Bobbie Asad was settled into a career as an engineer specializing in electrical design, but the economy had other ideas. After 30 years in that industry, Asad lost her job two years ago and she has done some creative thinking to find a new path.
She is the owner of a new specialty shop, the Mad Hatter, open this summer inside Unique Boutiques and Marketplace, located at 21 Anna Drive, Clayton. Mad Hatter specializes in hats, fascinators, teapots, teacups, teas and tea infusers. Fascinators (decorated headpieces), were revived at Prince William’s wedding last spring in London, when most ladies in attendance wore either a hat or a fascinator for the royal occasion.
Asad loves hats. She doesn’t have to wait for a royal wedding to wear one. “We carry church, vintage, Red Hat and casual hats,” she said.
Divorced and living alone, Asad wasn’t the only one out of a job. Her daughter faced a similar situation while working in New York and she moved to Fuquay-Varina to share space Asad while she looked for work.
“People don’t know what it’s like looking for a job,” she said. “Lots of people are out of work.”
If she couldn’t find something in her field, Asad decided it was time to try something new. After the first year she decided to go back to school at Wake Tech and study Construction Management. It is a two-year class and didn’t require all of her time.
“I thought about the things that I like,” she said. “I love hats and I love afternoon tea.”
Asad, a native of Chalybeate Springs, is active in the Fuquay-Varina Woman’s Club, the Holly Springs Woman’s Club and the Red Hats, a group that especially loves to wear hats.
“If it didn’t go well, I would have things that I liked,” she said. She could just keep the inventory to enjoy. “But it’s going pretty well – better than I expected.”
In September she plans to organize a social group called the Mad Hatter Tea Club that will meet once every other month to enjoy lunch at a tearoom or attend an afternoon tea, wearing their favorite hats to these events.
While she didn’t plan on the curve life took when she lost her job, Asad has faced change with grace. She said she discovered that she enjoys gardening and she is trying things that she wouldn’t have if she was still working as an engineer.
The Mad Hatter at Unique Boutiques is located at 21 Anna Drive, right off of Highway 42 between the Highway 40 and Highway 70 exits. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., closed Sunday. Call 919-720-3755 for more information.