|12/14/2010 1:37:00 PM|
Sisters artist creates 'Hat Cozy'
|Lynn Woodward can help you keep your hat on — and your ears cozy. photo by Jim Cornelius|
Lynn Woodward got tired of cold ears and decided to do something about it. Not one to wear a wooly hat in the winter - she likes the protection a wide brim offers - she set about designing a garment that would keep her ears toasty but didn't interfere with the fit of her hats.
Woodward is a patient and persistent woman; she began the design process in the late 1990s. She'd been thinking about it for several years prior to that, each time she set out on horseback to guide groups of riders in New Mexico and Arizona. She worked in areas where the mornings are chilly, even in the summer, and fall and winter rides were downright uncomfortable.
Her mother, Ann Kendall, is a talented seamstress who understands patterns and how to develop them to a point, but isn't a pattern maker. The pair came up with many prototypes that weren't quite right. The concept is simple but very technical to design and sew, said Woodward.
"I've learned more about industrial sewing than I ever wanted to know," she said about the process of making Hat Cozy a reality.
A close friend at Levi Strauss & Co. mentored her as she worked at figuring out the intricacies of the garment industry.
Designing headgear was not at all in her area of expertise. Woodward majored in biology in college, went on to study graphic design, art and photography and did her stint as a trail guide and riding instructor. She has entrepreneurial tendencies, evident in the design, photography and now, Hat Cozy businesses she's associated with.
In an interesting twist, Woodward teamed up with Kimry Jelen, an artist and professional horsewoman who was a pattern maker (among other things) in her previous career in the corporate fashion world. Jelen's input proved valuable in developing the final pattern for Hat Cozy.
The garment keeps the ears and back of the head and neck warm and a thin ultra-suede strap goes across the top of the head and is secured with a small plastic buckle. It doesn't alter the fit of a hat nor interfere with the way it sits on the head.
Woodward credits Sue Yokum, of Black Crater Clothing, with helping her source good suede fabrics.
In the interest of keeping a low price point, Woodward explored manufacturing and sewing the garment in China. A lack of consistency in fabric became the main issue and she abandoned that idea.
"I don't believe in making shoddy stuff," she said.
A business adviser told her to use cheaper materials, reasoning that the garments would wear out and she would get repeat customers. That didn't sit well with Woodward, and she maintains that she'll get repeats, but most likely because customers will lose their Hat Cozys. They aren't a large item and are inconspicuously colored in black or brown, plus she said that they don't tend to get returned if one loans them out.
The Hat Cozy is made of Polartec fabric, a fleece product developed in the United States. She found a sewing contractor in New Jersey when she was doing a project for Gene Baldwin, a local hat maker. The contractor is familiar with the intricacies of working with headwear and the first production run is now available.
Customers have a choice of two styles of fabric: two-layers of fleece or a fleece-lined ultra suede. The all-fleece Hat Cozy doesn't muffle sound but isn't as completely wind-proof as the ultra-suede garment.
Two size are available: small/medium and large. The Hat Cozy sells for $29.95 and is available locally at Sisters Feed & Supply or from Woodward at her office in Sisters Art Works, 204 W. Adams Ave. Other retail outlets are listed at the Web site, www.hatcozy.com.
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