Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariana Valenzuela.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Morelia Mexico and grew up in a small town named Turicato Michoacan before moving to the states.
My journey into hats started through many trial and errors. It all started when I decided to back out of medical school and start over to try and find my true passion. The thought of being some sort of artist was never a realistic venture for me. However, all my life I’ve been artistic and the thought of being in a hospital everyday was even more scary than giving my creativity a try. I also don’t like blood or any of that gory stuff, I just wasn’t made for it. When I decided to quit school I decided to moved to LA from Las Vegas where my family owned a Mexican restaurant. I got a job in retail and at a Thai restaurant and started my search. I am most definitely a college drop out and had to figure things out.
My first venture and love was footwear, I interned for Janina Casanova who taught me everything I know about design and production. I later got a corporate job in footwear production. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t working for me. There was no emotion in it. I stepped back and went back to retail while I figured it out. If I learned one thing this whole time… it is the importance of doing something you love and that fulfills you. Whatever it may be.
One day, just like many other days that I spent walking around downtown for Inspiration. I walked into an old millinery store where the owner and I talked for a while and before I left she advised I take a millinery class. So I did, I did it like when you take a pottery class or panting and wine class for fun. I just wanted to get creative again and feel inspired, not knowing I would fall completely in love with the craft. I grew obsessed with wanting to know everything I could about it.
I posted the first hat I made on Instagram and friends started asking for hats. I made them at cost for my friends so that I could learn with every hat. I said yes to everything not knowing how to do any of it. I stress a bunch but I would figure it out. It got easier every time. I also didn’t have the tools which are very expensive therefore I would improvise with things that worked. Every bit of money I got, I would reinvest it by buying a new tool. I kept working at my retail job at the Beverly center to make ends meet until I had to quit to fulfill my hat orders. It was such a scary time but I had to make that jump. It happened very organically and pure word of mouth. I would have never thought I would be doing this today but I am so happy and grateful for it. Creating gives me life and makes me happy, I don’t know where I would be without hat making. It’s saved me, it’s my zen.
I have been very blessed to have had so many friends support my craft from the start, for that I am thankful. I couldn’t be happier with where I am going and just want to keep growing my knowledge and craft.
Please tell us about your art.
I make custom order handcrafted hats. If you come in I measure you, show you color swatches, samples to try on or feel and go over what you would like. I make everything by hand. I block and shape the hat, cut the brim to desired width, add trimmings according to what we talked about and your vision is brought to life. It’s very important for me to ask questions and get to know you. That way I have a better understanding of who I’m making this hat for and for what reason. It helps me add the touching details that mean so much to them and myself. Some make a hat in memory of someone and some are just crazy hat people like me who wear hats daily. Every hat I make has a story. That story is the one they tell me and I put it all together in form of a hat.
A lot of my style inspiration with the colors I use and the stitchings on the brims come from culture. From the town I grew up in and their festivities.
The best part about it all is getting that text/message about how the hat has helped them feel. Some say more confident or special, listened to and or simply badass. They tell me its a great conversation starter as well, whatever it is… If I can make them feel something positive thats good with me. It matters to me that they feel good inside, hat or no hat. You should always feel like a beautiful badass.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
My advice for other artists is honestly to just give it try, don’t question yourself as it can hinder you from moving. You don’t have to wait until you know it all because the reality is that you will never finish learning, therefore start now. The sooner the better. You learn everything on the way by doing and making mistakes. Mistakes are learning experiences. Never compare yourself to others and move at your own speed. No one starts knowing it all and everything takes time.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to be patient with myself. I now know that everything comes with a lot of hard work, discipline, and determination. And for all of these things you need patience. Patience to keep you going and get up everyday and do the hard work even when you don’t feel like it.
Also, you’re not alone. An artist’s life can sometimes feel lonely but you’re not. I spent almost two years working in my small studio apartment next to my bed in poor lighting, alone. It can get a tad hard to get inspired. Reach out to other artists and get out there and surround yourself with other creatives it really helps.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can see my work at @florayluna and click on the link to see my website.
- Website: www.florayluna.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/florayluna
Main photo was shot by: Marlene Luciano IG: @marleneluciano; Photo of the two models/colorful by: Joey James Salehi IG: @joeyjamesphoto; Both photos of 1 single model/Brown by: July Castillo IG: @julycastlephoto.cine; Photo of me working on a hat: by Jessica Vazquez IG: @jvphotographylv; Hats photos by Ariana Valenzuela