Lucy Laucht, Nicole Najafi, and Johanna Peet—the founders of luxury hat brand Tio y Tia—fall into a long line of creative women influenced by time spent in the Southwestern United States.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s warm landscapes and revolutionary still lifes were painted from her adopted home in the desert of New Mexico; Delilah Montoya’s photography featured youth culture in her native Texas. When Najafi spent a month in the Mojave, she, too, walked away from the experience changed and creatively stimulated. More than just trendy headpieces, Tio y Tia’s hats are crafted with the traveler in mind—built to function as the trusty steed you’ve always wanted out on the road. Here Magazine sat down with Laucht to discuss the widening horizon.
Do you always wear a hat? What about when you travel? Why do traveling and hats go hand-in-hand?
I’m a self confessed hat hoarder and collect hats wherever I go. From Guatemalan wide-brim styles to beautiful handwoven straw from Oaxaca. But traveling with hats is a pain—you either carry it on and accidentally leave it in the overhead bin (as I have many times) or you pack it in your main luggage where it gets crumpled. One of our styles, The Gambler, is absolute genius because it packs down and retains shape. Mine has traveled from NYC to India to Australia and back, and it wears the miles very well.
When and how did you come up with the idea for Tio y Tia? What inspired the designs for Tio y Tia?
Tio y Tia is inspired by the great American Southwest and each hat is handmade by America’s oldest hat maker. The line is founded by a collective of creative women, Nicole Najafi (founder of Industry Standard NY), Johanna Peet (founder of Peet Rivko), and me. It came to life after Nicole spent a month in the Mojave Desert. She found this gorgeous stiff wool hat while thrifting and wore it to pieces. With Tio y Tia, we wanted to recreate the magic. We came together to create a line of beautiful and thoughtfully produced hats.
Tell me about where you shot the images on the site—where did you travel and why? Anything that you discovered while traveling/shooting that campaign (hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.)?
We photographed our most recent lookbook in southern Utah and Arizona. The spirit of our brand is rooted in the Southwest, so it was a pilgrimage of sorts! We started at the Amangiri in Southern Utah (the most insane place!) and road-tripped via Arcosanti to Tucson, an awesome city with which we all fell in love. In Tucson, we stayed at Object Limited—a beautifully curated home where everything in the house is shoppable. It’s such an awesome concept. Nicole scored a very nice silver soap dish!
What’s the most challenging part about designing hats?
It’s definitely a collaborative effort. We want to create styles that are an homage to the old American Southwest without appearing costume-y or too literal or out of place when worn in the city. There’s a fine line and we are careful to toe it!
What do you wear with your Tio y Tia hats?
My travel uniform includes either faded vintage Levis or the Apiece Apart Merida pant paired with an Industry Standard NY white tee—easy!
Any plans for the future of Tio y Tia?
Our desert trip was super energizing and we came away with a million ideas. Currently, we’re working on new styles and collaborations for spring and using our next lookbook shoot as an excuse for some far flung travel!