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Shane Walker Mad Hatter

Living in PV
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When you hear the words “Mad Hatter” what do you think of? You may instinctively think of a fictional character. A protagonist spouting out riddles and of course someone that dresses fashionably.

 

I met up with Shane Walker before his Island Life PV photo shoot on a Saturday. The protagonist of this interview now sits across from me looking voguish and elegant. Being one of his thousands of social media followers my expectations were met and he did not disappoint!

The Mad Hatter is not here to confuse me with riddles but he begins our interview with a curious look, a sexy side-eye like he knows something. Thinking about something. Perhaps he is trying to figure me out. Perhaps he is sizing me up for the perfect hat?

A year and a half ago Shane Walker said adios to Dallas Texas and arrived into the welcoming arms of our Vallarta community. 

Like many of us, Shane visited Vallarta on vacations before making the move.

{“I have always had a passion for the charm of Puerto Vallarta.

I have spent many memorable vacations here.

I always dreamed of living here in such a beautiful place doing what I love to do.” }

What did you find surprising about PV once you moved here?

I found it pleasantly surprising that Puerto Vallarta is actually a small family-like community. It doesn't take long to meet friendly people here. It’s very easy to talk to neighbors and meet new people on your daily walks down the beautiful streets.

Many people move to different zones of Vallarta during their first year here. Do you believe you found the perfect area of PV to settle down in?

When I first moved here I resided in an amazing space in Gringo Gulch.  Recently I moved into the heart of the Romantic Zone (Zona Romantica) and I am really enjoying it. I do feel it's important to check out different areas.

You brought your two dogs with you from the USA. How are they handling the climate here? 

My dogs are my children! Santos and Peppa are proud to be the national dogs of Mexico. They are called Xoloitzcuintles.  It took me forever before I could say that! Being hairless, they live for the vibrant Vallarta sun.

Shane offered a few suggestions about traveling with pets

If you are like me and you love to travel with your dogs, remember to check with the updated animal regulations online and with your local veterinarian to know the current vaccines that they will need to have upon arriving and leaving Mexico.  The requirements change every so often and it will make it so much easier to know what to do before you travel. 

Tell me about Shane Walker Mad Hatter. When did it start?

I've always had this attraction and passion for hats.  I see it as the " icing on the cake".  A hat simple or Texas-size just completes the ensemble. It's sophistication for women and men.

The first hat that I made was for Yvonne Crum in Dallas, Yvonne contacted me and asked me if I would create this masterpiece chapeau out of all live flowers. I just love a challenge and good competition. I designed it and she showcased it in the best way ever. She proudly took home the award that day at the Mad Hatter's Tea Luncheon.  This is truly my favorite event in Dallas. The Dallas socialites love to shine big at this event and it has always kept me busy creating and coming up with new ideas as it's a new theme every year.

Who were your heroes and role models growing up?

My hero growing up has always been the beautiful Dolly Parton because of her loving and big heart that she has.  I just love her bigger than life personality!  My role model growing up has always been the legendary Cher for her courage, talent, and an amazing sense of style.  She looks fabulous in anything! I feel very blessed in my life to have met them both.  It was a dream come true!

Can you tell me about a specific person that inspires you? 

Cher would be the most iconic person who has always inspired me in my daily career through her over the top costumes and beauty.

What career accomplishment makes you most proud? 

My love and passion for hat designing have been great accomplishments over the years. My special clients have won numerous awards for competing with my hat designs at The Mad Hatter's Tea in Dallas and also The Kentucky Derby.  When I see my customers so happy, I then know that it was an accomplishment and that is the best reward ever! 

Within the last year, you’ve opened a successful business here in Vallarta called Island Life PV. Can you tell me more about that?

I really enjoy designing hats here in beautiful Puerto Vallarta.  Island Life PV is influenced by tropical Puerto Vallarta. I love to wear hats here so I thought what a perfect idea to share my talent with others that love hats as much as I do!  My Island Life PV hats are Panama style for men and women.  My island-inspired creations are hand-painted, some are embellished with embroidery and adorned with different colored braids and banding.  All of my hats are handmade right here in my Puerto Vallarta art room in my home. I'm very proud to say that Arte Vivente carries many of my hats that you can try on and purchase. 

I’ve learned you have other successful businesses too. Shane Walker Design, which combines your art of hats, parties, and flowers. Tell me about your focus on flowers and your company Flower Reign. 

Flower Reign is my flower and event business that I also have and love just as much as my other businesses! My dream was always to create these intimate destination weddings here in Puerto Vallarta. That is the other reason that I moved here.

Each wedding is different and special in their own way.  It is so rewarding to see a couple so happy and glowing with smiles.  I always know that I have accomplished something at the end to see happy people. 

How do you feel your businesses contribute to Puerto Vallarta?

