One Merchant's Story of Pride

Our West Village Goorin Bros. Hat Shop created this fantastic photo spread to help promote Pride Week in their store. We invite you to share in one merchant's retelling of the experience from a letter he wrote to us. Take it away, Blake:

I am so glad you liked the pride promotion and am happy for the chance to tell you about it.

As June approached, rainbow flags began popping up everywhere. The neighborhood around our West Village shop was buzzing in technicolor anticipation of the annual Pride celebration.

2014 marks the 45th Anniversary of both the Stonewall riots and the start of the LGBT civil rights movement.

On June 28, 1969, police raided The Stonewall Inn, a private club catering to the gay and lesbian community. Thirteen people were arrested, igniting a riot and a social revolution. This day is commemorated every year with a parade, giving members of the community and its supporters a chance to march with pride, to honor those who paved the way for future generations and to remember how far we have come. The parade here in NYC draws over one million spectators and participants. LGBT Pride is now celebrated worldwide in cities and nations across the globe.

The Stonewall Inn, on Christopher Street, is only a block from our shop in the West Village. I walk by it everyday on my way to and from work.

Thinking about this inspiring community, I wanted to do something at the shop to show support to our neighbors, customers and co-workers. The distinctive style of our hats seemed to be a good match with this rousing celebration.

I figured a photo shoot for Instagram and other social media could showcase our hats on gay and lesbian couples in a sweet, flirty and tasteful light. I would accent the hats with a few simple rainbow accessories but keep the focus on the way the hats accented the couples.

I brought this idea to Alex and Ben and they gave me the thumbs up to go for it. With enthusiasm, I designed and hand made a couple of custom rainbow hatbands and feather accessories. I called up photographer and good friend, Michael Yeshion, to shoot and I asked a few attractive friends, including my very handsome boyfriend, to model with me.

The neighborhood was our backdrop, specifically Gay Street, the front of The Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park, across the street from the Inn.

Christopher Park in Sheridan Square is famous for its Gay Liberation Monument, a sculpture created by NYC native George Segal in memory of the riots of 1969 and to honor the LGBT civil rights movement. This sculpture consists of four individual statues aligned in pairs. A pair of women sit together and a pair men stand together. These white lacquered statues have resided in Christopher Park for more than two decades and remain there today, still sitting pretty and standing tall. The sculpture exemplifies pride and perfectly fit my vision for the shoot.

In addition to the photo shoot and social media promos, I wanted to give our customers something tangible as a way to say thank you and to show that we support them--a rainbow hatpin to wear on their Goorin hats and show their pride. Alex helped me order hatpins online and we attached them to business cards to give away at the register. I decorated the shop window with rainbow accents and we celebrated Pride week with our friends, neighbors and extended Goorin family.

Many of our customers and co-workers are members of the LGBT community. Our shops are found in the heart of these communities in major cities nationwide--communities that are known for being authentic, theatrical, unique, stylish and bold. What's more Goorin than that?

Best Regards, Blake

Blake is a merchant in West Village and all-around great guy, even when he isn't selling hats. This talented, genuine and friendly person has graced our West Village shop with his presence since September of last year. We are proud to stand by our brothers and sisters in support of the LGBT community. Love is Love.

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