We are Gwendolyne Preboy and William S Brown. Our story began in our late teens when we both attended Arts Sake an alternative Art School in Toronto. It was a rich environment which encouraged us to discover and push our boundaries. William was a creative force to be beguiled and we dated briefly in that year.
After finishing Arts Sake in 1980 I moved to a remote small village on east coast of Ungava Bay in Nunavik, Quebec called Kangiqsualujjuaq. Here my friends taught me Inuit sewing and I fell in love with the art of the hand stitch. All by hand, I sewed seal skin boots and mitts, embellishing them with bead work and embroidery. My biggest project was making a 12 person traditional round Inuit canvas tent. Constructed with french seams and sewn with a hand crank sewing machine. My 2 years in the north enriched me in so many ways.
Returning to Toronto I sculpted and created masks. The masks became my partial funding for university where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science. It was during these the last years of University I met William and we fell in love together.
BEHIND THE LABEL
The original logo for Gwendolyne Hats came from a wall mask series I created in the early 1980s. The double face design is a representation of positive and negative. Look carefully and you can see the top face profile has a jolly smile. Turn the label upside down, the face profile has a scowl. When placed and sewn this label always has the positive profile is looking forward.
One of my life mantras is to live in the present everyday, visualizing the positive and releasing the negative.
In the first 5 years of Gwendolyne Hats one can find the white label sewn into the hats. The black label followed and then in 2010 the logo label which is on the right was added.
Coming from the arts, my design approach reflects the philosophy of top quality, individuality and true value. The pleasure of working with the finest materials, and bringing individual detail to each creation has allowed Gwendolyne Hats to flourish for over two decades. My handmade unique creations have always been made with one person in mind.
In 1985 when we met for a second date, our fates were sealed. Sharing your life with another who inspires and supports the creative journey is truly a gift. William joined Gwendolyne Hats in 1995 and spear headed the business marketing. Always at my side, his wise ways and ideas allowed Gwendolyne Hats to be showcased in the marketplace in a colourful creative way.
To live and work with your life partner means your relationship has the opportunity to grow deep roots. Riding on our bicycles each day to our idyllic southern lite studio over looking a 3,000 foot roof garden was a dream job for the two of us.
In 2012 we decided it was time a for big change and we closed our shop and studio in the 401 Richmond building.
Every person is unique. When I look at someone's face from a far or close up their individual beauty is seen. Our faces are our communication. It is an honour for me to design a frame for someones face whether it for shelter or for celebration.
I'm self taught. I've learned my trade by trial and error and I am not afraid of making mistakes. It is discovery that opens us to see what works.