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Meet Trailblazer Elizabeth DiGiorgio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth DiGiorgio.

Elizabeth, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was in Hong Kong when I noticed a local designers sign on a storefront next to the place we were having dim sum. I walked in and I saw the most amazing trucker hat I had ever seen. It was at that moment I decided I was going to start designing hats.

It was two months later I hosted my first hat party at my house. I invited friends and people who I thought would give me honest advice. I had a piece of paper with questions such as: What should I name my brand? How much would you buy this for? Etc.

Soon after selling out of my trucker hats, I had a friend ask me if I could make her two hats for the Kentucky Derby. I had never made a derby hat before, but I said I would do it. As I was designing the hats, I realized I not only loved making them, but I was good at it!

After the derby hats, came the snow hats. I went on TV with the snow hats and I sold out of them in 48hrs. I convinced a friend to take a few professional pictures, set up a website by myself, and kept ordering in more inventory and supplies.

I made hats on my kitchen countertop in-between working full time as a hair and makeup stylist and being a mom to my then 2-year-old, Ella. Right around the same time, my then husband lost his job and I was the breadwinner. I would work during the day at the salon, come home to make dinner for my family and when I put Ella to bed I would stay up late to work on the hats. It was and still is very busy.

I just celebrated my 2-year anniversary with Ella James Hattery. I am now working part-time as a hair/makeup stylist and working as hard as possible to make this hat dream continue to grow.

I am about to have my 3rd derby and I am already pre-planning pop ups and I hope to attend the actual Kentucky Derby this year! I am very excited about what is yet to come with Ella James Hattery.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a very interesting road. I started Ella James Hattery right when my husband lost his job. I have always put my own money into the business. Sometimes I feel like I only do hair and makeup to fund the hat business. It is feast or famine. Managing two businesses, a 4-year-old, and a now pending divorce has been very challenging.

But I am determined to be successful. I named the hat business after my daughter, Ella James because seeing the name reminds me why I work so hard. And I hope I can build the business to something she would be proud to take over someday. We have nights where we paint hats together and she loves passing out our business cards.

It is really hard for me to have to take time away from Ella to put in the business. I have had to travel, work on fashion shows, and stay up sometimes all night to make hat orders happen. There are nights she wants to just cuddle and watch a movie. So on those nights, I try to put my phone down, put the hats away and give her that time.

I think balancing being a business owner and a mother will always be hard. It is my goal to show her it is possible to work hard and also take time to have fun. My mom is a really hard worker and still is…so I think it is good to show your children the importance of good work ethic.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a hat designer/ hair and makeup stylist/and mother. I have three jobs. I have been doing hair and makeup for 12 years and I still love it. My clients keep asking me if I will stop doing hair once the hat biz is big enough. And I don’t know. I will probably need to, but for now the hair biz mixes well with the hat biz.

My dream is for Ella James Hattery to become an international brand. My goal in the next few months is to have celebrities start to wear and promote my brand. I am working on mass producing my best selling hat and will carry this hat in boutiques/stores nationwide. I have been approached by many boutiques who want to carry my hats…so now I just need to make the production side happen.

I am about to start making derby hats. I think derby hats are what I am best at. My hats have been in magazines, TV, and I can make custom orders. I have so much fun making them for my clients!

What sets me apart is my ability to make a hat for everyone. If someone cannot afford my hat, I ask them what they can afford and I find a way to make it. Or I can custom make anything. I think everyone I meet is a potential customer.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
Ask! You never get anything in life if you never ask. I have asked for sooooo many things with Ella James Hattery that I thought were way out of my network…and people usually have said yes!

Also, act like you belong until someone tells you otherwise. I was just in Vegas and I was determined to get Diplo to wear my hat. I was with a friend and I told her my plan. She was like that is impossible…how are we going to get past the security and VIP. So I said follow me. We walked right in as if we belonged. We were upright by Diplo. I did not get him to wear my hat that night, but I did get his manager’s contact and I plan to have him wearing one of my hats within a month! You have to believe in yourself and the law of attraction.


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Image Credit:
Lightbox Images, Jamie James Photography, Cos Lindstrom

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