Tonya’s love for hats started at a young age; finding hats in antique shops, deconstructing them and remaking them with beautiful trims was her creative outlet and a way to develop her personal style. At 35, and many years into the financial services industry, Tonya had her "career epiphany." Tonya left the hedge fund industry— and financial security- with a goal to lead a more creative life that would utilize her background in finance and love of design and accessories to launch her own business. Tonya studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to hone her skills and design aesthetic while exploring materials, sculpture, and hand sewing. Tonya won a Raymond Hudd Millinery Award for Best Collection from the school’s fashion department.
Tonya produces seasonal, bridal and Kentucky Derby couture and ready to wear collections; collaborates with clients to produce one-of-a-kind headwear; and has produced hats for the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and designer Pamella Roland for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York. Tonya was awarded Hat Life Publishing’s “Hatty Award” for contributions to millinery in 2008.
In 2007, Tonya Gross Millinery was launched in East Ukrainian Village, Chicago, IL, with a goal to: build a sustainable and profitable business; make a substantial contribution to the resurgence of hat manufacturing in the US; and to create new jobs in the fledgling Chicago fashion industry through an MIT or “milliner in training” program.
Tonya dyes her own materials, carves the hat blocks that influence the sculptural shapes within her collection, and hand-finishes each piece. Each Tonya Gross Millinery hat comes with a hatbox to help to preserve the shape and extend the life of your handmade hat.