Danielle's Design Process
I began designing hats for cancer patients with my mother, Carol, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 26 years ago. During chemotherapy treatments, she was unable to find something that allowed her to feel normal after losing all of her hair. She was left feeling completely embarrassed and demoralized. She vowed that if she made it through, she would find or create the very things that she had longed for during her own treatments.
Headcovers Unlimited began as a labor of love; for me, it was a way to help my mother heal from the trauma of cancer. Our first creation was a hat and vest combination, an idea my mother had that would allow a hat to be matched with any outfit. From there, we designed a sleep cap - the cap she had so desperately wanted when she was wheeled out of surgery wearing a paper surgical cap to cover her hair loss. From there, we designed soft hats that were comfortable but also fashionable. At a time when tired turbans were the only option, we wanted our designs to be stylish and something that anyone would want to wear.
My mother fought a 20 year battle with breast cancer and defied all odds. For her, Headcovers was a way to heal and bring meaning to her life. Although she ultimately succumbed to her cancer, she left this world 7 years ago as a victor; her life inspired so many women and fellow survivors and she made a real difference. For me, my own experience with cancer was a pro-active one. 4 years ago, I chose to have a preventative mastectomy in an effort to avoid all that my mother endured.
Most of my creations begin with a problem that women have shared with me, and a desire to solve it. For example, one design problem I struggled with is that women who have cancer don't always know how to tie a scarf. Many of them cannot put their hands over their heads to tie a scarf or they just don't have the energy or skill-set. So I set out to create a line of pre tied head scarves that would require minimal or no tying. Creating a design that would meet all of my standards was no easy task. This was a project that took me years to perfect. We now have several unique pre tied scarf designs that I am very proud of.
Fabrics are one of my biggest design inspirations. But I look for inspiration wherever I go. It's not unusual for me to snap photos of random things I see every day. Textures, colors, materials, or a unique perspective. I once followed a woman around the Paris airport so I could take a photo of her shirt. These ideas dance around in my head and come out in their own way the next time I set out to solve another problem. My work area is messy. Papers are everywhere, notes are jotted in random places. Fabric scraps and hats in various stages of design are all over the place.
Everything I design must meet a very stringent criteria - requirements that my mother defined when she was in treatments. The design has to fully cover the head. It has to be comfortable. It has to fit and drape well. It has to be flattering and fashionable. It has to be something anyone (with or without hair loss) would want to wear. The quality must be impeccable.
I play a hands on role in every part of the design process. My approach is unconventional. If my new idea is similar to something I've already made, I will often start there, making cuts and modifications, adding pieces of fabric here and there to an existing design. If it isn't, it begins with wrapping a piece of fabric around my head in the way I imagine the hat to be, pinning it and playing with the way the fabric drapes; cutting here and there and then stopping to see how it looks. My mind works in a very three dimensional way. For this reason, the design isn't drawn until I have already finished it with fabric. Often, I won't put anything to paper until I need to communicate it to someone else.
Fabrics are very important to me. For this reason, many of our fabrics are custom made to meet the unique needs of our customers. Prints are designed specifically for the purpose of wearing on the head. Most of our fabrics are all cotton or eco friendly bamboo, which allows the head to breathe and remain comfortable in all climates. I personally inspect and ensure that every hat is sewn up to our high standards.
If our product line is missing something you would like to see, please feel free to contact us. Many of our designs are inspired by feedback from customers. I look forward to hearing from you; Please know that you are in my prayers.