The Business Is Personal

At MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® I personally design and create ladies’ fancy dress hats for the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, weddings, garden parties and tea parties all over the world. To me the business is personal; I encourage customers to think of me as their personal milliner, ready to assist them in their search for the perfect chapeau.

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The process begins with me asking a lot of questions. What is the occasion? Is there is an outfit that needs to be matched? How comfortable are they wearing a hat? We exchange swatches, photos and ideas by as we get to know one another and gradually the perfect hat design for them emerges from the process.

Last August, Robin Stater contacted me about designing a hat for her fall wedding.  She described herself and her sweetheart Philip Hertzog as “two independent souls,” which was reflected in the creative choice of an Old West setting for their wedding at the Law Railroad Museum in Bishop, CA.  The suggested attire for guests was “Old West and Victorian/Gothic”.  To add to the fun would be Robin’s grand entrance riding her gorgeous Tobiano paint horse, Major Proof, alongside her friend Janet Titus, her natural horsemanship horse trainer, and Janet’s husband, Dave. All that was missing was the perfect chapeau to make her wedding dream complete.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

From the very beginning Robin’s vision for the hat was clear: she loved my classic “Billie” mini top hat fascinator but wanted to customize it a bit to match her beautiful gown, a black and white embroidered organza confection with a hint of lime green and fuchsia accent. We got to work, starting with a photo of the dress. Robin decided on ivory silk for the top hat base. Her idea for a “chalkboard” (washed out black) tone for the trim was achieved using charcoal organza to fashion the leaves that framed the rose curl centerpiece. As we worked on the design together Robin used descriptions like “Victorian”, “elegant”, “Gothic”, “funky” which gave me the ideas for what she wanted. Fabric swatches were exchanged and Robin special ordered a silver metallic veiling she’d found online. I chose a soft ivory silk for the top hat foundation, ivory silk organza for the rose curl, sparkling rhinestone buttons and fancy braiding; Robin’s perfect choice of the silver veiling did indeed help pull it all together.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

On October 6, 2012, “Robin’s Billie” chapeau made her grand debut as Robin arrived for the wedding ceremony astride her beautiful paint horse. The vision took everyone’s breath away. Wedding guests told Robin that the hat was absolutely perfect; they were amazed that we were able to create such a perfect and magical hat even though we lived so far apart.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

As collaborative artists, my customers and I create hats that are one of a kind and perfectly suited to their needs and sense of style. The physical distance disappears as we connect, share and create magical custom chapeaux together. Like my hats, I have designed my business to be unique; a true custom millinery that encourages one to think outside the box.  And because each hat is created individually and sized to fit, their MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® chapeau feels like it was made “just for them” – because it was!

And I think my customers would agree with me when I say, the business just has to be personal.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

A very special thank you to Robin Stater and Susan Morning (SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY) for allowing me to share these wonderful images of Robin’s special wedding day with you!

Thunder Rumbles Into the New Year

This year, my New Year’s inspiration came from a horse. A horse named Thunder Rumble.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

He lives at Old Friends’ satellite farm in New York called Old Friends at Cabin Creek; home to 14 Thoroughbred retirees under the loving care of JoAnn Pepper and her husband, Mark. JoAnn describes Thunder Rumble as her dream horse, her own “Black Stallion”, a 24-year-old nearly black Thoroughbred who stands a stunning 17 hands high.

This is the horse Old Friends and I chose to honor in January’s auction fundraiser, “Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby.” This unique annual auction series is a six month event leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Each month, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® creates and donates a one-of-a-kind Derby hat to honor one of Old Friends’ retirees.

Of all the horses I could have selected for the January auction which begins the New Year, Thunder Rumble was the perfect choice. Even his name conjures up the sound of distant thunder and that tingling feeling of anticipation you get when you know that a storm is coming.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

Thunder Rumble’s path was not the usual one toward greatness. He wasn’t the easiest horse to handle. And he missed the entire 1992 Triple Crown series due to a virus. Then when he won the Jim Dandy Stakes against a stellar field at Saratoga in early August of that same year, many thought it was a fluke. But when he came back in just three weeks and won the Travers Stakes he showed them all what a great champion he really was.

JoAnn says that even at 24 years old, Thunder Rumble still trumpets his presence loudly wherever he goes. He and his buddy, fellow Travers Stakes winner, Will’s Way, are often seen racing one another in their adjacent paddocks.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

Like some mighty black steam engine, Thunder Rumble reminds me that I need to continually keep my passion in front of me and pursue it with everything I’ve got. Earlier this year, I clearly heard my own thunder rumbling as I tried to figure out what was my next path; in recent years I’d found a way to blend my passion for hats and horses by creating and donating Derby hats to raise funds for retired racehorses around the country. But a little voice inside kept whispering to do more.

After brushing it aside for months, I finally listened, joining Facebook in the Spring and later, starting this blog. I am now making new connections for my business and opening new doors for helping more horses in the future. What I learned through the experience is that it is the passion, like the thundering rumble within a horse that makes it run, that allows us to overcome the fear about trying new things and keeps us moving forward.

And in a pasture in Greenfield, New York a great senior stallion named Thunder Rumble still challenges his pasture mates to race him – and he wins; he wins because he believes he can. He has inspired me this New Year’s Day to keep listening for my own thunder rumble, to keep my passion front and center and to live with the anticipation that something’s coming. Something worth waiting for and working towards, heart and soul.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

I invite you to enjoy the images below of the “Thunder Rumble” chapeau up for bid starting January 1st through the 11th. And please share a Comment below on this blog page. Let me know what New Year’s Day means to you. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? And please be sure to sign up for email notifications of coming blog entries.

