Q&A with HeadCandi's Britni Knable
Derby is upon us, but it will be unlike any other. The blasted Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused a change of dates, from the second Saturday in May to September 5th, but it has forced the race to proceed with no fans in the stands. However, Derby is more than just one race on one day, it is a whole season, and the number of people directly and indirectly contributing to all of the events tied to it is remarkable. One of these people is Britni Knable, a milliner, who owns HeadCandi. She fashions custom hats for folks from all over and her busiest time of the year comes during the Kentucky Derby. We reached out to her to see how her business has been affected as well as what she has done to survive these turbulent times. Below is our conversation:
Q How did you get started in millinery?
A I went to school for fashion design and when I moved to Chicago my 1st job was for a milliner on Michigan Avenue! I fell in love with the art of hat making and decided to focus on that in school!! And it was just perfect that I was from Louisville area!!
After school I moved to NYC and worked for a milliner there!! When I moved home I continued to work on my business HeadCandi and grow that! I started while in college and would fly home on the weekend to do trunk shows during season! I was a buyer & a manager for two boutiques until January of 2018 when I then decided to open my own special occasion boutique, House of K Boutique.
Q Who are some famous people who have worn your hats?
A I have designed for many many amazing news anchors & radio in Louisville & Lexington!! Lots of bloggers: Lou What Wear, A Southern Drawl, Atlantic Pacific & more!!
Big names you might know from country radio are Caroline & Luke Bryan, and Jo Dee Messina when she sang the national anthem!
Q Derby season is obviously a huge money maker for you. How has Covid impacted your business?
A My two biggest seasons are prom and Derby so both of my businesses were affected tremendously. I honestly was in more of a shock that both of my businesses were not going to technically have a real season. When they rescheduled Derby, I knew that we would be OK but it wouldn’t be like how it is normally.
Q We heard you have begun making masks. How has that process been for you?
A When both seasons were canceled/rescheduled I had to figure out something else to do to supplement the income. It’s all about how you adapt in your business right now in order to make it!! I am lucky that my brick-and-mortar store is in a Main Street Downtown location. When quarantine was lifted everyone was excited to get out, but I still wanted to social distance so a downtown setting was perfect! I started making masks out of my store and it was a great way for people to come in and support small business while also purchasing the new necessity of life! It’s been a lot of work but I am here for it!!
Q How can people order masks from you?
Q What lessons have you learned during this difficult time?
A We have learned so much during this time!! One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is the importance of having a strong community that supports you! I am part of a Main Street organization and they have been very supportive during this time! Our community has continued coming out to support us!! I’ve learned a lot of stuff on the business side of things, too, when you have to be the business boss! Not my favorite part!
Q How are you feeling about everything today?
A Honestly with it being Oaks today I thought I would be OK, but I’m kind of emotional. It just makes me so upset for everyone who makes their livelihood through this one event of the year and now it’s not all happening. It trickles down to the people who sell barbecue on the side of the street, to the small designers just starting out, to the boutiques, to the restaurant industry, to the transportation industry, even plumbers and the people who repave the asphalt for Churchill Downs. These people depend on this event to provide for their family or maybe to pay for their college education. It’s just not all about betting on horse racing; there’s so much more that involves peoples' lives and how they function with one major event that lasts more than just one day out of the year.
Photos courtesy of HeadCandi