The Charleston Regional Business Journal
Influential Women in Business
Archie Burkel, President and founder, The Hat Ladies. A hat is not just a hat when it is worn by one of The Hat Ladies of Charleston. Instead it 's a symbol of compassion, camaraderie, community service -- and fashion.
Just ask Archie Burkel. The Chicago native always had a passion for hats, but it wasn't until she moved to Charleston 10 years ago that this love turned into a movement. She found that when she would wear hats downtown, women would compliment her. Burkel began taking down their names and, before long, she had organized The Hat Ladies.
Among the occasions she presented the group, she found volunteer opportunities and "Thus, The Hat Ladies became known as a stylish brigade of volunteers who are making a difference," Burkel said, adding that chapters of The Hat Ladies have since opened up across the nation.
The Hat Ladies' mantra began as "When you look good, you feel good," but, as the group became more involved in volunteer efforts, it evolved into "When you feel good, you DO good."
As such, Burkel and The Ladies have assisted various community organizations with their fundraising efforts. The Preservation Society, the Historic Charleston Foundation, the S.C. Historical Society, The Footlight Players, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Trident Boys and Girls Club and Pattison's Academy have all been helped by The Hat Ladies' efforts. Burkel has created two fashion shows as fundraisers, and a third is in the works.
Burkel's group has participated in walks and telethons for autism, mental health, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, worked on projects during the United Way Day of Caring, and collected Toys for Debi's Kids. She has also instituted projects for The Hat Ladies alone, including monthly visits to assisted living facilities, hat decorating programs at MUSC Children's Hospital, and a scholarship at Garrett Academy of Technology.
"If a good cause asks for our help, I do my best to rally our elegant ambassadors and provide it," Burkel said.
In addition to community outreach, Burkel said the group benefits personally and professionally from the networks they've established with one another.
"In reality, we are more of a sisterhood than an organization because of our camaraderie and helpfulness to each other," said Jacqueline Lear, a member of The Hat Ladies. "We cheer each other's talents and skills, but no one cheers louder than Archie. She supports us and promotes us in all our dreams and ambitions."
The Post and Courier
Duke's Mayonnaise Commercial Fame Spreads; Local Woman's Ad Spot Still Running by Chase Purdy
Beverly Craven hesitated. "I had mixed feelings at first," she said. "Do I want people laughing at me? But then I thought, 'what you see is what you get.'" The 75-year-old Charleston County Council Clerk said she received a phone call from Duke's Mayonnaise two months ago asking if she'd be interested in their running the commercial they had filmed with her. She accepted and today curious television viewers still stop her in grocery stores.
...In the commercial, which is still being broadcast nationally, Craven appears at Boone Hall Farms and talks about her grandmother using Duke's Mayonnaise for their recipes, specifically for tomato sandwiches.
Her friend, Archie Burkel, claimed responsibility for the commercial. She's the Top Hat of The Hat Ladies of Charleston, an organization that Craven belongs to as well, and Burkel recommended Craven for the advertisement. "Beverly Craven epitomizes the Southern lady," Burkel said. "from the top of her hat to the tip of her toes she exudes charm and graciousness."
It wasn't the first time her friends surprised her. In 2007 she said she was nominated and named the S.C. Older Person of the Year. Her prize: a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the state's senators and representatives and mingle with 51 other older persons of the year (Puerto Rico also sent someone).
....A glance at Craven's schedule reveals a busy woman's day-to-day life...."I have a busy life, but it's fun." Craven plans to introduce her granddaughter to The Hat Ladies of Charleston Saturday.
The Post and Courier AND The Moultrie News
Eighty members of the East Cooper Newcomers Club recently enjoyed a change of 'hat-attiude' during a presentation by Archie Burkel from the Hat ladies of Charleston. Pictured from left are: Susie gGaven Smith, Burkel, Carolyn Coker, Nancy Wolfe, Stevie Thomas, and Carol Williamson. ECNC members meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month for coffee and the 3rd Wednesday of each month at Carraba's (Hwy. 17N) for lunch, and special presentations.
The Summerville Journal Scene
Ladies who lunch
Adding a festive touch to the St. Paul's Tearoom are representatives from the Hatladies of Charleston. From left are Judy Bennett, Inge Schopman, Hatladies founder Archie Burkel and Patti Mortimer.
The Charleston Mercury
More Out & About
Photographs by Blair Halford
The Post and Courier
"Bright, bold -- and powerful" by Tenisha Waldo
Annual promenade puts the feel-good nature of hats on display.
There's attitude, and then there's HATtitude. Please don't mistake the two. They are distinctly different. HATtitude is the confidence and grace that The Hat Ladies exude when they stroll downtown streets each year while crowds of tourists and fans watch in awe.
