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How a self-taught designer built a $3 million hat business

Money. Career. Balance.

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How These Brothers Proved Mom Wrong And Built A $1.5 Billion Financial Planning Practice
Meet the 27-year-old who paid off $73K in 3.5 years
In 2013, Logan Marston graduated from James Madison University with a master’s and $73,000 in student loans. Just three-and-a-half years later, the North Carolina accountant was debt-free. “I couldn’t just sit back and watch all that money fly out the window,” says the 27-year-old, who charted a fast path out of the red after realizing how much the 10-year standard repayment plan would cost him in interest. “That fact alone was enough to throw me into panic mode.”
 
Marston says his strategy was simple: “Live humbly, minimize expenses and use extra cash to further pay down my debt.” He prioritized paying off loans in the order of highest interest rate, and took advantage of his loan providers’ incentives, getting 0.25% rate reductions for enrolling in direct-debit monthly payments. Marston also avoided short-term relief options that would result in extra interest, like deferment or forbearance.
 
Paying off his loans so quickly did mean sacrificing luxuries like shopping and traveling, not to mention milestones like getting married and buying a home. But living simply was worth every penny. “Was I more worried about keeping up with the Joneses, or attaining financial freedom? At the end of the day, it was an easy choice.”
How a self-taught designer built a $3 million hat business
Janessa Leoné was a University of San Diego graduate en route to law school when travel inspired her to change course. After finding a 1940s black fedora in Paris for just €10, Leoné noticed she shared a last name with the milliner. “I was like, oh my gosh, maybe somehow I need to go down this path,” she says. “I wanted to make something that could withstand that amount of time…still in its pristine condition and make that accessible to people at a modest price point.”

Pursuing this plan meant Leoné needed to save money. The English literature major spent two years living with her parents and nannying until she had socked away $10,000. In 2013, $2,000 went toward the first production run, to which she added hand-sewn feathers and leather trim. Another 5% sent samples to fashion editors. Two weeks later, Barney’s placed an order.
 
It’s been a perfect fit. The self-funded 30-year-old’s eponymous line now carries 24 hat varieties and handbags in 450 stores, including its own brick-and-mortar in Culver City, Calif. This year, Leoné, who landed a spot on Forbes’ 2015 30 Under 30 list, anticipates $3 million in revenue on hats costing $200 to $300. “I’m not satisfied with staying stagnant, so I’m constantly going to evolve,” she says. “I think that will always be the case for the brand.”
Looking for your dream job? Heres how to get started
Finding a job that gives you a sense of purpose isn’t easy, but it’s never too late to start looking. If you’re not sure how to get started, follow these simple steps.

Identify your core interests, passions and strengths. This will help you figure out what sort of job will really inspire you.

Write down everything you do in your current position. Make note of the tasks you enjoy and those you’d like to move off your to-do list.   

Attend networking events to glean insight from the professionals in the field you’re looking to join. In between conferences, head to the library. Biographies of individuals in your industry can be a powerful source of inspiration.
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An entrepreneur’s advice for thwarting founder burnout
When Amy Norman cofounded Little Passports nine years ago, she had no idea if her monthly subscription service for kids would even survive 12 months. Nearly a decade later, not only is Norman still in business, but she’s just as excited about her work as she was on day one. Here’s how the entrepreneur keeps burnout at arm’s length. 

Don’t forget your mission. When Norman started up, the then-30-something was eager to make an impact on the world. Today, it’s that same sense of purpose that keeps her going. “Thinking about the three million packages we have delivered—and that every package opens a child’s eyes to another culture and another way of being—is incredibly motivating.”

Look ahead. If you’re still in year one, personally delivering orders and running customer service while CEO, don’t worry—as your company grows, so will your position. “Every year, your lieutenants will take over what you did the prior year and free you up to meet the new demands of the business,” says Norman. “It’s true, and makes for an exciting environment.”

Build a team you love working with. By surrounding yourself with people who are equal parts talented, dedicated and personable, you’ll always look forward to coming into the office. “I’m lucky enough to work with a co-CEO who is my best friend,” says Norman. “It’s easier to weather the storms when you’re having fun.”
 
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