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Encinitas Hat Maker Opens Store, Offers Workshop

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.

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. 

RATSJ November 28, 2012 at 07:52 AM
I didn't know hats were in style except during the Del Mar races. Personally, I think they look silly!
Beth Zellers January 26, 2013 at 06:22 PM
I have collected antique hats for years...... You (ratsj) have no idea how unique each one is..... It such a piece of art....with the possibility of marking history.... Don't judge too quickly until you see well made ones by artists
Shawn Russell April 18, 2013 at 05:04 AM
Love it! By the way, do note that if you purchase a handmade hat, do protect it with a hat carrier. I think it’s a waste that it’s no longer fashionable because I think they are the most practical things. If you asked me, schools in Australia got in right. They have kids wearing hats to protect from UV light – works way better that a sunscreen lotion – a lasts way longer too. I suppose to the young people now, hats were worn in old Western films and outdated old people, but that is so not true. I hope designers start working to make hats cool again, quite literally actually, as it does get the sun off your face and neck. http://www.hammerplastics.com
RATSJ April 18, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Hats are not in!

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