Bonnets aren't just for Easter, and that's turned out to be a good thing for Mary Patrick and her daughter, Janie Brooks McQueen.
The family duo's Beaufort-based company, Susu and John, has made quite an entrance onto the fashion scene since opening for business in April. The company's traditional handmade baby bonnets already have been featured in the trendy fashion e-newsletter DailyCandy (www.dailycandy.com) and have even made their way inside baby swag bags given to celebrity moms Sarah Jessica Parker and Tori Spelling.
Longtime Beaufort resident Patrick and McQueen, who grew up in Beaufort, are pleased with Susu and John's progress and popularity. The company is named after McQueen's twin babies, Susu -- short for Sophia Susannah -- and John.
McQueen says her mother has a flair for fashion and is the real brainchild of the operation.
"She's just a wonderful seamstress," McQueen said of her mother, who has been sewing for her children, mother and grandchildren for the past 45 years.
About six years ago, Patrick came across an envelope that contained the pattern for a bonnet that a friend of her mother's gave her almost 45 years earlier. After finding the pattern, she decided to make bonnets for a friend who had twins. Her friend thought they were fabulous.
So when Patrick's own daughter had twin babies eight months ago, she surprised her with a bonnet for her granddaughter, Susu.
"She was so thrilled," Patrick said of her daughter's reaction. That's when McQueen suggested her mother make the bonnets and sell them.
Now, just a few months later, the bonnets are being sold online and in boutiques in Atlanta, where McQueen lives with her husband and four children.
The bonnets, including the original gingham style and the new Sassy Susu line made with designer fabrics and bright colors, have detachable brims and button-on crowns that can be mixed and matched with other styles to create different looks.
And just as McQueen says the company's recent success is because of her mother's talent, Patrick credits her daughter with being the one to get the product sold. McQueen used her background in journalism, publishing and marketing to market the company.
"It's real hard to make something yourself and tell people how great you think it is," Patrick said. "But it's flattering for you to make something and for your daughter to think it's great."
The two are happy and somewhat surprised so many people like the bonnets.
"We were worried," Patrick said, "whether or not people would like the bonnets. But people love the bonnets, and now our concern is keeping up with making them."