Last February I was walking around the lake with my then 5 month Sadie when the weather went from sunny to crazy wind to Rainy to SNOWING all in the same day all in a course of 5 miles. I spent most of the time, when she wasn't under her clear plastic cover, trying to keep her had covering her ears. That's when I thought of this great hat. One that would have a bill to shade the sun, cover the ears and a strap under the chin to keep the hat on (not slipping over the eyes) and a velcro closure in case the hat gets yanked, the strap would open to avoid choking. I wanted it to be organic cotton and reversible, so the design process began. I started my months of fabric research and pattern development. We worked on patterns while Sadie played, she was a great sport to have all these crazy hats stuck on her head! I only had a few minutes here and there to work on the patterns, so as time went on her head kept getting bigger.
I did a lot of research while feeding Sadie, when we used to have a lot of couch time, designing the logo, label, hangtag, website etc. Finally, around 6 months later, I was ready to send my accumulated fabrics, samples, patterns to the factory in South Seattle. I am still amazed that they took my order, I had 3 hat styles in around 12 different fabrics, double sided. The order was confusing to say the least and only 300 pieces. Working with the factory turned out to be a nightmare. After two months of calling and getting the run around, I started just showing up there and bugging them to finish my order. The workers refused to make my hats because they were time consuming with the binding and all the different fabric combos, so the owner's sister ended up doing my whole order. She was great, but they did keep telling me to come by the next day and I would and the order wouldn't be finished. I made a lot of trips south, it's was crazy. I did manage to get a 1/4 of my order picked up and took photos for the website, but noticed that the hats were coming out really big and the straps were too long! I picked up the rest of my order, which ended up being 100 pieces too short, but thank goodness because of the sizing problem it would have just been a waste of fabric! I am now going through each hat and fixing the sizing problem and making the balance myself. There is something to be said for using factories, but unless you have a 500 piece order of one style in one size, they really aren't going to give you the time of day.
I am making everything myself for the time being and maybe by next year will have a machinist to help with production. I only have two hours a night after Sadie goes to bed to sew, it's pretty crazy :P I am nuts for this line and am feeling like it's a labor of love right now, but I'm going to keep working at it. I will be putting it into Frock Shop in the next couple weeks when I get the display items in, so that will be lots of fun.
The website is done and so cute, you can check it out at www.hootorganic.com
Along with Hoot I'm also making some super fun baby dresses (and hats) out of vintage fabrics under my own Suzy Fairchild label. They will be available in January in Frock Shop and on both websites. Because the fabrics I'm using are vintage the number I can make is very limited.