Wednesday, June 19, 2013

You know me, Facebook

Facebook ads targeting me with my own products on! This is fantastic.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tonya Gross Millinery Emerging Designer Boutique on is now open

I am so thrilled to share: has opened the Tonya Gross Millinery Emerging Designer Boutique and is now featuring Tonya Gross Millinery hats online.  Thank you to friends and family and!

Kurt of Heyman Talent Louisville wearing the Damian Cap from the Tonya Gross Millinery CAPSule Collection for at the Original Makers Club and Farmington Foundation's Derby Breakfast, Farmington Historic Plantation, Louisville, KY

millinery, Kentucky Derby, Louisville,, Emerging Designer Program, tonya gross millinery, hats, men, women

Thursday, May 2, 2013

the derby...oh, and tonya gross millinery hat collection for is now live!

I am thrilled to announce that my hat collection for is now available here! 

In October of 2012, I was selected for the Emerging Designer Program.  It's been a long 6 months of planning and executing my first collection for such a large online retailer.  I made mistakes and learned a lot along the way.  I have created this collection of special event and everyday hats for men and women in a range of price points and colors inspired by my favorite time of year...SUMMER!  My favorite features of the hats from this collection?  Each hat is hand-finished and has an internal sizable millinery grosgrain band to create a unique fit for each customer. 

I am in Louisville, Kentucky writing this post, in between Kentucky Derby-themed events sponsored by Josh Meredith of the Original Makers Club and Garden and Gun at the spectacular Farmington Historic Plantation.  What wonderful hosts!  As a Midwestern girl with a passion for hats and hat making, I feel so welcome here in Louisville.  The hats and I have received such a warm reception and feel so comfortable letting my freak flag fly with my sculptural head wear.  Thank you, Louisville.  Thank you to the buyers and the wonderful employees at  What an amazing week.  We did it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thank You IndieGoGo Campaign Supporters!

I started early in fashion!  That's me on the right, in the turban and sunglasses, with my little brother in front of me.  I still have those little girl dreams and would like to thank the following for supporting my IndieGoGo campaign to fund my first collection for DAYS to GoGo:
C. Ahart
C. Devin
T. Ebersole
J. Hammell
S. Navarro
G. Plooster
K. Richardson
C. Schilder
B. Ward

Thank you!

+Tonya Gross 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Wear a Headscarf; World Hijab Day

Friday, 1 February 2013 is the first annual World Hijab Day.  A hijab is the headscarf worn by Muslim women, often a veil that covers the face except for the eyes, customarily worn in order to maintain standards of modesty.  

From BBC News:  "For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and divisiveness. It's a visible target that often bears the brunt of a larger debate about Islam in the West.  World Hijab Day is designed to counteract these controversies. It encourages non-Muslim women (or even Muslim women who do not ordinarily wear one) to don the hijab and experience what it's like to do so, as part of a bid to foster better understanding."  Read more about World Hijab Day on BBC News here.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the hijab and the Muslim women who wear them as well as for me, as head wear designer, to demonstrate a way to wear a beautiful headscarf.  No religion here, just pretty scarves.  There are so many ways to wear headscarves and this is one of my favorites:

- I like to use a large square scarf about 3' x 3'
- fold it into a triangle
- drape the long side of the triangle across your forehead with the tail of the triangle at the back of your head
- grab the two long ends and wrap around your head as many times as necessary and tuck the ends into the layers
- tuck the point of the triangle at the back of your head over the layers to secure (or add a brooch)!
- an alternative finish is to create a rosette, as shown in this image from, low at the neckline.  lovely!

And check out designer, Rabia Z, and her video, for ways to create beautiful, more traditional styles, with the hijab!

+Rabia Z
+Tonya Gross Millinery
+World Hijab Day

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tonya Gross Millinery crowd funding campaign 2.0 oh, here we GOGO

Yes, I tried and failed to make my goal to fund my collection for online retailer via crowd funding site Kickstarter.   I had to launch the campaign during the holidays-- bad timing on my part-- but it couldn't be helped.  Kickstarter was an all or nothing platform, so while I did raise funds, I got nothing.  I have initiated a new campaign on Indiegogo and ask again for your support to fund my debut collection for  The good news:  I did secure a relationship with a shipping vendor that will significantly lower my overhead (and have lowered my goal accordingly) and regardless of whether I make my goal, the funds raised will go to my collection for!

The perks still apply:  Make a contribution starting at the $75 level, you get a hand-finished hat from my collection!  Bespoke head wear offered at the $500 level!

I understand that not everyone wants to or can afford to make a contribution.  I completely understand and I thank you anyway for your kind words of encouragement with a request to please FORWARD this campaign on to others.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!  

