Founder and CEO Belinda C. Roberts on The Hat Divas Society Inc.
Why we exist: The purpose is to encourage the love and joy of wearing hats by its members, not only as an expression of beautiful fashion but also to the dedication of enjoyment, fellowship, creativity, culture, co-hosting fundraising events for charity and community service.
Motto: "If you're lucky enough to be a Hat Diva, you are lucky enough!" Also, "One hat can change your life forever!"
What we do: Our activities are numerous, such as: The Hat Divas Society hosts a luncheon once a month at a different local restaurant. We have hired an excursion coach and gone on trips for tours, shopping for hats and cultural activities. We attend, walk and volunteer with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We have helped raise $5,000 to donate to the Tricounty Family Ministries. Hat Divas received 155 hats to decorate and donate to the children from Camp Happy Days last summer for them to wear to a Pigtucky Derby Day. Our Hat Divas just sponsored at Moultrie Park an Easter egg hunt and an egg roll race with an Easter Bunny giving out candy to all of the children who participated in this free event. This was to promote Kids Kickin' Cancer and Camp Happy Days.
Beginnings: The Hat Divas Society got started when several women and myself were involved with another hat organization, and we decided we wanted more freedom to wear the hats and clothing colors that we wanted. ... The Hat Divas Society are actually celebrating our third year anniversary, which coincides with Kentucky Derby Day.
Number of members: We have 65 members and associate members in the Hat Divas Society. ... We have associate members who may not reside in the Charleston area, but love being able to say that they are a member of Charleston's premier hat club, "Hat Divas Society Inc." — being able to say this is a real feather in their hat.
Who can join: I encourage all civic-minded women who share our love of wearing hats or hat bands (which I create) who wish to lend a hand up to our wonderful Charleston community while becoming involved with the friendliest kind-hearted women that you will ever meet!
Benefits: The benefits to being a member of Hat Divas Society is that you receive a newsletter each month informing you of Hat Diva events. ... We attend a luncheon each month at a local restaurant and give out Diva door prizes.
I host a free hat-decorating class once or twice a year. I give tips on how to protect your hats and repair them if needed. We have anniversary celebrations; we go on excursions to nearby cities where we tour, lunch, shop for hats, of course, and just have fun and camaraderie. We went on the Spirit of Charleston Dinner Cruise ship last fall and had a fabulous time. Being a member of Hat Divas means we are styling for charity, gaining new friendships and having fun all while being civic-minded.
What makes your group different from the other hat groups in town? What makes our Hat Divas Society different from the other hat groups in town is that Hat Divas is the only nonprofit hat club incorporated in the state of South Carolina.
Cost: $25 annually.
For more info: 330-1395, firstname.lastname@example.org and soon a Web site, hatdivas.org.
On hats ...
How does wearing a hat make you feel? Wearing a hat helps give me confidence, makes me feel elegantly attired and totally dressed for the occasion. Hearing the compliments from wearing hats does wonders for anyone's self-esteem.
What is your favorite hat? My favorite hat is one that I created several years ago after seeing the movie "My Fair Lady." I actually re-created the hat after studying the picture to match a suit I was going to wear to an event. This hat was just like the one Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie when she attended the Derby race. I have plans to attend the Kentucky Derby race next year, and I will wear this special hat!
What is the most memorable comment you've received while wearing a hat? The most memorable comment I have received while wearing a hat is the one I received ... during my husband's annual Porter Military reunion from a woman that said, "I attend every year just to see your hat!"
Describe your earliest hat memory. My earliest hat memory is from my childhood at age 7, when my mother purchased my entire Easter ensemble complete with a darling hat to match my dress, and I had a huge Easter rabbit to match. That must have done it for me!
When and why did you start wearing hats? I was always fascinated as a child when I saw women wearing hats because they looked so elegant and mysterious to me. When I became an adult, I began my collection of hats. I look everywhere I go to find another treasure to add to my collection.
I also create my own hats when I need a special one for a suit or occasion. I was fortunate to be selected as milliner of the year for 2005 on www.millinery.info.
Will you wear a hat on Derby Day? Yes, absolutely! Wherever I go, you can be sure I will wear one that day!
The purpose of a hat is ... for obvious medical reasons — to help protect against skin cancer, to enhance your attire for any event as one can wear day hats and in the evening small fascinators or cocktail hats, so like the saying goes, "Never leave home without it!" They are a definite conversation piece.