Beset by a combination of time zone changes and insomnia, I found myself awake in Paris at 2am. I couldn’t go to sleep because technically, my body was still operating half on Pacific Time and half on Eastern Time. So, throw in a flight to Paris that’s 8 hours ahead of your normal time zone, and there’s no doubt as to why I had a sleeping problem.
Luckily, instead of staring at a wall, wondering why I couldn’t sleep, I decided to be productive. Which meant booking activities for my few days in Paris.
Thumbing through Airbnb Experiences on my phone, I stopped scrolling at a rather unique title: “Craft a Souvenir hat with Lady Gaga’s Renowned hatmaker. To say that I was intrigued was an understatement. I read the workshop description and then clicked over to MiniMe’s Instagram to check out their visual story. Satisfied with my research, I booked the experience.
I am so glad I did. It was SO FUN!
First, since my hotel, Hotel du Louvre, was in the 1st Arrondissement, getting to MiniMe’s location in the 2nd Arrondissement was a quick taxi ride away. Why did I have to take a taxi? Because attempting to take an Uber in the city is a seemingly worthless endeavor.
Arriving at the location, I was a little nervous. This was my first full day in Paris. Would the class be in English and French? Would it be a nice experience? Turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
The description on the workshop page made it very clear as to where to look for the identification sign and how to access the building. Once I walked up the steps and entered the workshop, all I could say was WOW.
This was the exact creative vibe that I wanted to create and feel in Los Angeles. The fact that I was experiencing this in Paris? Delightful. Plus Marie checked to see if the French speakers in the class could understand English. After they assured her it was fine, she taught the entire class in English instead of in both English and French.
The workshop price gives you the bare basics: a standard merinos wool felt hat and the workshop to craft it into the hat style of your choice. Based on available color choices, I upgraded my hat to a deep grey selection in rabbit felt.
Next, we chose our hat block styles: Fedora, Trilby, Canotier, Por Pic or Capeline. Now, I actually have quite a large head. It’s proportionate to my body. But, it’s a big head. Typical hats don’t fit me and are too small. I was concerned that Marie wouldn’t have a hat block large enough to fit my head. Honestly, so was she. But, when I informed her of the typical way I like to wear my hats (sitting back, slightly framing my face, typical California style) she suggested a 62mm block in the Fedora top design. Since I already knew that would be the best design for my head, it was a win win.
Now, what I will say about hat making is that it’s more labor intensive than you might expect. There were points where I was VERY happy I got a cappuccino to go during breakfast, as I sipped it during the workshop to stay awake.
Even through my jet lag, I loved hammering, ironing, stretching and molding my hat to the block form. After the hard work was done, it was time to bake them in the oven, to cure their shape. While the hats baked, we chose our accoutrements of decor.
Prices of the decoration items were clearly marked. The base workshop price gave you a credit to work with. So, I chose some of my favorite items: a few feathers, buttons and ribbon. I combined, subtracted and worked with different elements of design until it intuitively felt “right” to me.
It’s here that I was reminded of one very true and very meaningful fact: In a creative space, some people will impress their opinions on you as to what they see and thing you should do. However, always remember that when it’s your money, your time and your judgement, you make the last call.
Case in point: A very well intentioned but rather pushy fellow workshop attendee kept suggesting that I add additional chain work, among other things to my hat. It got to the point where I felt she was trying to design my hat for me, instead of me being able to focus my own energy into my creative project. And I will say, her hat was great for her. It was very clearly her energy and her vibe – which turned out absolutely beautifully. However, my hat was perfect for me, just the way it was.
This reinforced the core fact that my creative path is my own. Again, other people may have opinions. That’s great – opinions are often helpful. But, too many cooks in the kitchen can also ruin a meal.
After picking out the optional lining, pinning in the lining ribbon, trimming the hat, some sewing and a little bit more, the workshop was complete.
This was absolutely worth every Euro to learn how to pound out, shape, design and customize a hat I would actually want to wear. Truly, it’s so fun to see how my life always works out for me, creativity.
I would highly, highly recommend this experience.
73 Bd de Sébastopol
Paris, France 75002