Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

A Nicheworks interview with Joyce Allison of Hats Galore

Interviewed 2000

You need a hat for a summer wedding, where would you start looking? Forget Kendal, Carlisle or any other shopping centre - see Joyce Allison who will be able to offer you hats in a vast choice of colour, size, shape, style, texture, all on display and ready to try on with your outfit.

The choice of hiring or buying is entirely yours, Joyce's fee system allows you maximum value and flexibility. If you wish to hire the same hat for two occasions, it may be more sensible to buy it.

Joyce started Hats Galore nearly a year ago with a view to supplying local ladies and those from further afield. Although she does make a few of the hats herself, her main forte lies in adorning a basic hat with fur, feathers, flowers, and Sinamey ( a stiffened netting) in a wide range of shades and colours. She buys her basic hats in all shapes, colours and sizes from outlets such as Kangol and then scouts around searching for classic, unusual or deliciously pretty trims, nettings, feathers, silk flower sprays and other decorations.

A visit to her 'hat showroom' is a delightful experience - no pressure, helpful suggestions and honest opinions are Joyce's key customer skills. She is happy to work with a customer to achieve a perfect match between outfit and hat - and can even provide a range of clutch bags and parasols to complete the look.

If a hat is right in all aspects except being slightly on the large side, Joyce will carefully add soft foam rubber or stretchy elastic to pad the hat out, ensuring a perfect fit and all-day comfort.

Most ladies prefer to visit Joyce in person, but in cases of immobility or lack of transport, she has prepared a photograph album of most of her hats, from which customers can at least make a preliminary selection in their own homes. Great care is taken of all her hats in stock, with how they are stored, protected from dust and sunlight, and provided to the customer - in elegant hat boxes.

'Hats are back', declares Joyce, 'for weddings, christenings, graduations, Ladies Day at Carlisle or Ascot, and many of my customers are from the younger generation eager to make a statement with an elegant or striking hat'.