When Maturing Mama magazine reached out to me for a feature and collaboration, I knew it would be a perfect platform to tell my story of starting Easy Living Hats, and how it saved my life.
Back in 2016 I closed a sustainable clothing store and it felt like a failure. I had a 3 year old son at the time, and I relapsed back into my addiction. I spent a year isolated in my home not knowing how to move forward, and paralyzed by the shame I felt about losing my store, losing the relationship with my son’s father, and losing my recovery. Having a retail store felt so “professional”, so when I couldn’t keep it open I thought that meant I was a failure at the only thing I felt I was good at.
After a year of checking out with alcohol and not being a present mother, I had a divine moment and knew that I had to wake up. I entered a recovery program for the second time in my life, and I started a new business to keep from picking up a drink.
I distinctly remember one sober morning, while my son was watching cartoons in the next room, writing down notes to myself about what to do for work. I had already been working on a hat design and I knew I wanted to continue with a creative business.
I asked myself “What do I want my life to look like now?” and in a joking way I thought “Easy!”
Three years of having a store and a baby, during a time where Ithaca, NY was under a huge “revitalization project” (translation: the whole downtown was under construction and it was nearly impossible for businesses to get foot traffic) was anything but easy. I barely saw my son and barely had enough sales coming in to keep my business afloat, let alone support my home life.
So at that moment, planning my next business move and asking myself what I wanted my life to look like, the thought “Easy Living” came to mind. I wanted more time with my son. I wanted work that would afford me more time and flexibility. Honestly, I wanted to crochet in my pajamas every day!
And that was the start of Easy Living Hats.
I didn’t really crochet in my pajamas every day as planned! But I was able to crochet hats while at the playground with my son, during AA meetings getting sober, and in the comfort of a home office free of construction noise and downtown politics.
The Easy Living Hat is a crocheted Sun Hat design that will stretch to fit any size, can be worn in any season, and will pack flat for travel and storage. It is an original design and pattern I created in 2009 and I have been evolving the product ever since.
When the pandemic hit, I experienced a spike in sales and needed help filling orders.
I found a small textile developer in Peru and together we trained Peruvian women how to crochet the hat fiber. This partnership formed during the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and getting to know these Peruvian moms made me realize that lifting up their community was just as important as continuing to support the women of color in my community too.
Now, not only does Easy Living Hats support me and my son in a healthy and affirming way, but it helps support moms in Peru who can work from home with their families. Together we agreed on sustainable wages that they could earn per piece so they could negotiate their own time and availability while working from home. I always loved the method of crochet for a packable hat style, but I love the concept of production being flexible and sufficient too.
This August I celebrated 4 years of recovery and 4 years of Easy Living Hats. I will have officially survived a pandemic, taken my business from a home office to a global endeavor, and have learned the most valuable lesson about failure:
It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, as long as you are willing to get back up and try again.
By shopping Easy Living Hats you not only support a woman-owned business but you help empower the lives of the women making them.
Easy Living Hats are available online at Easy Living Hats.
You can also find us on Instagram.
Use code MMHatFam to get $10 off a hat from this collection.