In a time where traditions have faded, where people avoid eye contact on the streets and heads remain barren & cold, four women have set out on an adventure to revive tradition, to unify the people and to “Bring the Hat Back.”
Traditions... So hard to remember... Let’s go back in history to 1918 to a time when a man did not leave his house without his pocket watch, handkerchief and hat. He would tip his hat to strangers passing the other way. He would remove his hat in the presence of ladies, while in a building, or before someone of important stature. With the new millennium, the old will come creeping back and tradition will be sought after. In order to trace back to the time where elegance started, we must look to our forefathers, mentors, and creators of class, style, and the quality of the craft.
Paul's Hat Works was opened and ran by Napoleon Marquez from from 1918 to 1955. He came to the US from Peru, having grown up around the Ecuadorian tradition of weaving panama straw hats. He passed the legacy to his godson Kelley Bowling, who ran it with his wife Stephanie for many more years. The third generation to own Paul’s Hat Works was Michael Harris and his wife Judy. Michael became the owner in 1980, but 28 years later he was ready to retire and paint the coasts of California. Michael looked for a successor, sure that only a knight in shining armor could continue the 91 year old legacy.
Low and behold four young ladies of the neighborhood rose to the occasion. With a collective history in fashion, textiles, costuming, invention and co-operative buisness, the four ladies filled the role of knight in shining armor well. Abbie Dwelle, Wendy Hawkins, Olivia Griffin and Kirsten Hove took the shop over from Michael Harris in June of 2009. The ladies apprenticed with Michael, learning the craft of making hats, and of their oral history. What the shop has traditionally made are classic, quality, custom hand crafted panama straw and beaver felt hats. The ladies aim to continue this tradition. Most of these classic straw and felt hats are co-designed by customers themselves, after we have taken their needs, specs, and conformiteur into consideration.
The new Paul’s Hat Works transcends simple monetary purposes and now is not only a hat shop, but a space that transports you back to 1918, serves you coffee, teaches you about hats, and offers open studio and gala opportunities for customers, neighbors, and friends alike.
Paul's Hat Works does not currently sell our hats online. Since we specialize in custom making each hat, meeting our customers is a crucial step in the process. We do things the old-fashioned way, from meeting every customer in person to using tools and methods that are over a hundred years old. However we can work with you over the telephone and email to plan your custom hat.
Interested in wholesaling with Paul's Hat Works? Give us a call on the telephone at (415) 221-5332
Organization & Shop Maintenance
Brim Curling Iron
Upkeeps the building, hatting machines, tools and of course, makes and repairs hats. Also heads small design tasks and the screen printing studio, bringing you custom screen printed ribbon and tee shirts. The pickiest eye of the bunch, she is responsible for quality control and is likely to take on the impossible hat shape or repair.
Loves power tools, recycled materials and skillful construction.
Bookkeeping & Human Resources
Our monetary brain, keeping us in the know of the numbers each week, as well as master of logistics and scheduling. She brings the cooperative model into our business theory and is a hat maker and refurbisher extraordinaire. She is passionate about buying local and helps us keep our store, events, and practices welcoming to the neighborhood, community, and environment.
Wendy likes to bake pies, and is also a proud member of Hot Sauce of the month club.
Marketing & Outreach
Whiskey on the rocks
The Puller Down
Displays our quality, tradition and trade craft abilities to the public. Specializing in guerrilla marketing, she drags the ladies out to theatre, fashion, music, and film events dressed in theme, for four women dressed up in hats are sure to attract attention. Plans the events at Paul's Hat Works, including holiday get togethers, launch parties, open studios and film nights for the community. Armed with bucketfuls of creative insight, she keeps our establishment full of character as we hurtle towards the future. All of this, that is, when she isn't making and refurbishing chapeaus.
Olivia dazzled audiences when she designed, directed, and choreographed an elaborate fifteen minute circus dance piece for SF State's annual choreography showcase.
Production & Resourcing
Top Hat Man
Boston Brim Cutter
Manages hat production and refurbishing. She also tracks down all of the parts and pieces we need to fabricate the hats we see in our minds. Kirsten is a powerhouse of energy, keeping us clean, efficient and on schedule.
Kirsten is a unicyclist and likes to dip things in beeswax.