From Fascinators to Face Masks

Jennifer Hoertz shifts millinery business towards fight against COVID-19.

During this time of international pandemic, many businesses are trying to find a way to adapt to the changing times in order to preserve the vitality of their companies. Whether it be offering free delivery or providing curbside pick-up, many have been successful in remaining open; however, this luxury does not extend to all. To those companies that do more specialized work, finding consumers may be more challenging. This does not stop renowned milliner, Jennifer Hoertz, from doing what she loves while also helping the community.


Nearly twenty years ago, Hoertz, a London-born New Yorker, successfully turned her love of hats into a prosperous career. After being featured in magazines, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, People, and many more distinguished periodicals, she has gained widespread recognition for her designs and manufacturing expertise. 

Hoertz utilizes hand blocked shapes of organic wool and straw, modest vintage and modern trims, stitching and grosgrain to offer personalized hats, handcrafted for each customer. Her creations are sold internationally, in Europe and Japan, and have found their way into domestic icons including Barney’s New York. 

I began working with a group called Sew the Curve Flat. They have been organizing placements of donations and have been wonderful at providing resources for patterns and tips.”

She recently found herself in a predicament: how to continue business in a world where buying hats is far from a top priority? 

“I began working with a group called Sew the Curve Flat,” she said.  “They have been organizing placements of donations and have been wonderful at providing resources for patterns and tips.” 

Hoertz’s solution started out as an act of charity. She repurposed her fabrics to make masks for medical professionals and surrounding hospitals since the supply has decreased greatly due to this sudden uptick in its demand. As she shared the news of her contribution to the fight against COVID-19, many of her friends and clients began to ask for a few masks for their own families. Upon witnessing the success of this endeavor, and increasing need, she made her masks available to a broader range of buyers, adding them to her website’s repertoire. 

She is currently taking orders through her website. The landing page includes a pop-up tab with the option to buy or donate her masks, furthering her willingness to add to the fight against COVID-19. Each mask costs $15 and is created with 100% cotton. Covering the nose and mouth, these masks provide a barrier between the wearer and potential exposure during essential activities (For example, grocery shopping, supporting small businesses, going for walks and, for some, working.). The fabrics cannot be selected due to limited resources and high demand. She offers care instructions to ensure that the mask is used correctly and treated properly, promoting its longevity. 

It makes a difference by bringing a smile to our medical workers and makes them feel validated and supported.”

Hoertz turned an unfortunate circumstance into an opportunity to give back and protect her customers during this pandemic (in style, of course!). She is a businesswoman who is with the times and knows how to adjust in order to keep her company advancing. With no derbies, brunches, or weddings to attend, what present use could people have for her hats? Instead of closing shop and waiting for the storm to pass, she furthered her passion and took a chance. As evidenced by her recent success, the risk has clearly been worth the reward. 










“It makes a difference by bringing a smile to our medical workers and makes them feel validated and supported,” Hoertz added. “I think that selling them to others helps us to keep the medical grade masks where they belong with the medical professionals. The support from others is an outpouring of inspiring grace.”

Hoertz serves as an inspiration to many, especially me, a high school junior enrolled in my school’s business program, The L.E.O. Program (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Opportunity). Seeing a female entrepreneur use her talents and compassion to better society motivates me to do the same. When asked to analyze the effects of COVID-19 on a modern business, I immediately thought of Hoertz. In recognizing her as a role model, I have been invested in researching her and her company, becoming more enamored by her determination and selflessness. She exemplifies that in a time of darkness, there are many ways to be a light. This challenge can be applied to all of us: how can you be the calm in the storm for others during this coronavirus spread?

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