Lola Ehrlich of Lola Hats has a clear knack for millinery. As soon as she opened up her first shop, she was sold out of everything. Not only that, Begdorf Goodman was begging to buy from her and she had a hat on the cover of Elle. That was in 1989, and she’s been going strong ever since. These days her studio is in Bushwick, in the GMDC building. Everything is designed and hand-made right there.
She started when she was really young. She was married, and she was kind of a kept wife – she didn’t do anything. She was living in London, at the time. She was very bored, and her husband proposed her to take some night classes.
So she took a fencing class, an archery class, and a hat-making class. She wasn’t good in fencing and archery but she was excelled in the millinery class. She was so good that she found out that she is going to be a milliner.
In a way which was not predicted, Lola’s husband died and she moved to the United States. She stopped making hats because she had to support herself. Her first job in New York was as a project designer for a craft magazine. Later she designed knitwear foa an amazing Uruguayan company that hand-spun and hand-dyed its own wool. She did textile conservation for a bit, but that was far too scientific for her taste. Then she worked as a magazine editor for a while, which gave her the opportunity to work with Patrick Demarchelier and Mario Testino. But when she turned 40 she noticed that her life dream is to be a millinery and so she deicide to make hats again.
At the beginning she rented a tiny little storefront in the East Village, which was really the happening spot at this time. She did have a full-time job up to that point, so she did only made like 6 hats. And when she opened, she sold out of them immediately. She thought she was a great success – she did sold 100% of her inventory! So she made more hats, and this is how her business started going.
More and more people started coming to the store. Stylists came to borrow hats for fashion shoots. And then designers came, asking her to make hats for their runway shows. She started feeling overwhelmed and hiring students to help her. Then Bergdorf Goodman asked her to make hats for them. It became so much work that she had to close the shop. That was the only way she could make enough hats to fill the orders.
She collaborates with designers like Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Nike, Earl Jeans and The Gap, to name a few.
Today Lola Ehrlich designs 4 collections a year, 2 for men and 2 for women. And then she do special projects for whomever asked her.