Studio Visit: Dayna Pinkham

Hat maker Dayna Pinkham graciously invited us into her studio/store front located in downtown Portland. Dayna is the only milliner operating in the city and has achieved quite the following and respect in the community. Her hats have traveled to the heads of Royalty, derby goers, Ambassadors, actors and musicians. It was fascinating to hear her talk about the process in which she chooses a block to the felting and steaming that shapes the hat to the final embellishment she adds. Dayna has the most fascinating collection of oddities that she accessorizes her hats with, from rare feathers to antique notions. The stock of hat blocks fill the wall behind her workspace from hundred year old ones that are well worn to new interesting shaped ones. The variety of resources and materials she collects allows Dayna to make unique and original headwear. Her eye for design is immaculate and the thought that goes into each hat is impressive. Dayna truly has the capability to keep such a time-honored trade relevant and inspiring! Enjoy our visit and great interview with the very talented Dayna Pinkham!


1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?

The climate. Being from the NW, I like that there are four seasons. I tried to move away, but found that I couldn't leave. Having changing seasons also works for the business. I like that I get to make hats year round for different climates.

2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

There is a great energy and enthusiasm in Portland that is contagious. Recently, there has been an increase of manufacturing companies that have opened up that do small production work. People like Bespoke Accessories Group, Spooltown, AVX, and Portland Garment Factory. All these business that are here to help us be creative and keep it local. I love that.

3. What has been your biggest obstacle?

Capital! I am in niche market and it has been difficult to become viable. It took me over 15 years to really get a foothold.

4. What or who inspires your design?

Too many things inspire the designs.  It’s everything really: color, shapes, blocks. I find the inspiration everywhere.

5. What are your favorite things about Portland?

I love the sense of community, the mountains, the food, the surf, the music, the walkability. It just feels right; it’s home.

6. What is your favorite part of your studio?

Where it all begins: the blocking station.

7. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

In the new storefront location downtown, I enjoy the big open windows.  I love to watch the weather and the passers by.  Also, the fact that people can stop by, say hi, shop for a hat. After 12 years of being inside Morgan’s Alley, it’s nice to be more out in the open.

8. Tell us two truths and a lie!

My father was a Magician, my mother was an Contortionist and I can ride a unicycle.

9. 5 things you can’t live without.

My dog, my family, my friends, my hands and a sense of humor.