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Jennifer L. Copeland with some of the hats she has made at her millinery studio at her home in Squirrel Hill.Joe Appel | Tribune

Bronze salome fur felt fedora with silk ribbon, and feather detail

Alabaster fur velour cloche with silk ribbon, ostrich feather and pearl detail
Photo: Joe Appel

To some people the hat business is what comes naturally. And for Jennifer L. Copeland this must be the case. The young woman couldn't find the right hat a few years ago and decided to teach herself the trade.

"I learned how to make hats by looking through vintage hat books online. I kept trying until I got it right, and with each hat I got better at it," said Copeland. When asked how she did this with such ease she said she used a hat steamer and steam from an iron and began selling boutiques and now an art gallery as well.

This two-year-old company makes two collections a year, fall - winter and spring-summer. She also makes custom hats for those who want them. Copeland used to make metal vases so she is no stranger to the creative process.

"Hats sell well at the art gallery because someone who has an artistic personality might want to wear a hat," she said "The gallery owner and I were both doing a boutique event and she saw my work and wanted it for her gallery."

Copeland has this to say to people who say they are not a hat person (we hear that all the time unfortunately). "When someone says they are not a hat person it means they need to try on a hat and find the one that is right for them." We agree.

Copeland does hand blocking and creates a novel twist to headwear by making extra folds, creases, etc.


Below is the article that ran in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Squirrel Hill woman's hats top off any look

Mad as a hatter?

It's time to put an end to that cliche.

As a milliner, Jennifer L. Copeland has found success in creating women's cloches, fedoras and cocktail hats. She uses fur felts, shimmery silk ribbons and intricate feather details in her collection of toppers.

"Everyone has a different face, and so I make different hats to fit different people," says Copeland, 32, a Squirrel Hill resident. "My hats are traditional with modern detail. Hats have the ability to dress up or down an outfit. They also help create versatility in a wardrobe."

Copeland started making hats because she couldn't find any she liked to wear to synagogue. People started to notice her headwear and asked where they could get the hat she was wearing. So she started the business in September 2009.

She perused vintage sewing books for ideas and used her knowledge as an art teacher to create her line. Her recent line was inspired by the paintings of the late Edward Hopper, especially his evening scenes. Most of the work is done by hand.

Her hats are available to view online -- visit -- or in local shops such as Occasions in Squirrel Hill, Catherina in Oakmont or Carl W. Herrmann Furs and the 3G Gallery, both Downtown.

"Jennifer's hats are high quality and unique," says Nancy Stillson, Occasions owner. "They are so interesting that when customers walk in the door, they notice them. I think some people might be afraid to wear hats because they don't want to stick out, but I believe a hat finishes an outfit. It exudes confidence. Women feel good when they are wearing a hat, and hers are wonderful."

Prices range from $168 to $415. Copeland uses quality materials such as French silk veiling, ostrich feathers, long-hair fur felts, sterling-silver wire and smoky quartz. Some hats have ribbon edging.

A custom-made piece takes about three weeks. She also creates hair accessories.

"The best part of my job is when I see a satisfied customer," Copeland says, "because I love to see someone wearing my art, something I've created. I love watching a woman trying on hats because a hat reflects your mood and your personality. Trying on hats is like going through your grandma's attic. It's like playing dress-up when you were a little girl. Hats will attract attention."

Catherine Ferris, owner of Catherina, says Copeland's hats are ageless and timeless.

"They are of such high quality," says Ferris. "I love to support local artists such as Jennifer. She pays attention to detail, and her hats are adjustable to fit a wide variety of head sizes. They are understated, but very elegant. You can tell she has a passion for her work."

Yonah Demby of Squirrel Hill purchased two black hats from Copeland. One is a winter bucket-shaped hat with a bird appliqué and the other is made of straw with a bow. Demby prefers Copeland's creations because she had a hard time finding hats that fit properly.

"Jennifer is very conscientious and makes sure you are happy with the hat you've chosen," Demby says. "I kept going back because there were so many choices, it was difficult deciding on what I wanted, and Jennifer was very patient. She is very talented, and her hats are very regal and elegant."

Details: 412-254-3636 or

Tips for buying a hat

  • Start with the shape of hat you want.

  • Decide on a color. A neutral hue is a good place to start. Peruse your closet to see which colors you wear most of the time before select a color.

  • Look for a detail or details on a hat that appeal to you.

  • If you're purchasing the hat for a special occasion, either wear the outfit you're trying to coordinate with the hat, or a similar silhouette and color to get the full effect.

  • A hat should not sit too high or too low on your head and should feel comfortable on the crown of your head.

  • Your hat doesn't have to match the entire outfit. Try to find something like a color in a necklace to coordinate with a flower on the hat.

  • A hat is like a dress. You have to try on a lot before you find the right silhouette that works for you. Don't be afraid to explore.

By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

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