Long before she founded Cat and Bonnet, Ekaterina Molina knew that the pursuit of beauty would be a lifelong passion. Whether it came in the guise of paintings, fashion, nature or sculpture, aesthetic form always commanded her attention. Supportive family members who exposed her to a world of art set the stage — Ekaterina's love affair with fashion took root, and it hasn't lessened since.
Setting Out on a Mission
After earning a fine art degree in her native Russia, Ekaterina took the next logical step. She traveled far from home to New York City to earn her degree in fashion merchandising from the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology. From there, she interned at big names like Jill Stuart and Vera Wang, yet she always craved more.
Fortunately, New York proved to be the ideal incubator for her enthusiasm. While designing at Issue New York among others who also loved the craft, she cultivated a unique appreciation for the unexplored and innovative. Exposure to new ideas and inventive diversity taught her that all innovative fashion is built upon love — This form of creative expression could be a vehicle for her own love of style, artistic influences and people.
Hunting for Inspiration
From NYC, Ekaterina traveled to Florida to discover more of the unexpected. The undercurrent of vibrant warmth running through the Southern fashion scene drove her to create something different — The iconic hats and accessories that people now associate with the Miami-based Cat and Bonnet company.
Ekaterina's willingness to venture beyond her comfort zone proved successful as clients and fans responded positively, but she wasn't done perfecting her art. She was intrigued by the unique weaving techniques and cultural stories behind the Panama hats she had seen during her many trips to Ecuador. She wanted to return to the source of this inspiration, so she traveled there again to find collaborators who could combine their artisanry with her designs.
In Ecuador, Ekaterina combined her artistic passion with the authentic culture that birthed Panama hats. There, she met artisans who often labored over a single piece for as long as four months using techniques handed down through generations. Realizing that each hat represented hundreds of years of fashion, culture and creative ambition, Ekaterina knew she had to share them with the world.
Towards the Future
Today, Cat and Bonnet is devoted to helping everyone appreciate the journey behind their fantastic Panama hats. In addition to showcasing the talents of Ecuador's often-underappreciated fashion professionals, the company commits five percent of its profits to parentless children via the Hogar Para Sus Niños charity.
It's been a long trek for Ekaterina, but for Cat and Bonnet's clientele, the voyage has just begun. Each Panama hat tells a story, and while the depth of that tale may not always be evident on the surface, these quality accessories let anyone make the journey personal.