Darcy Creech

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2020 /

Writer: Brenna Collins

Hat Maker + Philanthropist  \\  Spreading joy on Nantucket and beyond

Moving thirty miles out to sea over twenty years ago, Darcy Creech had a vision to open a successful hat shop tucked off of Main Street, Nantucket. Through courage and perseverance, Peter Beaton Hat Studio grew to be a renowned, timeless brand on and off island. Today, her mission has shifted toward philanthropy, serving both local and global social causes. 

“I started out as a single mom with a two-year-old son trying to figure out how to make ends meet. I made this hat to wear to a party, decorating it with flowers. Everyone was asking where I got my hat and if I could make them one. All of a sudden, I felt like there was something I could do that people wanted,” says Creech. At the time a Martha’s Vineyard resident, her hats ended up in a local Vineyard store. “The first person that came in and bought one was James Taylor for his sister. After that, I said, ‘I am going to be okay.’” 

Creech had read famed designer Halston’s biography, where he explained his claim to fame was making Jackie Kennedy’s hat for the inauguration. “I thought, there’s an election coming up. Whoever wins, I’m going to send them a hat. Bill Clinton got elected and I sent a hat with a letter to Hillary at the Governor’s Mansion. A couple of months later, I got a call from her stylist. I ended up doing a few hats for Hillary, and she wore one to the inauguration. My name was on the cover of every paper worldwide. I could not believe it,” Creech shares.

Behind the scenes, Creech was busy presenting in New York City showrooms to expand her footing. The Darcy Creech brand was acquired, thanks to a courageous pitch letter by Creech, and she was named the brand’s president. While contemplating her next business move, she felt the urge to relocate. “I thought about setting up shop on Nantucket because that is everything I want my brand to be about: worldly, yet down to earth. I came for Daffodil Weekend and found this property. My son, Peter, said, ‘Mom, we should move here’, and I said ‘why not?’ That was in 1995.” Opening up Peter Beaton Hat Studio on Nantucket meant demanding hours, but the brand became increasingly well-liked. Nestled on Federal Street, her home remains a quaint oasis amidst the bustle of downtown Nantucket. The shop is run from her home, with stacks of her exquisite, signature hats peeking through the entryway. 

After years of professional and personal conquest, Creech was compelled to switch gears and give back. Today, through Compassion International, she works to provide clean drinking water across the globe. The tall price tag of constructing a water well led her to create Hydrex Philanthropic, where she sells watches for donations to Compassion International. “We just finished bringing clean water to our tenth village. We do that every year through Hydrex,” she says. 

To support the local community, Creech created Nantucket Wheelers, a wheelchair biking program that gets senior residents outdoors and onto the bike paths. The program has four wheelchair bicycles and twenty volunteers who take senior residents out from May to October. Various island visitors have been moved by the Wheelers’ work, inspiring new locations across the nation, including Illinois, Texas, and Portland. 

Also on the island, Creech’s farm hosts “Donkeys, Cider, and Donuts” annually, welcoming over two-hundred community members to experience the donkeys’ gentleness and joy. The hope is to share her own blessings with the community, gathering together in the quiet Quidnet area. “We had 240 people come to our largest one,” she explains. “The donkeys all come up to the fence to greet everyone. They really love the people, and it is so nice to share our blessings.”

“All of this work is out of gratitude,” she notes. “There are going to be bumps in the road that were unexpected, but if you are passionate and you persevere, you will overcome it.” Today a successful designer and fervent philanthropist, there is nothing outside of Creech’s wheelhouse. After all is said and done, Darcy Creech’s impact comes down to an intention to spread her gratitude to the island community and beyond.

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Brenna Collins