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Thursday, June 25, 2009

U.S. SOUTHWEST: Girls Just Want to Have Fun

By Kathleen Ronald
Southwest Bureau Chief
(Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah)

It's true- girls really do just want to have fun! Sorry guys, this one is for the ladies only. After having now reported for the National Networker for over a year, I must say that this networking group by far wins the prize for having the ‘fun factor’ at their meetings.

This month I'm excited to share with all the closet actresses who never get to express that zany side of themselves, The Red Hat Society. I had the great pleasure of interviewing my dear friend Teri Schindler, who was the Queen of that club for five years, and just recently passed down the crown. During her reign, she was called Queen Teri. However, she is now known as Countess Kodachrom, because she was the Red Hat that always ensured all the special moments were captured and shared over the years. Nice!

Of course I was curious how Countess Kodachrom got involved with the “purple attire and red hat” wardrobe. Teri’s friend sent her the now infamous poem "Warning," by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. This same poem was the inspiration for Sue Ellen Cooper, who is known as the Queen Mother, to take her red hat, buy another red hat, frame the poem and give it to her friend as a gift. This then turned into the next friend getting the hat and poem, and the next one and the next one. When five of Sue Ellen’s friends had hats, they came together for a celebration and of course wore their hats and purple dresses back in April of 1998 and the rest is history.

"The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next."
- Sue Ellen Cooper, Queen Mother

That poem piqued Teri’s interest and she wanted to know more about these women. She popped online to do some further investigation and found that there wasn’t a chapter in her area. So, being an outrageous, always-looking-to-have-fun kind of gal, she decided to open her own chapter and had five funtastic” friends join her. Their chapter, which is called “THat’s Us” of Morgan Hill, California, is now closed with 30 members. If you're interested, you could be the next Queen to start a group.

Teri tells me that there is only ONE rule: when the group is out in public and hosting a “red hat” event you MUST wear a red hat and a purple outfit! Certainly, this rule alone might suggest that this group is not for any one who has a resistance to either red hats or purple attire! The group is open to women approaching 50 and beyond. The gals that are close to 50 wear a pink hat and lavender attire. Once they do turn the corner and reach the BIG Five-Oh, they too get to buy some new threads. And if it is your birthday…well then you get to wear a purple hat for your celebration. Too fun!

Another unique twist to this organization is that there is a Queen’s handbook for any of you that would like to start a group in your area. Teri was telling me that one of the descriptions in the book states that you must recognize yourselves as a group of disorganized women.

To which I replied, “What? Why?

As Teri explained, what makes this group different is given that "We are all busy women, and we women can wear 50 hats during any given day and already have so much stress and structure to our everyday lives." They really didn’t want to have a group that added more rules, which can take the "fun factor" out of getting together with your sisters. In fact, Teri's club motto is "No stress, no fuss, red hats, purple dress, THat's us!" So, they dearly pride themselves on any feedback from new members that they are disorganized. Where do I sign up!?

The Red Hat Society is:

  • A global society of women approaching the age of 50 and beyond that connects and supports each other in their pursuit of fun, friendship, freedom and fulfillment. By maintaining a thriving social networking community and offering a variety of services and group experiences, the Red Hat Society revitalizes its members, helping them attain renewed confidence, pride and enthusiasm for life. .
  • Our mission is to connect like-minded women around the world and to encourage them to have fun together. We are a vivacious society of women who celebrate life. Along the way, we develop strong bonds and caring friendships--at the same time raising the respect and visibility of women who are entering their next stage in life.


  • Approximately 30,000 chapters exist in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 25 foreign countries.
  • It is estimated that each chapter averages 20-25 members.
  • The Red Hat Society is made up of a diverse network of women including working women and retirees, grandmothers, golfers, attorneys, teachers, Olympians and entertainers.
  • The Red Hat Society has licensing agreements with a dozen companies to produce quality merchandise available through the Red Hat Society Store and select retail stores throughout the United States. Product is identifiable by a tag bearing the official Red Hat Society logo.

Fun Facts:

  • 2008 was the Red Hat Society's 10th birthday, which will be celebrated all year long with 4 conventions, 2 cruises, 2 outrageous birthday parties, a parade in London and many more surprises.
  • Exalted Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper reaches more than 125,000 Red Hatters each week through the Friday Broadcast, a personal e-mail updating members with news from Hatquarters and escapades of Red Hat Society members around the world.
  • Sue Ellen Cooper also sends a personal monthly broadcast to all Queens entitled Queen To Queen. This is a communiqué for all queens to share ideas and plans and to ask questions.
  • HATS! The Musical premiered Oct. 11, 2006 at The New Denver Civic Theatre and has since launched in its fifth market.
  • Red Hat Society Day is celebrated April 25th by official chapters worldwide.

There is NO cost to join, so if you are looking to add MASSIVE fun to your life which requires a bit of red and purple, then this group is for you!

For those interested you can find more information at:

Red Hat Society "Hatquarters": 431 S. Acacia Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831

Phone: 714-738-0001 or 866-FUN-AT50 (1-866-386-2850)

Fax: 714-738-0005


Or find them online at

For more information, please visit Kathleen's TNNW Bio.

Posted to THE NATIONAL NETWORKER (TNNW). All rights reserved.

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1 comment:

RHS said...

Correction to above article.
It costs $20 USD annually to join Red Hat Society as an individual member. $39 USD annually to be a QUEEN and lead a group.

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