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Making It | Barbara Feinman, Milliner

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Barbara Feinman Millinery.

Before she opened her East Village hat shop, Barbara Feinman spent twenty years working office jobs. “I was raised to be a smart Jewish girl who went to college,” she said. “Those girls aren’t supposed to use their hands.” But she burned out on white collar work, took a class at FIT, and decided to become a hat maker. After initially working out of her kitchen, she opened Barbara Feinmen Millinery at 66 East Seventh Street in June of 1998. She recently told The Local how she has managed to make it to 14 years.


What prompted you to stop working out of your kitchen and seek a proper storefront?


I got a few big orders. One from Barney’s that was a $17,000 order. That was absolutely huge in the 1990s. After that I started sharing a studio space on Ninth Street. When I got a dog and wasn’t allowed to bring my dog to work, that really bugged me since what’s the point of working for myself if I can’t work how I want? That’s when I went solo. I walked around the East Village, saw a sign and walked in. It was walking distance from my home. I grew up around here. I feel most at home here. Plus, fourteen years ago there weren’t many places I could have afforded. Read more…