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Jon Narcisso

Episode 106

Self-Taught Millinery

Jon Narcisso is the founder of Jon Narcisso Millinery, a bespoke and custom hat company. Each hat is made from scratch, by hand every single day, using some of the world’s finest materials, such as Rabbits fur, Ecuadorian Paja straw, and 100x beaver. 

My journey and passion in millinery (haymaking) started back in 2012, creating custom 1 off-pieces for small boutiques and clients around the Los Angeles area. I am a self-taught milliner that developed the skill over the years through consistent practice over and over again. 

Though I was self-taught, I did my due diligence but researching and studying other hat-makers around the world. I always believed I needed to find a foundation before creating my own style and technique. 

My perspective on hatmaking is focused on symmetry, bold shape, and color. I love to express myself in the RAW, UNCUT form. That’s what makes my hats special and unique. I currently have a small studio showroom to showcase my work and to meet and build with clients.

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Jon Narcisso Quotes

  • “I was selling it out of my car. It was a red satan hat bag. I had to use handmade hats that I designed.”
  • “It was something I started from the ground up. There was no training it was something I was just interested in, and I decided to make a choice one day.” 
  • Jon grew up in the San Gabriel Valley 
  • Jon’s family immigrated from Costa Rica
  • He had some trouble with people in school but ultimately got through with his family’s support
  • Jon teaches the love of self he grew up with and his cultural identity to his son
  • After college, Jon threw himself into hat-making and sold hats out of his car.
  • After missteps, he rebranded and has found an up-and-coming success, and his hats have even been displayed on Netflix shows and celebrities. 

What is a Millinery?

Millinery makes hats by hand. The art and the design. That’s what Jon does, he makes hats by hand.

SGV-HAT-MAKER
 

Are there a lot of people who do this?

Recently there has been a slight boom, but overall it is a bit of a lost art. The only way to really get into the profession is to work with someone who has been doing it. There’s no class or course to take to learn.

Jon taught himself through reading and research.
 

What is your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

Jon lives in Pasadena and grew up there as well. His family lives there, and they call it home.
 

What was your early life like?

According to Jon, he was a typical kid. He was into sports and whatever was the hot thing when he was a kid.

Owning his own business and/ or hat-making was not something that he ever anticipated.

Job’s family immigrated from Costa Rica, and because of that, they were fairly firm in his youth.

Jon’s family were entrepreneurs, from his grandmother to his father, and that mentality trickled down the generations to him.

Jon’s son is now interested in learning about his heritage, and Jon, who was exposed to that in his youth, is teaching his son now and connecting that way.

After facing some racial discretion at school when he was growing up, his son is facing some similarities. In order to combat that, Jon and his wife are trying to teach their son to have pride in his roots and the color of his skin.

With encouragement from his family, Jon really took an attitude of pushing until you get what you want. That’s what gave him the inner courage to do his business because it’s what he wanted.
 

After school, did you go right into hat-making?

Not exactly. Jon always wore hats of different kinds, and he really liked how they exemplified his outfits. He stupidly spent all the money he had on hats.

He started by restoring old high-quality hats and would either keep them or sell them after.

During Jon’s last year of college, he went to Ecuador to see a factory where they made high-quality straw hats, and he got to talk to the producer and built a rapport with him.

So after this trip, he was all in and started learning that trade. Because Jon didn’t know how to make them himself at first, he got a small batch that he designed made from, and he sold them out of his car.

Jon has grown a lot as a business and an entrepreneur from that time since then. He lost about 15 grand because of ignorance of some business elements and had to rebrand. From selling hats that were pre-fabricated to selling handmade hats that take at least a week and a half of labor to make out of his studio and home.

Truly his hats are a labor of love that cost so much to make, and Jon doesn’t skimp on anything.

After Jon took the time to rebrand, he realized that he needed to stand out, and that’s what he really learned how to do in his youth, through college and working other jobs.
 

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