Meet the team
Jenny – Founder & Owner
Jenny came to the UK in the early 1970's and worked in the commercial department of the Ecuadorian Embassy for 10 years. She then started a number of businesses, importing many different items from Ecuador including bananas, coffee and roses, before falling in love with the craft of weaving Panamas in Cuenca.. the rest is history!. She loves feeding the team lunch in Luton and has a neverending love affair with developing new and exciting Panama styles.
Mavi - Director
Mavi joined her mother to run the Panama Hat Company in 2017 and looks after all aspects of the business, from customers to hat production. She worked for 18 years for a major multinational, and decided to connect with her entrepreneurial side and join mum in what has been an exhilarating adventure! She is married to Alex and has two teenage boys and cycles to the Hat Factory to work. She has an ambition to cycle the 10 mile journey with Lyra her 1 year old Sprocker Spaniel!
Ehioze – Hat Maker
Ehioze joined the team in 2018 having been looking for a new opportunity for a long time. He had shown an interest in hats in his youth and loved the idea of learning hat making as a vocation. He completed an apprenticeship in textiles in 2019 with The Panama Hat Company and has since been learning all the elements of making panamas and felts. He is really proud of his achievements and loves coming to work everyday!
Denise – Customer Services/Account
Denise joined the team in 2018 having previously worked at HMRC in customer services. She loves working for a small business as her day is always filled with variety. The customers are friendly and value buying from a UK family business, and it is a pleasure to help
them. Denise has two children aged 15 and 6 who keep her super busy. “Coming to work gives me a good balance with home life!”
Maura – Packing/Quality Control
Maura has been with the team for over 15 years and has a passion for panamas and her long lasting relationship with Jenny and the team. She really cares about every hat for every customer, and makes sure that the highest standards of production are kept, and that every hat leaves the factory inspected. She also runs a Peruvian restaurant with her husband and is an excellent cook!
Tina – Hat Machinist
Tina joined the team in 2020 having previously worked at Olney headwear for over 20 years. Her hat machining skills are legendary at Olney and we are very lucky to have her with us – to train and teach as well as work for us. She specialises in band tacking (dressing the ribbon on the hat) and loves being able to put the final touch on the hat, which makes the hat come to life! Tina has two lovely grandchildren who she looks after alongside working with us.
John - Blocker
John was semi-retired when The Panama Hat Company asked him to come and help train the team – he has a staggering 50 years of hat making experience, having joined the hat trade at the age of 16. He started blocking hats, and also moved into cutting and machining. He has been training Ehioze to use our vintage Italian “Michelagnoli” press and is delighted with the results – “...bringing an old machine to life is very satisfying!”
Julie – Hat Machinist
Julie helped part time during lockdown and has over 30 years of hat making experience. Her many skills in machining are invaluable to the team – she specialises in using the oldest machines in our collection – the “17 guineas” - and her ability to use these is a credit to her hat making skills as they are the hardest to use and require years of training. She is always willing to help us with training our newer staff in her spare time as well as running a large foster family - thank you Julie!
Catherine - Hat Machinist
Catherine has over 20 years of hat machining experience. She worked at Olney Headwear and other hat makers during her career and now and is really pleased she can continue hat machining with us, “...given that there are so few hat making jobs available in Luton these days”. She worked several of the machines and has been really pleased to pick up a few new skills using the wiring and turning methods for the first time. We are really lucky to have you Catherine!
Eleni – Social Media and Marketing
Eleni joined the team in 2017 after completing her degree in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire. She loves working with The Panama Hat Company as she finds the product, the story, and the people exciting to write about. She has worked from Athens in Greece over lock down and is always keen to find great stories to write about the company. She loves dogs, ice cream and fashion, and is always happy to make friends with everyone!
Maria - Resident Designer & Milliner
Maria Cuji is our resident designer and milliner, based in her studio in London. Having worked closely with the Ecuadorian artisans in their workshops, and understanding the way they work has helped her develop skills that she took with her to study Textiles BA at Central Saint Martins. From Ecuador herself, Maria prides herself in using recycled materials to make her spectacular fascinators from panama straw. She is available for commissions and loves making unique one-off pieces for customers.