Friday, July 5, 2013
The Hat Maker
Ellen moved to the city a year ago. Her father had always told her that a young woman was expected to find a good man and to settle down and have babies. Ellen didn't want to find a good man because she had seen her friends and older sisters find good men and now all they did was cook and clean. She wanted more than a vegetable garden to weed and an endless load of laundry to fold. She loved children but they would come in her future when she decided that it was time. For now she wanted to live her life on her terms. She wanted to own a hat shop just like Mrs. Clarkson. Every summer the beautiful lady would come back to town and open up her parents old house to relax for a month. Ellen used to go over and clean the place for her before she arrived and during her stay. When her work was done she would sit in the kitchen and listen to Mrs. Clarkson tell her stories about her shop in the city where she made beautiful hats for women. Every summer she brought Ellen a new hat and told her that when she grew up, she could come and work for her.
Well at eighteen she felt she was grown up enough and when Mrs. Clarkson returned to the city after her vacation, Ellen went with her. Her mother had cried and her father turned cold and silent. He knew he had a head strong daughter and there was nothing he could say to change her mind.
In the first few months after arriving in the city, she learned how to make the hats on the wooden molds using the wool felt and hot water. Then came the decorating, using feathers and hand crafted flowers from silk and velvet. She learned to dye the wool and fabrics so that the hats could be designed to suit even the fanciest demands of the rich ladies who came into the shop.
One morning she arrived at the shop early and the back door was still locked. Usually Mrs. Clarkson was up and at work by this time and she always unlocked the door for Ellen so that they could sit and have breakfast together. This was the time of the day that they went over the orders and decided what had to get done that day.
Ellen had her own key now, just in case something happened, she had been told. If for some reason Mrs. Clarkson had to go away on a buying trip, Ellen would have to open the store and serve the customers. So she unlocked the door and went into the empty kitchen. She called out to her boss but there was no answer. As she went into the living room, she saw her laying on the sofa, still asleep. She called out but there was no answer.
Ellen was now the owner of Belle Hats. Mrs. Clarkson had changed her will after Ellen had started to work for her. She had been diagnosed with a heart condition and without any family of her own, she left her life's work to the one person she knew would keep it going. She had left provisions in her will that if something happened to her, Ellen would be taught the business side of operating the shop under the guidance of her lawyer for a year.
Ellen moved into the Mrs. Clarkson's apartment in the back of the store. She painted it and turned it into a place of her own. She added new styles and a wider selection of hats. Within two years, she had increased sales and was now a proud business owner. Just like Mrs. Clarkson, she never married nor had any children. George had asked her to marry him many times in her life, but she knew that she could never be any man's wife. Every summer she returned home and opened up Mrs. Clarkson's parents old house. She always spent a month in town visiting her family and friends. Every year she brought hats for her mother and sisters. She was a hat maker.
“Leap and the net will appear."
Julia Cameron, Cameron is the best-selling author of "The Artist's Way".