I feel my business contributes to Puerto Vallarta because we are surrounded by living art here.  There are many very talented artists living here in Puerto Vallarta and It's such a pleasure to be a part of the creative community. 

It makes me so happy to see all of the beautiful handmade items here. I think it's very important for all of us to support our local artists and craftsmen. 

Last year you hosted a very successful Halloween party at Encanto. Do you plan on doing it again this year? 

My first Mad Hatter's theme party in Puerto Vallarta was last year at Encanto, yes. I love this place and it was the perfect setting for such a fun gathering of hat lovers. I would like to make this an annual event each year and just make it even bigger for everyone! My plans are to bring it back again this year so be on the lookout for it.

Shane loves to get out and about town, support small businesses, and is a true lover and discoverer of Vallarta!

Shane loves to talk about the amazing store and over the top art gallery known as "Arte Vivente".  He says, “ If you have not been there, please go!  It is so incredible on every level and so much to see in one place.  We are talking more than fifty artists under one roof.  Trust me, you will leave there with something and perhaps a gift for someone else.”  

What’s your take on food and restaurants here in PV? 

Puerto Vallarta is known for its outstanding culinary.  We have so much delicious cuisine here for whatever mood you are in. I have several favorite restaurants that I enjoy going to. Cafe de Olla is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  I also love The Iguana at Casa Kimberly for a special occasion or celebration.  Pancho's Tacos is my favorite for its amazing and authentic street tacos.  If you are in the mood for a fabulous and huge margarita, go to Pipi's.  

The food is wonderful and I love the ambiance of the fun guest along with the traditional mariachi music. This is such a fun place and I take all my friends there who visit Puerto Vallarta.  No complaints so far!

What do you do to pass the time when you are not working on your hats?

Puerto Vallarta has so many amazing art galleries here to visit. There are several beautiful art galleries on Basilio Badillo that I enjoy going into. Galleria Dante is a large gallery with so many styles of art. It's a unique and special place to walk through with an enchanting courtyard and even a restaurant named, Di Vino Dante upstairs. They have outstanding wines and cuisine.

I can walk everywhere here. The local architecture is breathtaking. The beautiful bronze sculptures along the Malecon are always enjoyable to see especially when the Vallarta ocean and sunset in the background.

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most beautiful church to visit here in Puerto Vallarta.  The first time I experienced this magnificent place in person, I just couldn't believe it.  

How are you enjoying the theaters here? 

If you love shows like I do, then I highly recommend Encanto. They host many shows with so much talent.  Encanto is a remarkable and intimate place.  I saw Thirsty Burlington as "Cher" there last year and it was just amazing!

Act2Pv is also a real treat for outstanding shows and theater. They offer many choices and have multiple showings making it so easy for the guest.

What is your favorite “tourist adventure”? 

My very favorite is whale watching during the season.  This is one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences that I have ever endured here in Puerto Vallarta.  This excursion is something that I will do every year! There are boats that you can go out on with groups or you can get your own group together and charter a yacht.  Either way, you will not be disappointed. 

I also love taking a water taxi and spending a day in Yelapa.  The water is so blue and such a beautiful place to enjoy with your friends.  It's the perfect place for your picnic!

Tell me a bit about your favorite holiday here.

My very favorite holiday in Mexico is Dia De Los Muertos.    I get so inspired by this amazing and colorful celebration each year.  They really do it up big here and I love to see all the local participation and how creative our community actually gets.

  This past year I was so inspired that my idea was to be this "Los Muertos Mad Hatter".  It was months of planning but it all paid off when I proudly won the costume contest at CC Slaughters.  It was such a magical night and I was astonished to see how many people showcased their personal style through their lavish attire.

I asked Shane a few questions about where he liked to stay when he was a vacationer here in PV. Turns out even though he lives here full time, he still enjoys the occasional staycation here!

There are many amazing places to stay while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta or even if you live here and you are just looking for a getaway for the night, I prefer the smaller intimate boutique hotels and villas.  One of my favorite places is the Villa Divina Luxury Boutique.  This tucked-away place is a real gem.  The rooms are very spacious with large spa bathrooms and the views are spectacular from all the balconies and terraces.  If you choose to spend your entire time at this boutique, they have a chef waiting to prepare your next meal or afternoon snack.  The infinity pool and jacuzzi set the mood for the Vallarta sunset that you will not want to miss.

You can find Shane Walker on Facebook, Instagram, and in person at various stores and galleries. His new website is currently under construction. I got a sneak peek! It is an incredible showcase for his love of creating one of a kind Panama style hats, to his incredible wedding and party floral designs and arrangements. He truly is a unique artist.

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When our interview was over he embraced me in a "COVID-3-feet away virtual hug". Then headed for his Island Life PV photoshoot on the beach. As he walked away I couldn’t help but remember this childhood riddle:

“There is a sombrero

Or a fez that is red

What are both of these things

That are worn on your head?”

 

Karyn Green

Green Strategy ORM