+Tonya Gross Millinery

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Model (and unofficial tonya gross millinery brand ambassador) Carol Lee!

Carol Lee, wearing a hat from my Kentucky Derby Collection

One of my goals for 2013 is to feature some of the many talented professionals I have the good fortune of working with as an accessories designer.  This is post #1! 

This image of model Carol Lee became synonymous with my brand in 2012 and no doubt you have seen her in one of my many posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as the face of my Kickstarter campaign and in the marketing associated with my new partnership with  I want to take a moment to introduce you to- and thank- this exceptional woman!  

Carol is a multi-talented editorial and promotional model and  full-time nursing student based in Louisville.  I met Carol on Model Mayhem, and cast her for a shoot and modeling at the opening reception at our 21c Museum Hotel Derby Pop-Up Shop in Louisville.  We had a blast and created these lovely images.  Thank you, Carol!

No doubt you will be seeing more of her soon; Carol was recently crowned Miss Kentucky International and will also be featured in the 139th Kentucky Derby marketing campaign!  

Image of Carol Lee by Andrew Kung Photography

Cannot wait to get back to Louisville for Derby again this year and for the opportunity to work with Carol and the amazing Andrew Kung Photography!   Please stay tuned for more details about my partnerships with other fabulous US-based milliners for our upcoming Kentucky Derby hat road show in March-April-May!

Carol does not work with an agency but can be booked directly by visiting her blog.  Thank you!

+Fashion at the Races
+Carol Lee
+Drew Kung

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."

5 days and $8630 to go on my Kickstarter Project:  "Tonya Gross Millinery Hat Collection for"

Was thinking of standing in front of the offices of my former employer, Citadel Investment Group, with a sign that reads:
Too much?  Probably, especially if I get arrested!  I never would have imagined asking friends, family and complete strangers to support this project.  I have become ok with this because I absolutely need to meet my goal.

"It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."  From the film, Million Dollar Baby.  Thankfully, you see that dream too.  Thank you for your support!

+Citadel Investment Group
+Kinzie Industrial Corridor
+Tonya Gross Millinery
+Hedge Funds 
+いいね!+1 キックスターター ( Like!+1 KickStarter ) 
+Kickstarter Unofficial Page 

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Hats for Kickstarter Project is LIVE! My Manifesto to the Blogosphere

my project.
My Kickstarter project ends 11 January 2013 and I am asking for your help by supporting the Tonya Gross Millinery Hat Collection for Kickstarter Project here:

my story.
I am a Chicago-based designer, recently selected by online retailer for its 2013 Emerging Designer Program.  Beginning March 2013, my hat collection will be sold and prominently featured by  I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this collection for, and appealing to the blogosphere to help me draw attention to this new partnership with and my Kickstarter project.

my goal.
This is a dream I have worked towards since leaving Chicago-based hedge fund, Citadel Investment Group.  Yes, from hedge fund to head wear! 
Hat on Regina Taylor by Tonya Gross Millinery
Regina Taylor, Chicago Magazine's 2012 Chicagoan of the Year, wearing Tonya Gross Millinery hat
"The opportunity to present my line of hats to such an esteemed buying team, and for my product to be seen by millions of’s customers, is a boon for my hat business and welcomed attention for the US hat industry. This is a unique venture in that I will produce handmade, ready-to-wear hats for a large volume online retailer that are locally produced and plan to hire a talented pool of pattern makers, stitchers, and design assistants drawn from the Chicago fashion industry; I am really proud of this.  But, I need your help to produce this collection and have launched a Kickstarter project to help fund this collection for"

new training programs and jobs with a manufacturing start-up in Chicago.
I believe this is significant to the Chicago fashion community for a number of reasons:  
  • By producing this collection for, I am essentially productionizing couture and ready-to-wear head wear that will be made exclusively in Chicago.
  • My hope is to carry on the tradition of millinery in Chicago, much like BesBen, Raymond Hudd and Mr John before me, employ talented individuals drawn from the Chicago fashion industry, train them in traditional millinery methods, and produce locally.  
  • This is about a large online retailer taking a chance on a small business, rather than importing from a business that mass-produces outside of the US, and also bringing quality couture and ready-to-wear head wear en masse, online.  
  • And, yes, absolutely thrilled for the opportunities this affords me and my business with this distinction (and the US head wear industry!) as a Emerging Designer.   
The press release for my new partnership with on PRWeb:


+Citadel Investment Group
+Tonya Gross Millinery
+Kinzie Industrial Corridor
+Near West Side Chicago
+Chicago magazine 
+Chicago Mayor's Office