North County residents can purchase a hand made hat and watch the process as it happens.
Jill Courtemanche—an Encinitas resident who moved from New York City last year— opened Jill Courtemanche Millinery at 410 South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach this month.
Half of her 550-square-foot store is a studio.
“It was important for me to have a workspace in the store because I really wanted people to understand the hats are being made there, not mass produced in China,” she said. “Also, this way people get to be a part of the hat-making process. They can even choose their own fabrics and have input on the design.”
To prepare for the store's opening, the milliner created hats from her home studio in Encinitas. She moved with her husband, who works as the CEO of the Champagne Bakery’s holding company. And while she misses the New York City’s Upper East Side, she does find similarities in Encinitas.
“I certainly miss New York because there’s so much going on there all the time. I never lived on West Coast before moving here, but so far I love it,” she said. “I live in downtown Encinitas so I can walk to everything, which reminds me of New York. That’s made it easier to adjust.”
Courtemanche has made hats for the likes of Yoko Ono, Donatella Versace and Princess Mary of Denmark. Hat making is the perfect medium for her, she said.
“It’s sculptural, it’s involved—the building, creating, I enjoy that portion of it,” she said.
She expects the Del Mar Fairgrounds to be a source of business and a chance to be very creative.
“Summer hats are light and gauzy, so you can go a little crazy and do something over-the-top, like feathers," she said.
This fall, the newsboy hat is popular. Men, she said, are more specific than women when it comes to how they want their hat made.
“They’ll give me specific input like, ‘I like the crown of this hat and the brim of this other hat,’” she said. “I think that’s funny.”
Smaller hats at the store start at about $78. Fancier women’s hats range in price from $188 to $700.
For those with more interest in millinery techniques, Courtemanche offers a hands-on hat-making workshop for $85. The next one runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Prospective attendees should call (858) 876-6353 to register. Find the shop on Facebook and Twitter.
—Marlena Medford contributed to this report.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect address. It has since been updated.