side, fedoras, trilbies, flat cap sprays all kinds of hats.
(Karen:) So, how did you get started making hats? Is this a new thing for you or did it evolve out of something else?
(Bridget:) We’ve been making hats for about nine years. It sort of started on a whim. We went to see the Alice in Wonderland movie that came out around that time and there was a hat making montage in it. We left the theater saying we should learn how to make hats, and we did, we taught ourselves how to do it and kind of it was supposed to be a funny little thing we did. We named it the fancy shop of important things. We had a lot of fun with it and then it blossomed into this beautiful business. We got better over the years at making the hats.
(Karen:) And there’s no mercury in these hats, not very actually mad, right?
(Bridget:) Yes mercury no longer gets used in hat making. It was traditionally used in the felt making process to make the hairs of the furs stand up straighter so they could get a cleaner shave and get more hair off the pelt. They do not do that anymore. Many hatters went mad and died.
(Karen:) So do you have a favorite hat here?
(Bridget:) Well, every time we have completely different hats, so, this particular time I like this one we call the Athenian wedding hat.
(Karen:) Well, let’s take a look at the Athenian wedding hat. Oh my, wow.
(Bridget:) It is Wellington and Mad Hatter style. It’s blue and purple and cream and golds and it’s got these beautiful kind of Mediterranean designs all over it, and we made a black and gold version as a custom order for somebody’s wedding for the groom to wear and we called it the Egyptian top hat because he had kind of an Egyptian theme of his wedding.
So this is the Athenian top. It’s beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous Mediterranean motifs and hand done appliques all over it. And it’s probably our most intricate hat here. Not and a gold brim. That’s gorgeous.
(Karen:) Yeah, so tell me about getting into Country Fair. Did you say this was your first year?
(Bridget:)This is our first year, our first time applying, we’ve been vending our hats for nine years, but we had always had heard how difficult it was to get into fair. So I never even tried. I was intimidated by it, but finally I thought. Why not? Let’s try it. Let’s see what happens. Maybe it’ll work and it did and we scored pretty high and we were able to choose our booth and yeah, we’re really happy to be here, really excited to get to know everybody and introduce them to our unique style.
(Karen:) So you got blessed by a little bit of fair magic.
(Bridget:) Yeah, definitely and we’re so excited.
(Karen:) I know it’s only Friday, but are you doing well so far?
(Bridget:) We are, yeah, already we’ve been selling hats and you know, they go fast because there’s only one of each of them. So if somebody sees one they like, they get it.
(Karen:) And was there anything else that you wanted to let people know about what you do before we close?
(Bridget:) Well, I hope everybody has a great time out there and remember be unique, dress how you feel on the inside, let your imagination out and we’re here to help you do that.
(Karen:) Yay. I love it. Thank you so much Bridget.