December 2006

HATalks, the e-magazine for those who make hats; www.how2hats.com

People at work in the world of hats. This month: "Archie Burkel & Hat Ladies"

Archie (Barbara) Burkel grew up loving hats.  She had no idea that this would make a major difference in her life, until she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, (USA) in 2001.  With her husband on her arm, she strolled its historic streets wearing her hats.  As she did so, people started complimenting her and expressing their own love of hats.  She began taking their names.  When she had a few on her list, she invited them to join her on a Tour of Homes, sponsored by Historic Charleston Foundation.  Thus four strangers came together and an organisation was HATched which has evidently changed lots of other lives....

The Hat Ladies

At first, the hat loving ladies gathered for lunch and camaraderie.  However, Archie had the vision to realise that hat wearing has greater implications than one might realise at first glance.  Her reasoning is impeccable...

Ladies wearing hats prefer to be in the company of other hat wearers...

When we look good (and hat wearers do), we feel good and are inclined towards doing good, so community service is a natural outcome...

A love of hats crosses all boundaries, ethnic, cultural, religious, age and is a perfect ice breaker.  Greater confidence and communication are bound to be the result...

Archie actively encourages ladies to don their hats and join other Hat Ladies n purposeful and beneficial activities in their locality. 'Chapters of The Hat Ladies now exist in eight locations across the USA, with yet other groups affiliated to them.

The Hat Ladies proposition:

Become a member of a stylish brigade of ladies who are Making a Difference!

Enjoy the best of camaraderie and community service!

Meet ladies of all ages and backgrounds!

Form bonds between the generations!

Find yourself being Noticed!

Develop a positive 'Hatitude' and experience a rise in self-esteem!

Find yourself saying - 'I didn't realize how much fun I could have wearing a beautiful hat!

So what has 'this volunteer brigade of stylish ladies who are making a difference' (a description by 'Creative Home" magazine) been up to? Getting involved in lots of happy occasions which have benefited both the hat wearers and their communities!  We illustrate a few....

Visiting 'Assisted Living Facilities:

Several times a year, a group of Hat Ladies will visit residential homes, bringing with them extra hats for the residents to admire, try on, see themselves in, and, if they are are able, eventually to parade around the room in.  This happy activity gets people talking, laughing and brings back happy memories of previous occasions when a hat was worn.  It's altogether a very happy occasion to which residents and staff both look forward with pleasure.  What a delightful way to spend an hour or two!

Decorating Hats at the Children's Hospital of The Medical University of South Carolina

For this project, the Hat Ladies either make or purchase plain hats and help the children to decorate them.  Everyone has fun!  Often the doctors will put on one of the hat left behind by the group, thus becoming less ominous and spreading the fun further!

Thanks to Archie's hard work and vision, the Hat Ladies logo can now be found on lots of products.  This T-shirt proudly proclaims the identity of members in many locations.  Take Betty, for example, seen (below) on her travels in Peru.  While visiting this very remote village, she made a gift of school supplies provided by the Hat Ladies back in Charleston.

Back at home, others spread the word about hats by drinking hat Ladies tea from Hat Ladies mugs, and why not?  They also make delightful gifts...Another important task - get the next generation in training for wearing hats!  The younger they start the better!  No age restrictions here....

And lastly, let's not forget lunch.  Social occasions are important, too.  They help to draw others in and create the right 'HATmospere' for both enjoyment and doing good.  We are sure that these communal meals are hotbeds of ideas about the next project.  Whatever will it be?

We recommend that you visit the Hat Ladies website. In it you will find a wealth of information not only about what the Hat Ladies themselves get up to, but also about hats and hat wearing.

Of particular help to hat makers who want to sell their hats, is the series of pages entitled, 'Brimming with Ideas.'  This contains a section which deals with 'Hat Anxiety' -- the things that people who don't yet feel confident enough to wear a hat worry about.  here too you can find articles about buying  hat, caring for it, choosing the right style, together with lots of other practical information.

If you know other ladies who love to wear hats of all colours and have a kind heart to match, then why not throw your hat into the ring, contact Archie, and start...

The Hat Ladies of your town!

