Making a life by crafting hats
Stephanie Risden enjoys making hats and has turned the idea of creating the beautifully handcrafted pieces into an income- earning opportunity. Originally from Beckford Kraal in Clarendon, she has relocated closer to the capital where it is easier to earn a living marketing her products.
The mother of four began making hats for a living after leaving her job at a restaurant. "It wasn't working out. I wasn't making much money, so I left and instead of sitting at home I decided to start something for myself," she told Rural Xpress.
"One day, a lady asked me to redo an old, worn-out hat for her. I really didn't know how to do it but I told her, yes, and in undoing it (the hat) I realised how it was made and I was able to put it back together properly and it came out good. When me carry it back to her, she love it," said Risden.
For the past three years, Risden has been selling at the roadside in May Pen and has managed to make enough money to sustain her family. "Mi just start something and come out on the road and everybody like it and I realise it a work, so mi just continue. Mi come and people encourage mi, so I continue to do it."
The raw materials she uses are not limited to the straw and decorative mesh that she purchases from local stores. She also uses other adornments to give the hats of varying styles and designs a more complete look with a bit of flair. "I also make for choirs and other groups. Any amount the orders come in, I supply them," she said.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
"I love what I do. I'm very comfortable doing it. I work at nights or even when I'm on the roadside. A lot of people support me; some persons buy from me on the roadside and even take it overseas and sell it. I can also do any design even from a picture in any colour," Risden said. She added that she has thought about making handbags and other items but for now she is taking it one step at a time. "I always think about going further. I want to learn more designs and I don't mind learning something new as I try to get better at the craft each day."
She noted that several persons have expressed an interest in learning the art of hat-making and she has even taught a few of them. "After I teach them, they try to take my customers, but I don't really watch that, because in God I put my trust and badmind have no place here. Weh badmind ah guh? Dat never get pick. Dat can't stop mi," she said.
"This is what I do to send my children to school. Their father helps but as a mother I also have to get up and play my part too because they are also my responsibility."
Risden encouraged other persons to "try a ting" too. "Do not sit idly by. Get up and do something."
Interested persons may contact her at 870-6619.