Obnoxious Hats by Lady Woolthief was an incredibly fun, wonderful 2-year adventure. I discovered a passion for decorating hats and spun that into a part-time business that sold hundreds of hats through events in Colorado Springs and an Etsy shop that shipped all over the world. My hats were colorful, unique creations and I was so sad to shut down my business at the end of 2018 due to the demands of my full-time job.
I still retain the name Lady Woolthief on my social media accounts, and even play her as a sheep-loving, hat-making rogue in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, but I no longer decorate and sell hats like I did in the beginning.
Still, the memories of that time are incredibly dear to me and learning how to build a business from scratch was an invaluable experience that I know will serve me well for the rest of my life.
Here’s a little glimpse into what that looked like.
To maximize nonsense purveyed, Lady Woolthief exercised the loathsome habit of writing in third person.
Lady Woolthief, once a mid-18th century sheep-stealer, now dwells in the body of a spirited millennial from Colorado Springs. Ahead of her time when it came to women’s rights, Lady Woolthief supported herself (and her sheep) by selling obnoxious hats to high society. Little Bo Peep never found out the posh, flowery bonnet she sported was crafted by the same woman who lured her sheep away every night.
In present day, most of Lady Woolthief’s hats are decorated with upcycled materials found at thrift stores, giving them a unique eclectic flare. Her most popular style of hat were tea cup top hats. Lady Woolthief loved scouring local thrift stores for interesting tea cups that would compliment the rich array of fabric, flowers, and ribbons she kept on hand in her craft studio. She also enjoyed working with customers to realize their visions of crazy hats and those ideas presented her with some awesome challenges – like how to put bowl with live fish on top of a hat. Lady Woolthief won Best Booth at Old Colorado City’s Mad Hatter Saturday – 2017. Lady Woolthief has enjoyed every moment of this adventure (except for the paralyzing twenty-four hours she spent trying to understand sales tax).
When Lady Woolthief isn’t hard at work on her hats, she can be found cuddling her sheep dogs, Lily and Luna, or brainstorming their newest couple’s cosplay with her gentleman, Lord Feldari.
During her very first event, GalaxyFest 2016, prominent body painting artist and Skin Wars contestant, Mythica von Gryffin, featured Lady Woolthief in a video blog that has been viewed over 1800 times on Mythica’s Facebook page (see above link for original video).
And now, back to Mandi…
This time in my life was so special. I had so much fun creating and selling my hats… even when it sucked. I was looking through some pictures from that time and remembered this hysterical 3-day outdoor event I signed up for due to some terrible advice from an acquaintance. It was this huge carnival sponsored by a church – totally not my demographic at all. But Adam and I still went and hung out in the booth and enjoyed ourselves… until the rain came. Oh, boy. Did it come. Adam had just left to go get us lunch, when it started to sprinkle. I kept my cool and did my best to get the hats as waterproofed as possible. By the time Adam returned with lunch, it was pouring. And it wasn’t going to stop. So Adam and I ate in the safety of the umbrella, then set about the monumental task of trying to get these delicate creations to the car without getting them wet. It was a disaster! Fortunately, only 2 of the hats got damaged, but Adam and I were soaked and muddy by the time we got home.
Another one of my favorite memories was running into an ex-boyfriend at a convention. He had dumped me for… well, let’s say “superficial” reasons. I was looking FINE in one of my Lady Woolthief costumes when he came up to my booth. It was like a scene out of a movie – he didn’t recognize me! I asked him if he was who I thought and he stared at me for a minute before stumbling out, “Mandi?!”
We made light conversation and he asked me how life was going. “That’s my one,” I said pointing at Adam who was standing a little behind me chit-chatting with a friend. Adam nodded in my direction as I pointed at him. Perfection.
It was incredible.
Dressing up for conventions and hanging out with my friends was one of my favorite parts of the business. It was exhausting moving my booth from place to place, but I always had the most incredible support from my friends, family, and Adam (when I met him – I was about 5 months into my business at that point). These are memories and experiences I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And if I forget, I have this website to remind me!
There was a wonderful, local thrift store called Wilderness Treasures that I LOVED to visit. I had the opportunity to set up a booth front and center in their store. It was just delightful moving the hats out of my basement, visiting my little spot, and getting the occasional sale! Everything about this time feels incredibly magical. Maybe it’s rose-tinged with those infamous glasses, but it was certainly something unique and special that was mine. I never made any money, but I did make enough to pay for my hobby. That was all I needed… well, that and the wonderful people who appreciated my imagination.
I was at the Renaissance Festival in 2019 waiting for my banana split, when I looked behind me and was like, “Hey! I made that hat!” The complete stranger who I said that too was like, “This?! You made this?!” Her husband and daughters had purchased it for her as a gift a couple of years prior. It meant so much to me to randomly see one of my creations just casually floating around the Renaissance Festival.
Most of all, I absolutely loved my customers and the people who asked me to think outside the box for their custom hat. I even once got asked to make a hat with bowl on top for a live fish! How nuts is that? I connected with people here at home and people across the world. I feel so fortunate and blessed that I was able to experience something so wonderful.
Click here for a gallery of some of my absolute favorite creations.