Local businesswoman finds niche for moms and daughters
Tanya Henson, owner of The Hat Chic in Owatonna, never knew that she would become known as ‘The Hat Chic’, ‘The Hat lady’ or ‘The Hat Girl.’
Henson, originally from New Mexico, attended New Mexico State University and graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising and textile science. However, she did not go right into the fashion industry. Instead she spent six years working for a winery and two years as a pharmaceutical representative.
Fourteen years ago she came to Minnesota after her husband, Garret, was transferred to the Viracon office in Owatonna. Shortly after the move she became pregnant with her first son and became a stay-at-home mom.
It all started out when Henson wanted to wear something cute to show her support for her sons at their sporting events.
“I wanted a hat so I went to find something cute and bottom line I couldn’t find it, and no one was really interested in getting it for me, so I sat down at my kitchen table and I put one together,” Henson said. “I wore it to an athletic event and some of the moms asked if I would make them one. Little by little it just kept growing, people told their friends and it took on a life of its own.”
For two years Henson ran the business out of her house, but it kept on taking over rooms in her house… first the kitchen, then the dining room and then the office. She decided to try out a pop up store on two occasions; first for the week of homecoming and again during the Christmas season.
After having big success, Henson decided to try a storefront out for a year and the store’s doors officially opened on Feb. 4, 2014.
“I have boys so this is my girly outlet and the creative outlet is fantastic for me,” Henson said. “I absolutely love being able to make something, but it is also the girly side to where I can create stuff, make it sparkly, pretty and have pink things.”
Although the business started out with hats, it has now expanded to include t-shirts, sweatshirts, headbands, jewelry, bows, scarves, quilts, bridal and other special occasion apparel.
“What I have tried to do is to bring it all under one roof so that if you want a hat, a shirt, a sweat shirt and some jewelry you have a way to put it all together here instead of just happening upon it one day,” Henson said. “Traditionally in stores that do exist it’s a man’s cut, it’s a man’s shirt, and you figure out what size fits you and for some people that works out great, but what I am finding for a lot of women they want something curtailed to them.”
Henson says she enjoys making items to show school spirit for the camaraderie it forms. “It is really cool because no matter what we are all there for the same reason, we want our team to win. It is so sad when you go into a gym where you walk in, and you don’t know who is rooting for who, there is nothing on them that indicates who the team is,” she said.
Even though the store is only open from Wednesday through Saturday, Henson works on items every day, even if she is not at the store. She said the biggest challenge has been finding enough time to get everything done, yet still be able to experiment with new ideas that she has.