Louisville woman still designing personalized hats at Dee's afte - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville woman still designing personalized hats at Dee's after 40 years

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Earline Plance knows a thing or two about hats.

The 82-year-old has worked at Dee's for 40 years and started making hats as decorations for doors and walls. Then, customers started asking for hats they could wear. Earline now works only a few hours a day, a couple days a week. And, she has customers who come looking for her this time each year.

Earline designs hats; someone else puts them together, and in the design process, you can count on Earline's honest opinion. Her advice: choose a hat that's comfortable and build from there. Earline says her hats are conservative; she loves soft flowers, krenilin, and feathers. "Feathers are fun!" Earline laughs.

But, what she loves most, says Earline, "Just having the customer come in and say, 'Everybody loved my hat. People stopped me while I was walking along and asked where I got it.' Things like that. To know that it has made their day, made them happy."

Each hat is personal and sometimes has a much deeper meaning--for the wearer and for the designer. "They'll tell me they are a survivor of breast cancer, and they're going to be in the parade," Earline explains. "I'm also a survivor--32 years--and I have a special feeling with people like that, just a closeness. I always feel like I want their hat to be very, very special for them."

Earline says her hands aren't as steady as they used to be, but the work keeps her arthritis in check. And while it's fun, she reminds me it's still work. "It can be stressful," she says, "because you're trying so hard to make all the customers happy. We want them to have the hat that they love and feel great wearing."

Earline has never been to the Kentucky Derby and has no plans to go; she doesn't like crowds. But, you can rest assured she'll be watching from home, watching the hats.

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