She opened her first shop at the age of 27, just after leaving graduate school. It was a new and used clothing store in Sonoma, California, the first of several retail ventures. She went on to open a home furnishings store from which she also offered design consultations. This evolved into a second home furnishings store of a little different style, and an interior design career that thrived even after her first pregnancy and the closing of that retail location.
It was in a roundabout way that Patricia Zanger discovered her love for hats and millinery. When Zanger and her husband moved to Portland in 2004, the seasoned designer and Californian noticed a gap in the market. "I was freezing and couldn't find a hat I liked in this town," she recalls. A few years later, after finding herself with spare time, the stay-at-home mom decided to jump back into the retail game.
Bonnet began in 2008 in Portland's Pearl District. Zanger sold hats made by other makers, but noticed that the quality of the products could be better. "I started taking things apart that I thought were poorly made," she says. Through this process of curiosity, she taught herself how to make hats of her own design and construction.
"When you're a creative person, and you know about textiles and how to deconstruct things, you can figure it out," Zanger explains. With the aid of knowledge gleaned from her interior design background, all she need was the materials – felt, steam, pins, the correct block – and a little bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. By 2012, Zanger had successfully added her own line of hats to her collection.
Zanger's line is handmade, using high quality materials such as angora felt and vintage ribbon, and are sewn instead of glued. The hats are shaped by steam, which keeps them free from the chemicals and starches of other manufacturing methods. The results are wearable, durable, and, above all, beautiful.
Because that's what hats are for, after all... to add a touch of decoration. And to make the wearer feel absolutely fabulous, as naturally as possible.
To see more on the process behind what goes into the making of a Bonnet hat, check out the video below.
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We've recently taken The Kaira Fedora to London with us, and have fallen head over heals for it (no pun intended). With its ability to bounce back after any packing method, it makes the perfect travel companion!