A Hat for Every Occasion
At Chapeaux de Femmes in Calabash, Helen Edwards practices the fading art of haberdashery.
Looking for something special to add spice to your wardrobe? A new hat could be the crowning glory for your outfit. Chapeaux de Femmes in Calabash is just the place to find the topper to complement your outfit and spiff you up for your special occasion.
Helen Edwards, store owner and haberdasher, can help you select a creation from her stock. She sells everything from wide-brimmed beauties to extraordinary fascinators. If nothing on the shelf appeals, she can make you an original.
When Edwards retired after a career in the airline industry and moved to Brunswick County from Long Island, New York, she began looking for something to keep herself busy in addition to community work and having fun with friends. A little over a year ago it occurred to her to make her love of hats into a business.
“I’ve always worn hats,” she says. “I’m a girly girl. The development I live in has a Red Hat chapter and sponsors Derby parties and teas. And, of course, there is church. All of these events and occasions call for hats.”
Her friends often borrowed her hats for events, and when they started suggesting that she should sell them, she began to explore possible locations for a shop.
“I’ve always been a crafter and sewed, so I knew I could make hats as well as sell ready-made,” Edwards says. “When I found my present location in the little mall in Calabash, I knew it was the right space for me.”
If you don’t think of yourself as a hat person, Edwards may well convince you to become one. She carries tams, turbans (for those bad hair days as well as for people undergoing hair loss), wide hats and, of course, those fascinators. “The fascinators are one of my best sellers,” she says. “Sometimes people come into the shop with an outfit they love and ask me to design a hat to go with it. I’m always glad to do it.”
Even if you are not in love with hats, it’s hard to resist the feminine charms of her shop. She carries a wide variety of accessories — gloves, purses, evening bags, jewelry, hair clips, scrunchies and even some antiques. Every item is hand-selected, and many are handmade.
She also carries the Alyssa line of vegan leather purses, so if your sensibilities are against using animal products, a fashionable handbag is still well within your reach at Edwards’ shop.
The shop, which has been operating for a year, is only open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, leaving Edwards time to design and create new hats and to reach out into the community helping people find their hat personalities and discover that hats are fun! She strives to keep everything in an affordable price range. Many items are less than $20.
Edwards enjoys meeting with groups, speaking about hats, showing off her hat collection and convincing many in attendance that maybe they do look good in hats after all.
Carolyn Gardner, a board member at the Bent Tree Ladies Club, invited Edwards to give a presentation after being introduced to her by a friend. “When she came to the club we were so impressed with her talent!” Gardner says. “Not long after her presentation our Ladies Club held a tea and, of course, everyone wanted to buy a hat from Helen.” Gardner admits that she has always loved hats and was a hat model as a child, so she was thrilled to find a local place where she could indulge her love of headwear.
Little River’s Barbara Thompson, a member of the Little River United Methodist Widow’s Club, heard about Edwards’ store through the consignment shop a few doors down. “I was looking for a fascinator,” she says. “They had one on hand that Helen had made. I got that one and went to see the shop. Then I invited her to my home to meet with some friends and introduce them to her fascinators and other hats. After that, I invited her to speak to our Widow’s Club. Helen has such a vibrant personality and is such a talented artist. She’s like family.”
Edwards keeps adding things in the shop but with her artistic arrangements manages to make the shop look fun but never cluttered. Her artistry graces church services, parties, weddings and more for an increasing number of women who find their way to Calabash.
Want to find a hat?
Chapeaux De Femmes
10140 Beach Drive, Suite 5, Calabash