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October 31, 2011  | by: Emily Longeretta

Evetta Petty Modeling One of Her Hats

Evetta Petty knows how to top things off.  As a student at FIT, Evetta Petty was falling in love with the art of designing elaborate hats. However, she had no idea that her love for hats would turn into a successful career of designing and selling her own hats out of a Harlem boutique.

After graduating FIT in 1983, Petty began working behind the scenes at fashion shows, wearing homemade hats to church and other events, and people were noticing. She decided to place a few of her designs in her family’s shop in SoHo.

As her hat collection grew, she realized she needed to commit herself full time. 25 years ago, she left her corporate fashion job and spent all her time designing hats. At this point, she was designing for friends, family, and of course, herself.

Petty's Hats

Noticing she needed more space than the Soho Emporium provided, she found her own shop in Harlem. “I gather unusual embellishments and trims from traveling,” Petty explains. “I spent three weeks in India last year looking for unusual materials and ribbons to give my hats a universal signature.”

Also traveling to Tokyo, London, Paris, and Milan, Petty finds that gathering textiles from around the world helps to create a unique look for her hats. The signature look of Evetta’s hats is big, bold, and covered with rhinestones, and the prices can reach up to $1,200.

Since the success of the “Harlem’s Heaven Hats,” these pieces have been featured in many publications, including the New York Times, NBC News, and Essence Magazine. Stars like Star Jones and Patti LaBelle have been spotted wearing these gorgeous pieces of art. They have even been featured in music videos for EMPD and Cameo.

Another of Petty's Hats

Evetta explains her hats as having rhythm, humor and whimsy. Five years ago, she expanded the store into a website. “Since we launched our website, we now ship hats all over the world to countries like England, Australia and South Africa. We create fancy head wear for the Kentucky Derby as well as Royal Ascot and other race events.”

You can visit the Harlem’s Heaven website or follow her on twitter. The store is located at 2538 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd (At W. 147th Street) and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 12PM to 6PM.

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