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Meet Marlene Taylor of Desert Rose Hat Co. in Ventura County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marlene Taylor.

Marlene, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been a creative person and for years, I was searching for my “thing”. In the last five years, I started to dial in what my career maybe. I knew one thing for certain. I wanted to create something that would create opportunities for marginalized people of my own community. I used to have the idea that to create change I needed to move out and far away fro my hometown. (Santa Barbara) As I healed and grew as a woman and started as family of my own the answer was clear that I need not move far away but come back to my roots. For me, this was giving back to the organizations that helped be learn my self-worth and helped grow into the mother, wife and artist that I am today. As I grappled this idea, I had yet to hone in on what would be the vehicle for such aide and change in my community. I knew whatever it was would be something made my hand. I’ve always had a deep interest in art, tactile activities and fashion. I stumbled upon millinery. I bought one Hat block with no intention to start a company. I simply thought I would be fun to try my hand at the century old practice of making hats by hand.

Then, It slowly fell into place. Hats have always been in my life front and center. My dads worn a “cowboy” almost everyday since I can remember. As I made my first hat and second third and so on, I was enveloped by the technique and patience required to complete a hat from start to finish. Slowly I realized that this was going to be my vehicle for change. It is so special and means so much to be because in a sense the entire company is a sort of ode to my father. My designs are a riff off of the hats I watched him wear my whole life. What I now called: western reinvented” Think of western hats with a modern twist.

A little more feminine and bold but leaning on creases of the past as the base of most of my styles. I’ve eluded to the change I wanted to create quite a bit; I wanted to help bring aide to families that are dealing with domestic violence. I wanted to help both the adults and children affected by this tragic cycle. It means so much too because I was once in their shoes. I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. If you’ve been following me for a while, I may have started to sound like a broken record but I don’t mind. It is my belief that people in the trenches of an abusive cycle need a glimmer of hope and light to push through all of the mud. I know I did, I was 19 years old with four years old daughter when I left my unhealthy relationship. I was lost. I didn’t have a sense of self nor did I know what was next for me.

Luckily for me, I was able to lean on the strength of my community. I found resources like Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara. They were my shining light. Finding them helped me navigate the rest of my healing and slowly we assembled an entire network of resources for myself and my four years old daughter. I was free. I have come full circle. I feel so grateful and it only the only sound thing is for me to pay it forward. Therefore Five percent of all sales help benefit Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara and CALM. I get to make beautiful things that give courage to an ordinary outfit all while giving back to help other warriors come out of this on the other end.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We Just launched this April! I had VERY different plans for our launch. It entailed a big party with lots of people lots of hugs. A big showcase for our core collection and one of a kind collection.

Obviously, that didn’t happen as everything we wanted it prohibited for the time being. We re rolling along and in a way I’m thankful. All of this madness has solidified the core values I had established early on all surrounding community.

I’m staying positive and looking forward to the future.

Please tell us about Desert Rose Hat Co.
Desert Rose Hat Co. specializes in hand made mostly western weight and Panama hats.

We (I) make hats just like a hat maker would have about 100 years ago. Using a few rudimentary tools a whole lot of elbow grease and patience. I hand stitch in every sweat band and assemble of the hat trimmings myself.

We are proud to give back to our community. For the time being as we just launched a month ago. WE are donating 5% of all sales to Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara and CALM. As we grow and flourish I would love to make a bigger impact and help more in anyway we can.

We are proud to make “High Quality goods for a Higher Purpose”.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Luckily we are in our infancy stages. We launched just one month ago. Our entire business model has been turned on its head we’ve been under stay home orders since the launch of our company. Our goal initial launch strategy was to become available to locally owned boutiques in Santa Barbara and surroundings. All of these stores have taken the largest brunt of the current situation and for the meantime, we are solely available online. Soon enough, we aim to have a well-established repertoire of stockists in our surrounding area.

If I had to start over, I’d like to have made my initial business model pandemic proof! All jokes aside, we feel lucky to launch amidst these trying times. We are experiencing growing pains much sooner than we would have otherwise dealt with at this stage in business. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s only making us stronger.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Albany Katz, @albanykatz

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