Accessories designer Debbie Martin turns the paintbrush over to kids for a good cause.
Debbie Martin’s Hazel & Friends line of scarves includes the Black & White Brushstroke and Square Dot designs.
After some 40 years in the fashion industry working in product development for department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman and womenswear brands such as Chico’s, Debbie Martin decided it was time to retire. Sort of. “The thought of never working again was unfathomable, so I decided a scarf collection was a great vehicle for me—it’s an accessory for every age and any season,” she says. This so-called vehicle took off at lightning speed: Launched in 2014, her chic, featherweight Debbie Martin Designs scarves are sold in nearly 100 boutiques and museum stores across the country, including the Art Museum.
Martin, who has collaborated with artists and even her husband on prints, says that her Bucks County home of 35 years has influenced countless designs. “I’ve traveled all over the globe and I still think New Hope is the most beautiful place in the world,” she shares. But Martin’s greatest source of inspiration has undoubtedly been her 8-year-old niece, Hazel, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that has left her confined to a wheelchair.
Martin used one of Hazel’s finger paintings for a scarf and an entire collection was born: The Hazel & Friends line now includes designs from other children with disabilities, with 20 percent of sales benefiting charities dedicated to genetic research and playground projects. With retirement officially on the back-burner, Martin says she’s working harder than ever. “This is mine so it never feels like work. There are so many places I can take this collection.”