Mattie Coleman, known as Muncie's "hat lady," owns the Towne Boutique on Walnut Street. The shop, which as been around for 45 years, sells hats, scarves and clothes. Michelle Kaufman // DN
Muncie Origins: Muncie's 'hat lady' turns talent for sewing into 45-year-old business
Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.
Mattie Coleman is known as the “hat lady” around Muncie.
"Everyone loves my hats, that’s how I got the name," Coleman said.
Coleman owns the Towne Boutique in downtown Muncie where she sells hats, scarves and clothes. The shop has been on South Walnut Street in the center of downtown for 45 years — but Coleman has been making and selling clothes for a good portion of her life, close to 65 years.
In the late 1950s, Coleman and her family moved to Muncie from Memphis, Tennessee, so her husband could find work.
“I moved here with five kids and a sewing machine,” Coleman said.
Coleman got her start sewing by making baby clothes.
“The first garment that I did was a pile of baby clothes; my mother and father came home out of the field and I was nursing, and when they got home I had cut up a sheet and made a big pile of baby clothes and I thought they were going to love me for it, but I got a good spanking for cutting up the sheets.”
Coleman did not stop there, because she knew she had a natural talent for sewing. When she was younger, her father said something that resonated with her throughout her life.
“Mattie, you are going to make a living with your hands,” he said.
Her next piece was for a man at her church.
“I made this young man’s suit. Once he went out and everyone had seen the suit that I had made for him, everybody wanted a suit. That’s how I got started,” Coleman said.
She gave a word of advice to any person wanting to go into business in the future.
“Get in church or get in some group if you're thinking about business, and let your business come from people that you have worked with before and they will pass the word on.”
Coleman did not always aspire to own a boutique, but she had a passion and a talent for sewing so she followed through with that to get her to the place she is today.
“It's something I’ve always loved to do, and I feel if you love to do something, why not make a business of it?" Coleman said.
She has used her talents to appeal to those of her church.
“My missionary from my church got me in business. Once the church people learned what I was doing, I got involved with the choir and my business’s name just started floating and started expanding," she said.
Coleman hopes to appeal more to Ball State students by offering a 20 percent discount with a student ID. She also hopes to get involved with the Black Student Association on campus so they can work together on her Black History Luncheon and fashion show.