reinventing an age-old art
originally ran in Where Women CREATE
Teressa Foglia is an entrepreneur who recently opened her first millinery shop in Industry City, Brooklyn, New York. Starting her first business just after college, she quickly grew her online following as well as her social and professional circle. Now the owner of two businesses, we catch up with her, plus hear a bit of her story and advice for hopeful entrepreneurs.
Growing up in Troy, New York, I always knew I wanted to explore the world. I was close with my entire family but it was no surprise to them that when I turned 18, I wanted to move to the West Coast.
After graduating, I switched jobs four times in a year. I was 23 when I started a social media company after I quickly realized that neither climbing the corporate ladder nor office life was for me. It was during that transitional period that I picked up my first few social media clients. My company continued to grow through word of mouth and we successfully built up an agency that worked with incredible brands all over the world.
I spent my late 20s as a digital nomad. Working and traveling to 35-plus countries, many of them alone, often wondering, “Why am I here?” “What is my true passion?” A question that I think so many of us search for—some finding it earlier than others. When my heart was broken, I took off to Europe on a one- way ticket. I allowed myself a break. It was a huge soul-searching time in my life.
It was during this time that I thought it would be fun to learn how to make the beloved hats that I wore on my head—every single day—just for fun. When my friends started to see me wearing my own designs and product, they started asking for their own as well. So, I got busy and focused more energy into a creative project that brought me happiness.
Currently, I live between the West Village and Los Angeles, but the majority of my time is spent in New York. I still have my social media business, which now has its own team of creatives and marketers to help me grow it, but I also own and operate a store and atelier in Industry City, in Brooklyn, New York. I am constantly trying to learn new skills and I always encourage others to do the same— just as I did with my career-making hats! If I could encourage budding entrepreneurs to do anything, it would be to make travel, hobbies and other activities part of your regular routine. Tasks like that are how I’ve found success in my business and discovered new loves.
When it comes to my millinery business, I try pay attention to the small details. Every hat is one-of-a- kind, whether it is made-to-measure from my ready-to-wear collection or a custom hat. I don’t believe in mass-production, so I painstakingly try to ethically source all of our materials used. We donate all scraps to a local university, have eliminated almost all plastic we use and believe in making a product that our clients will have forever.
“WE BELIEVE IN QUALITY OVER QUANTITY, HANDMADE OVER MASS-MADE, AND THAT standing out is always better than blending in.”
I tend to invest a lot of time in my social relationships with other entrepreneurs. Being able to find guidance and understanding with people who run similar businesses allows me to grow and flourish in my own. I often find advice from friends like Kaitlyn Barclay + Willow Hill of Scout Lab Creative, Emily Katz of Modern Macramé and Lindsay Zuelich of Wood Brain, three fellow women business owners who always inspire me in my own work.
Opening my space has been my biggest accomplishment. I’ve never worked in retail, and when I first started, my only hat sales were to family and friends. But I went with it! I knew this wouldn’t be a space for just making and selling hats.
Our foundation is to create a place where a community can gather to learn, to share a meal or to listen to live music—a place where anyone can feel inspired. It’s because of this community we have had such a successful first few months. When you’re starting a business or even just pursuing a new hobby or project, trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to start today, and when things are going well, don’t be afraid to take a vacation— you deserve it! Above all else, enjoy the journey!
➀ Be less afraid to fail. We learn the most from our failures, and if a project or product doesn’t work out like you’d hoped, you ideally will have learned something from the process.
➁ Have a good team. Surrounding you, cheering for you, in both your business and personal life. And cheer even louder for them!
➂ Put your all into every piece you make. It’s an extension of you!
➃ Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And accept help when it’s offered to you.
➄ Take breaks. Daily meditation is key for me.
➅ Go for it. “The right time” never comes soon enough. Go after what you want now.
➆ Take the vacation. The good life is all about balance.