Archie Burkel, known as the Top Hat, was sure to bring her HATtitude to Saturday's seventh annual Easter Promenade. "You better believe it," she said. Her vivid green hat was adorned with colorful floral intricacies and a brim made of flower-patterned fabric. Burkel founded The Hat Ladies years ago. The women regularly volunteer at hospitals, schools and convalescent homes, and help out with other civic activities. The women have found that if you look good, you feel good, and so you want to do good.
On Saturday, the procession was all about looking and feeling good. "We're all-inclusive," Burkel said. "You see every age, you see every nationality. We're bringing people together, whether it's within our group or the people who have come to see us."
The promenade participants, about 200 of them, wore blue ribbons in support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month next month. They walked down Meeting Street to White Point Garden and then gathered for refreshments at the Palmer Home Bed and Breakfast on East Battery Street, where the kids also had an Easter egg hunt.
Each hat influenced each lady's strut. Susan Fasola of Mount Pleasant donned a deep pink rose topper with a fabric rosette that had black plumes spring outward. Her fab hat, as she called it, had a lot to do with how she carried herself during the parade. "I think when you're wearing a special hat you walk a little taller," Fasola said. "The head's held a little higher. You know, you have better posture. The whole nine yards."
Asked how her hat made her feel, James Island resident Nancy Gorlesky said, "I think it makes me feel confident and young and proud to be a member of The hat Ladies." Gorlesky wore a jazzy yellow picture hat that she ornamented with velvety black swirls to match her yellow, gray and black sun dress. Her dog, Bailey, wore a matching yellow scarf and a picture hat decorated with yellow and black flowers. Bailey, a West Highland white terrier, flaunted his HATtitude as he pranced down the street. "He owns this street," Gorlesky said. "He thinks this is his parade."
Besides pets, The Hat Ladies also were joined by their beaus and several young people. Allison Tomarchio of James Island brought along her son, Jonah, 2. The toddler wore a navy blue fisherman's hat with colorful plastic Easter eggs attached around the brim. A tiny stuffed frog jutted out of a side pocket. "He picked out the eggs," Tomarchio said.
Saturday was 15-year old Betty Ann Neilson's first time participating in the promenade. Her turquoise asymmetrical hat had a sequined flower. The James Island teen she was glad to "see other people smiling because I'm wearing a hat. It really does boost people's confidence."
For seven years the Hat ladies of Charleston have been promenading through historic downtown Charleston bringing awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month. Don your best Easter bonnet, celebrate the holiday in style, and honor Charleston's hat-wearing roots. Meet at the corner of meeting and Broad, then head to White Point gardens to observe this time-honored tradition. Be sure to arrive early to show off your fabulous fashions before the promenade begins. Corner of Broad & Meeting sts. Saturday, 11am. Free. www.hatladies.org.
22: Female camaraderie and community service make the Hat Ladies of Charleston worth noticing at 11am as they strut their contagious "hattitude" down Meeting St. from Broad to White Point Garden at the 7th Annual Easter Hat Ladies Promenade.
TravelSPOTLIGHT: Thinking Charleston? Think Hats!
History. Plantations. Hanging moss. Mint Juleps. Hats. Hats? What's in a hat? The beauty, mystery, gentility, grace, and elegance that visitors associate with the South.
Nowhere is this symbolism more evident than on the heads of The Hat Ladies: Ladies of all ages who wear hats of all colors in a spirit of fashion and compassion. This stylish brigade of volunteers is making a difference throughout Charleston.
They help The Footlight Theater with their fundraising efforts and serve as docents for Historic Charleston Foundation and Preservation Society's Tours of Homes and Gardens. They bring cheer to residents of assisted living facilities and hats to the Children's Hospital. They present an annual Scholarship to a senior girl at Garrett Academy.
These lovely Ladies can be found at some of the fine restaurants the first Saturday of the month and strolling the historic streets of Charleston the Saturday of Easter Weekend in their annual Promenade. When coming to Charleston, check out the HaTpenings section on their website, hatladies.org. The Hat Ladies invite you to grab your hat and camera and join them as they bring the days of yore into the 21st century of the South. reservations required via the website (www.hatladies.org).
The Hat Lady in the photo is Archie Burkel, Top Hat of The Hat Ladies.
The Charleston Mercury
Photos of Archie Burkel, Top Hat of The Hat Ladies and Jocelyn Edwards, Executive Director of The Footlight Players, on private showing of the play Crowns. The Hat Ladies sponsored the hat-themed Art Auction Fundraiser. Additional photo of The Ladies on the red carpet: Rosie Bolchoz, Diana Clark, Chris Thomas, Jackie Lear.
Post and Courier
The Hat Ladies Annual Luncheon at Garrett Academy in support of our yearly Monetary Award to a graduating senior who personifies our ideals: Photo of Roxanne Phillips, Hazel France, Liz Franchini
Post and Courier
...Crowns also will include a silent auction sponsored by The Hat Ladies, a group of volunteers who celebrate the wearing of all types of chapeaux....
In the News