The charm and excitement radiated by Lilliput Hats begins as you approach the brightly painted facade and glance up at the vintage leaded windows. It escalates as you open the door and step inside. For a hat lover, you've just arrived in heaven!

The hats on display are enticing with their ribbons, feathers and flowers, veilings, velvets and silks. The wealth of colours and styles is amazing. The staff welcomes you to try them on.

If you venture a little further into the shop, you can watch the hats being made using the antique blocks which fill the shelves. They are made right before your eyes using techniques passed down over many years.

Karyn Gingras, an award winning designer, is the creative energy behind Lilliput Hats. Karyn has loved hats from the age of fourteen. Her interest in costume history led to a collection of vintage hats and antique hat blocks.

Several years ago, Karyn learned to make hats using the centuries old methods of steaming and stretching. She made a few for friends. Then in 1988, her passion became a business. Lilliput Hats really began to take off in 1990 when her hats were featured at Holt Renfrew and specialty boutiques in Canada and the US. She chose the name because it suggests a cottage industry with its focus on specialized, hand made pieces.

Karyn sees her hats as something between sculpture and fantasy. They are whimsical and quaint, sophisticated and bold. When you walk into the shop, the collection is breathtaking.

What drives Karyn's creativity is the special one of a kind designs. She enjoys the consulting process, helping customers express themselves through different materials and embellishments.

"Not everyone needs a custom made hat, but when you buy a hat that's hand blocked and you choose the look, that's something really special."

"The work is full of surprises and it's ever changing. At the end of the day when I lock up, I always know I've made a great choice. This is my thing."