 The Chicago Tribune

June 14, 2006

"America's Best-Mannered City"

Ladies and gentlemen, you are cordially invited to enjoy this article about the genteel residents of...

CHARLESTON, SC. In this typically Southern city, proper manners are a way of life.  People say "hello" when they pass strangers on the street, children learn to say "please" as soon as they can speak, and men still stand when a woman gets up from the table.

It came as no surprise to residents here that for 10 years in a row, this genteel city was named the best-mannered city in America.  Three Illinois cities -- Peoria, Moline, and Rock Island -- have consistently made the Top 10.

The designation, bestowed by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart, who has compiled the list for 28 years, might not mean much to the rest of the world.  But in Charleston, which has built a thriving tourism industry around its Southern charm, the title -- determined by suggestions from tourists -- is a source of pride.

'It's just the way people are here, and we are very proud of it,' said Mayor Joseph Riley.  'But because we have good manners, it's not something we campaign for.'

...For many longtime Charleston residents, good manners are passed down from one generation to another.  They generally believe it is the job of the parents to make sure children at an early age grasp one of the most important more of the South.

On a recent afternoon, The Hat Ladies of Charleston met for tea at a downtown hotel.  Dressed in their trademark frilly hats, the women in the social club that also does community service began discussing manners.

'Good manners give you an edge on the competition in a world where people are competing for jobs and everything.  It raises you above the pack and leads toward a more civilized society,' said Susan Fasola, 57, a transplanted Southern belle; she moved to Charleston from New Jersey eight years ago.

Sybil Weekley, 67, born and raised in Charleston, said good manners were part of her upbringing, and she tried to instill those values in her children.

'When I was growing up, manners were taught in home-economics class.  We learned the proper way to use utensils at the table, how to write than-you notes, and to be nice to elders,' she said.  'I was taught to say 'yes ma'am' and to wait for a gentleman to open the door for me.  I still expect men to do that.'

Barbara (Archie) Burkel, president of the group, said that doing tea is not just about socializing. It's abut e networking and building self-esteem.

'We enjoy walking down the street with our head up,' said Burkel, adding that the group performs a lot of community service in the area.  'When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good.'

...Tearooms, bed and breakfast inns, and events that involve manners have become a big part of the tourist industry. ....Things like good manners represent something positive about (the city's) history, something other areas don't have.

So when people go to cities like Charleston, they act different, just like you act different at the beach or you act different when you're at Wrigley Field.  They are experiencing a part of Southern culture.


April 2006

"Azalea Fest, Pt. 2"

..."Try on some hats:  ...In the meantime, here's some advice from Archie Burkel, hat aficionado and founder of The Hat Ladies, a club that 'honors and respects elegance, grace and the traditions of hat-wearing with a spirit of volunteerism.' She explains how to choose just the right garden party hat:  'First I'd select one with a broad brim, to shade one's lovely face from the sun,' the Top Hat says. 'Then I'd gravitate toward pastel colors or white, to be in harmony with Mother Nature.  Next I'd make certain my hat had fresh flower (and maybe even a small bird or two).' For the birds, though, don't go fresh.  Go to the crafts store."

Southern Lady, "Tea Time Magazine"

May/June 2006

"La Belle Charleston"

The tea served at Charleston Place Hotel, is arguably, the most esteemed in the city.  The seasonal menu always includes an array of savories, sweets, and of course, hot golden scones.

The Hat Ladies of Charleston are teatime 'regulars' at Charleston Place, the site of The Ladies' inaugural meeting in May, 2001.

(Two photos: One at a table with three Ladies; one outside with the seven of us who were present for this special photo shoot).

Post and Courier

March 2006

"Parading for Paddy"

"...Around the corner on Meeting Street, in front of the Hibernian Society Hall, several members of The Hat Ladies of Charleston jumped up and down enthusiastically to catch strands of gold and green beads being flung from passing cars.

'We've been waiting for this day,' said Hat Lady Rosemary Saari, who wore a large beaded necklace, green sunglasses and green-and-white top hat. 'This is a fun, happy day for all Charlestonians."

    Feathers in our Caps