The “it” item this spring isn’t a handbag or shoe — it’s an apron. Or at least that’s the case in Sparkman, where kitschy, vintage-inspired aprons are cropping up all over the neighborhood. The trendsetter? Jennifer Carr, the mastermind behind Hot Mama Aprons. “The original idea was inspired by Lucille Ball,” she says of her funky designs, which include combos like hot pink with zebra frills. Carr, who is a mostly self-taught seamstress, launched her line in the 2008 with one thing in mind: “I wanted to create an apron that was a marriage of frill and function.” As a mother who cooks for two growing boys, she knows the combination is hard to find. “I had this one brown apron that was like industrial strength — it was so durable, but so drab. And a friend gave me a cute little lacy apron, but it just didn’t hold up in the kitchen.” Thus, Hot Mama Aprons was born. All of her designs are made with an absorbent terry cloth, have plenty of utility pockets, and are machine washable. Carr says it’s common to see Sparkman women out in their yards wrangling kids or tending to their yards while wearing the aprons, and “if my neighbor drops in to borrow an egg or say hello, you can bet she’s wearing her Hot Mama apron.” That’s probably because “I’ve badgered them all into buying an apron,” Carr jokes, then quips that “I’m sure the women of Sparkman are sick of me … but yes, they all have them now.” Carr has expanded her line to include men’s aprons, chef hats, bibs and children’s aprons, which can be made into a matching set for a mother and her child. “If you’re going to be in the kitchen,” she says, “it’s nice to have something fun to put on that makes you feel good.”

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