toddler in vest & hat

b&b166 DDJA Kisha Velazquez of Junior Baby Hatter

This week we have a special DDJA interview with Markisha Velazquez, founder of Junior Baby Hatter, Tiny Caps for Tiny Chaps.

Welcome to the Dead Day Job Army, a monthly Brunch & Budget series where entrepreneurs and freelancers of Color share their stories and talk about the real.
It’s not easy to start your own business and it’s even harder when it feels like you have to explain to your family what you do every time you see them, when you walk into an event and can count on one hand the PoC in the room, when you try to ask for what you’re worth, but don’t want to get passed over for the next person.
We ask folks to leave their shiny pictures and Instagram highlights at the door and tell us what it’s really like to do the work, put in the time, and devote your life to your work.

Junior Baby Hatter specializes in handcrafting Tiny Caps for Tiny Chaps, providing the perfect accessory that adds a fun and polished look to your little gentleman’s wardrobe. JBH also gives 10% of their sales to the Covenant House Mother and Child Center, where homeless mothers can seek care and education for themselves and their children. For more information on JBH and Covenant House, check out their site:

Music featured in this episode:
1). My Hat – Illustrate
2). Hats Off – The Crest
3). Hats – Katani

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Episode Highlights:

Markisha Velazquez: It’s still fun to dress [kids] up and like with the understanding that they’re gonna get messy too.

Markisha Velazquez: The best designers are the ones who are their own customers.

Markisha Velazquez: [My son] could be wearing jogging pants and a t-shirt and a little flat cap but it’s like oh! Suddenly he’s really fly.

Markisha Velazquez: [Growing up with a Jamaican mom], dressing up was a form of respect, honesty. It was a way that you show the world that you have pride in yourself and you care about yourself and also how people perceive you.

Markisha Velazquez: A lot of design programs it seems like there’s been this separation from how things are made with everything being outsourced overseas so they’re not super heavy on the technical part [actually making things.]

Markisha Velazquez: In the process of design it makes me think about a collection a little bit differently because I’m thinking kinda more in the terms of a story.

Markisha Velazquez: I’m trying to put something into it not just create a product.

Markisha Velazquez: I started off doing things on Etsy.

Markisha Velazquez: I’d be doing all this marketing stuff and I’d feel burnt out like I didn’t want to do the design part but I was like “Wait a minute, this is why I started in the first place, I gotta figure out a way to do both.”

Markisha Velazquez: It was just one of those things where once I made the conscious decision to start the business all these doors started to open up for me.

Markisha Velazquez: That’s the advantage that you have when you’re small is that you have the ability just to try things just to see…you could roll it out faster than a larger retailer.

Markisha Velazquez: [My husband] is invested into it even though it’s not his background. He’s very willing to help and learn and help the company succeed for both of us ‘cause he sees it, I think, as an opportunity for both of us to succeed, not just for me.

Markisha Velazquez: When you’re first starting off you’re gonna get a lot of advice from different people so you kinda have to be strong about like your original vision for the company.

Markisha Velazquez: It’s almost like having another kid, like they need so much attention and you’re doing night feedings and it’s they constantly need attention, but eventually, you know, they need less attention and they can play on their own and you can take them to school, so it’s kinda like that with the business too. It’s like at first you’re putting in a lot of late nights and then eventually as it matures you can kind of like let other people watch the business.

Markisha Velazquez: Seek out a community to help you, and that you can learn from, and do Masterminds and all that crazy Wooowooo! Stuff ‘cause you’ll learn a lot from other people.

Markisha Velazquez: At certain times I wanted to be more conservative with my designs ‘cause I was thinking my customers would like that, but then when I do crazy things and crazy styles people are drawn in and it gets their attention and they like it ‘cause it’s different.