Happy New Year, everyone!
Sally

The "Thunder Rumble" Hat

Thunder Rumble Hat

To see more images of the “Thunder Rumble” chapeau and read all about the auction, please visit The Thunder Rumble Derby Hat Auction at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®.

A Horse for Christmas

It felt especially important to make it to the annual Christmas Stroll this year in our little town on Cape Cod. It had been a tough year for a lot of small businesses like ours and we needed a bit of Christmas magic to lighten our hearts. I personally needed to see the horses at the stroll; all year long I’d been waiting to see the black Percheron horses who pull the Christmas wagon every year.

As a little girl, horses were an all-consuming passion.Blog-HorseStatue1 Even long after I’d realized there would be no horse of my own from my parents, each Christmas I still asked for horse books, horse statues, rocking horse toys and stuffed horses-anything to do with horses that would allow me to feel closer to them and a part of their world. Horses possess a special magic little girls know so well.

In recent years through my hat business, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®, I’d found a way to blend my love for hats and horses by creating one-of-a-kind Derby auction hats to raise funds for retired racehorses around the country at farms like Old Friends. CreatorHat1-Web.Lg
It had all come about so naturally, and in creating these hats I felt such an amazing reconnection to horses as I fashioned a special hat to honor each one. Coming to the stroll this year seemed even more important than ever somehow. I needed to see that team of draft horses and allow myself to feel inspired by being in the presence of a real horse.

Once at the stroll I heard the horses even before I saw them as they came up the street pulling the wagon with the sound of the jingle bells Blog-Stroll2on their harnesses and the clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop of their shoes. Suddenly there they were in front of me, Jake and Dan, two perfectly matched black Percherons, aglow under the street lights, their breath like steam engines against the cold night air, decked out in full harness. To this little girl, they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. The driver beckoned my husband Tom and me to get on board for a ride; it was magical as we passed all the shops and saw the great lighted Christmas tree in the town square.

Once we got off the wagon, we stood watching the horses, with Jake and Dan snorting in the frosty air as the next passengers boarded. As they pulled away, we joined the Stroll, popping in and out of little shops, enjoying hot buttered popcorn and greeting friends and strangers with “Merry Christmas.”

One of our stops was a little antique/gift shop. The smell of candles, old wood and mulled cider greeted us as we stepped inside and looked around. Suddenly, there in a corner all by itself, we spied a golden horse with a dark chocolate saddle and bridle. BLOG-PrancerHorse1It was one of those child’s toy rocking horses on springs, just like the ones I used to ask for every year but never found underneath the tree come Christmas morning.

“Would you like it?” Tom asked with a big grin. The little girl inside me screamed, “YES!” but the practical adult responded, “How much do you think it is?” We checked and it was a bargain. Looking into the horse’s big brown eyes I could see that he was a magical Christmas horse and needed to come home with us.

Tom went to pay for our treasure and I overheard him telling the clerk so proudly, “I bought my wife a HORSE for Christmas. She’s always wanted one of her own!” I just smiled, and remembered why I loved him. I now had a horse of my own, and he was coming home with me.

Our car was parked a few blocks from the shop and we must have been quite a sight as we carried the rocking horse along Main Street, one of us in front and one in back. As we walked I decided that we’d call him “Prancer,” after the golden-colored reindeer from the movie of the same name, in celebration of the little girl in the movie who believed it was one of Santa’s own.BLOG-PrancerHorse3

And it was right at that moment that I realized a little something about my passion for horses. Maybe there isn’t just one way to “have” a horse, to play a part in their care and to let them into our lives. Those who are fortunate can indeed own a horse. But any of us can volunteer at a local rescue or buy one of their calendars to help them raise money. Or post and share the available auction horses from places like Camelot Horse Weekly on their Facebook page to help the horses find forever homes.

For me it is creating and donating Derby auction hats six months out of the year to support retired racehorses and, this year, letting someone buy me a magical rocking horse on springs for Christmas. It helped make a little girl’s dream for a horse come true.

Welcome to Hats and Horses

Welcome to Hats and Horses! My name is Sally Faith Steinmann and I am the owner and designer of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® Custom Millinery for Women. I create fancy ladies’ hats for all sorts of special occasions including the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, weddings, teas and garden parties.CorinneDer161-001B

My very earliest childhood passion was horses, but I never had one of my own. When I became a hat maker years later, many of my customers were women who attended the Kentucky Derby or the Royal Ascot races. In a wondrous yet totally unexpected trajectory, my hats were leading me full circle right back around to the horses I’d so loved as a little girl!

In recent years I discovered a way to blend my love for RapidReduxHat1for hats and horses by creating and donating Derby hats to raise funds for retired racehorses around the country. As a result I now sponsor an exclusive six month online Derby hat auction fundraiser, “Hats Off to the Horses”, with Old Friends of Kentucky to benefit their retired racehorses.
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Yet the adventure for me with hats and horses has only just begun. Through this blog, I hope to share my experiences as they happen. I hope that you will join me in the adventure as it unfolds. I look forward to your feedback and comments, and I hope to hear some of your own personal stories about hats and horses and what they mean to you.

Thank you for visiting, and I hope to be posting something again for you very soon!
Sally