You never get a second chance to make a good one, but with the help of this ‘First Impression’ scarf, your reputation will soar beyond good to trendy, and undoubtedly, charitable.
Atlanta-based home and entertainment blogger, Cynthia Hoyt, of DarlingDownSouth.com, partnered with local, Athens artist, Hannah Betzel, to design a tasteful yet colorful print to be turned into a 100% silk twill scarf, that would also give back to the community by the pair donating 10% of the sales profits.
The scarf, named “First Impression,” an exclusive design by Betzel, features bright and cheerful abstract brush strokes in a blush and navy color palette. Hoyt began selling her product online in December 2018, which was also the time she began raising funds for Cool Girls, a nonprofit organization founded in Atlanta in 1989, dedicated to empowering Atlanta girls by breaking the cycle of poverty, low self-esteem and teen pregnancy.
The tagline for the scarf is “made for women by women, benefitting the next generation of women,” so it was an easy choice for Hoyt to decide to donate 10% of every scarf purchased to Cool Girls. “Cool Girls struck me because it is a charity that empowers young women when they may not have the people in their life to help lift them up,” said Hoyt. “I’m a huge proponent that empowering our younger generations with education, guidance, and love will help improve the communities that we live in for the long term.”
On the homepage of Cool Girls Inc., the first message you’re greeted with is one of true courage: “we inspire girls to change their world.” The organization works to develop girls into confident women through education and exposure to a broader world of opportunity.
The other easy choice in this process for Hoyt was deciding which artist was right for the project. “Hannah’s work is so beautiful and I’m constantly struck by her whimsical use of color and enjoy the different mediums she creates with,” Hoyt said of the Classic City painter. “All of her paintings have these wonderful strokes of color that are just very inviting and invigorating. Not to mention when we finally did meet in real life, she was such a doll and her personality matches her paintings: bright, fun, but refined.”
Betzel began taking college-level art lessons primarily focusing on learning the tedious craft of oil painting while being homeschooled as a child, but after her children were born, switched to acrylic on canvas, a safer and non-toxic medium for her growing family. Her style was growing as well – Betzel moved from realistic paintings to bright, abstract work. The “First Impression” design was created digitally, with Darling Down South’s color scheme prominently in mind, as well as the magnolia found around Hoyt’s website. “I wanted to create a timeless design,” Betzel said of the scarf’s print. “Something that would lighten up a winter wardrobe and carry you in to spring. And it’s printed in Atlanta, so we’re supporting local printers and artists, and helping young women in the process.”
But the idea of creating the wearable piece of fashion has been years in the making for both Betzel and Hoyt. Betzel has painted on denim jackets and designed canvas zip pouches. For Hoyt, one of her earliest memories is her mom lending her a pink silk scarf to tie in her hair for an elementary school sock-hop, and from there she was hooked. “Scarves added instant fullness and length to my short curly hair and I loved how whimsical they made my outfit feel,” said Hoyt. “Fast forward to today, I still carry that love of scarves with me every day: whether they are hanging on my handbag, wrapped around a ponytail or adorned on my neck, there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not wearing one.”
For Hoyt, content creation and marketing have become second nature with her Darling Down South website, but product design of a tangible item was new venture that turned out to be both the best and hardest part of the process. “I think product designers don’t get nearly enough credit for how intricate the process is before you are officially ready to launch … [this scarf] is a reflection of who you are in a product that you’re offering up to the public. It’s extremely vulnerable and extremely rewarding.”
Hoyt and Betzel are proud of their product, and use their social media outlets to share different ways to wear and style the scarf that has empowered and helped so many women. “From the hand rolled edges to the digital screen printing replicating the design exactly, so much thought was put into this product that makes it more unique than anything else on the market. We even went with a unique size of 21″ square so that it would be the perfect size to wrap in your hair, around your neck, or on your purse without extra fabric bunching up so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the fabric when you wear it,” said Hoyt on the distinctive aspects of her product, “At the end of the day, we’re really just truly happy to be able to express the Darling brand in a product, share it with people, and give back to young women at the same time … these young girls have a safe place to interact with each other, receive educational help, and enjoy being a kid at Cool Girls, so wherever I can support young women becoming the best versions of themselves is where I want to invest my efforts in.”
To purchase the “First Impression” and have a hand in empowering the next generation of girls, go to www.shopdarlingdownsouth.com
Hannah Betzel is a self-taught artist working out of the Five Points neighborhood of Athens, and has always been a lover of fashion and interiors. Betzel shows off her work on Instagram @hannahbetzelfineart and sells from her well-curated online store at www.hannahbetzel.com
Cynthia Hoyt can be found on Instagram @darlingdownsouth or her website www.darlingdownsouth.com as a source of inspiration on the well-enjoyed Southern lifestyle.