Meet Amina Marie. She is an artist, hat-maker (aka: milliner!), creative spirit, and a truly warm and wonderful person. We sat down and talked with her about how to find the right hat for every occasion.
Q: You design the most beautiful custom hats for clients. And you also sell hats to people who want to pop in to your shop or visit AminaMarieMillinery.com and buy one that day. What are some basic rules of thumb on choosing the best hat?
Finding the right hat is all about finding the right proportion and balance between the face and the hat. For example, if you have a petite head, you want to be careful that the hat or fascinator does not overwhelm the face. Another rule in the hat world is to make sure the brim of your hat does not exceed the width of your shoulders.
Also great to remember when choosing the best topper: what will the purpose of the hat be. Many of my hats are worn as everyday wear, so it is important to find a fit that offers versatility and complements many outfits. On the other hand, if someone is looking to make a statement or seeking a hat for a specific event, then it is important to find one that stands out while complementing the confidence of the wearer.
Q: Hats. So many of us love them on others but feel nervous about taking the plunge and wearing them ourselves. How can you dispel a newbie’s nerves and help encourage that first purchase?
It’s sad that historically, we ALL used to wear hats of all kinds for different occasions. I’m trying to help others bring a little of that class back with a modern edge. It is important to remember to have fun and try on many different styles of hats. I hear this all the time, "Hats just don't look good on me." Then they try on a different style and are completely surprised with the way the hat complements their features or look. Remember, if they made just one size and style swimsuit, would we all look good in it? Hats are the same thing.
Q: With all of these hat-worthy events coming up — Mother’s Day, Kentucky Derby, Easter Sunday…. tell us, when people select a hat for specific occasions, what factors should they consider?
Spring is my favorite time in the hat world! There are so many great reasons to wear a hat and the change in weather drives a confident person to showcase their style.
For Mother's Day and Easter, I love a softer look and a medium size brim that is not too large, and I work in the variety of a spring-color palette to help an outfit meet its full potential.
For Derby, I like to go bolder, with a larger brim, or a large fascinator. This allows wonderful creative opportunities for me as the milliner and for the hat wearer, which I love.
Q: How did you decide to become a milliner? We’ve heard something about Burning Man… tell us more! We love that this was the genesis for your amazing business. Sort of perfectly sets the stage for a world filled with creativity, surprise and individuality.
Life is full or surprises! I didn't start designing hats until I was 37 years old. A good friend of mine called me up and asked me to make a hat for her for the Burning Man festival. I literally laughed at her and said, “I don't make hats!” Then I felt drawn in by the creative opportunity and thought maybe I could make a fun hat for a crazy festival… and so it began. With my rekindled creative passion driving me, I took the next step and studied with another milliner, Jeanne Bjorn. I was completely hooked from that point forward and became obsessed with the art of hat-making, always working on honing my craft and finding new ways to showcase the creativity of millinery.
Q: As a successful designer and business woman, do you have a favorite quotation or guiding principle that keeps you both focused and creative?
“Inhale confidence. Exhale doubt” - unknown
I think confidence and persistence is something that also stays with me. Also, knowing when to step away and take deep breaths is important in hat-making, as it is in most creative endeavors, simply for discovering new perspectives in the hunt for the final finished piece of art.
Q: Your creations truly are works of art. There is a simplicity and a sophistication that feels both modern and timeless, elegant but not prissy. We think: “Kate, not the Queen.” How has your hat-making evolved?
I certainly take more bold chances than when I first started designing hats. I have found that I love to collaborate with other designers and artists which pushes my creativity and opens up more design opportunities.
This hat was from a collaboration with a talented KC print artist, Katrina Revenaugh. We pulled design elements from Katrina's photos of graffiti at London's South Bank Skate Park and monoprinted them on to millinery straw material. We were completely overjoyed when we found out our hat was accepted for the Worldwide London Hat Week Exhibition!
Q: What is your favorite hat for the beach?
I love to be active when I'm on the beach! I would wear our classic panama straw fedora.
It has the perfect brim to keep the sun off your face but not too big to get in the way while outside and active. However, the big straw brims on the beach can be complementary to one’s swim ensemble and help shade the fair-skinned beachgoer’s shoulders or one’s eyes when reading on the beach.
Q: Do you have a favorite “hat moment” or a favorite “iconic hat photograph or image”?
This image is my personal favorite when I met Mr. Hat (Ambassador to the Hat World) at London Hat Week! It's the moment when I realized that I had found my tribe. I called my husband that night and told him "I'm with my people.”
Q: What do you think best sums up the feeling when you look in the mirror, put on the perfect hat, and get ready to head out into the world?
When I love a hat, I just beam from inside out! I feel like I can conquer anything that comes my way. It is a great feeling of empowerment through fashion.
Thank you, Amina. We love this - and you! Now we are poised and ready to channel our inner-Kate, Jennifer Aniston, Rachel Zoe... or, who knows, maybe even blaze our own trail into the hat-world. We can't wait.
If you are interested in having the perfect hat customized just for you -- or to buy one of her ready-to-wear creations, visit AminaMarieMillinery.com.