Vanilla Beane is one of the WOCAA – Women of Color and Accomplishment. WOCAA is a book in progress of my paintings and brief bios of Black women in American history. These are women who have accomplished much despite often facing discrimination or challenging backgrounds.
Vanilla Beane 1919 –
Vanilla Powell Beane, affectionately known as Washington, D.C.’s “hat lady,” turned 100 in 2019 and is still custom-making hats. She moved to DC and found work as an elevator operator in a building that housed the Washington Millinery & Supply Company. The shop is where Beane would frequent to browse the hats and buy materials. She finally got a job with there as a supply clerk. The dream of owning her own business became a reality in 1979 when the owner sold his line of millinery supplies to her upon his retirement.
Beane was the hat maker for the late civil rights icon Dr. Dorothy Height, who would pick up dresses from the Black-owned boutique next door and come over to Bené Millinery to find a hat to match.