DESIGNER + CEO
“I’m passionate about building a business that does things differently. My entire entrepreneurial endeavor has been driven by intuition and conviction. Inspired and motivated by creating a company model that prioritizes people and the planet first, I aim to go beyond just developing great products.”
How did you get into the world of design?
Once upon a time, I traveled to Paris with my boyfriend for my college graduation trip. Growing up in the casual, always sunny landscape of Southern California, I was incredibly drawn to the city’s more serious aesthetic and its rich history in design and fashion. While exploring one afternoon, I found a dusty fedora in a thrift shop -- sparking the idea of hats being my foot-in to the fashion industry. At the time, it was hard to find a handmade hat that was accessible and fashion-forward -- a void I knew I could fill. So, I came back to the U.S. and found a factory that does all the hand making and uses the traditional millinery techniques -- and that was the start of the Janessa Leoné brand.
Living in Paris half of the year, how has Europe influenced your designs?
My degree is in English literature, and I love stories. I love exploring the different ways people live and conduct their lives. I can be inspired by looking up an apartment window and creating a story about who could live there and what their life is like. My designs always originate with the intended purpose for the piece. The culture in Paris is so pedestrian and communal, and Europeans, in general, tend to prioritize lifestyles that balance work and relaxation. So this way of living is often reflected in what I create. I think about what the purpose is first. Travel? Commute? Leisure? Work? And then I look for ways to make functional items that can become part of someone’s every day routine. Things that are purposeful for an easier lifestyle, whether that lifestyle is on-the-go in the city, or on holiday at the beach -- I want to create pieces that will allow people to be more efficient with their time, but still look cool.
What is your favorite hat you’ve ever crafted and why?
I love our Felix straw hats. The inspiration for this hat came from a Sunday market in a small town in Provence. I purchased something with the same raffia material and fell in love with it I knew I needed to make a hat using the same woven technique. It took us a few years to find an artisan partner who could create the vision and we partnered with an incredible co-op in madagascar where the raffia palm is sustainably grown and harvested. I bring this hat on every trip and love the memory of when I first discovered the idea and also the versatility of the material- it’s easy to pack, can get wet and is a really easy shape to wear.
Why is sustainability and using only responsibly-sourced materials important to you?
My mission is to build a business that enriches the lives of my employees, artisans, the customers we serve, the communities we are a part of, and the world in which we live. I believe it is the responsibility of the private sector to be accountable for the environmental impact we have as business owners. I want to go beyond simply sustaining the status-quo, but to have a positive, measurable impact on the planet in our processes -- and ultimately I hope to raise what has become the collective standard on sustainability efforts by creating a business model where designing and making products can truly be part of the solution.
What are your top three wellness tips for summer?
Not just for summer but I think the three best things you can do for yourself with the highest return is, Sleep, Sweat, and Smile.
What is your biggest skincare concern?
I am prone to melasma and uneven skin tone.
Wearing a hat is crucial to sun protection. What Janessa Leone hat do you best recommend for summer?
Wearing a sun-protective hat provides instant cover and is one of the simplest and most effective ways to shelter your skin’s surface from harmful UV rays. Our entire range of UPF-rated hats offer incredible sun protection with a UPF of at least 40-50+. I tend to switch out styles depending on what I’m doing -- I love Vija for morning walks with my dog, and Melanie for lazy afternoons outside.
Favorite Furtuna Skin products?
This might be harder than the favorite hat question. I just got back from two weeks on the cote d'azur and my skin is needing a lot of extra moisture from being in the sun swimming for two weeks. I’m currently slathering every part of myself with the replenishing balm
and biphase moisturizing oil
. Living in France I’ve also become obsessed with micellar water
, so I can’t live without that either.
This month we have partnered with Janessa Leone to ensure your skin is properly protected and naturally soothed during the high-summer season. With any purchase of their UPF rated hats, you’ll receive our Replenishing Balm as an added gift.
Shop the UPF Edit Now