Passion Forward: Paolo Votano, Designer and Founder of Ntte Hats
Coming from a country like Italy surrounded by the old and inspired by the beauty of it, Paolo Votano discovered the love for vintage at a young age, in particular, his love for hats. After many years of collecting and wearing them, it wasn’t so difficult to find his passion. He found his inspiration by traveling and living in a city like New York where the old meets the new and discovering how much attention to quality exists in the past, something that nowadays it’s very rare to see. NTTE (Nada Termina Todo Evoluciona), which means “Nothing Ends, Everything Evolves,” is part of a journey into a spiritual growth where the love for the Old give life to the New and the Present The four dots represent the number of elements (Air, Fire, Water, and Earth) used to deliver the final result. NTTE Hats Collection is styling only Quality Vintage Rare Hats (cowboys and fedoras) and every Hat is unique and inspired to a bohemian rock lifestyle cater to people who love to travel, explore, and they are addicted at the same way to the Urban Jungle. NTTE Bespoke Hats custom process begins with a research of a rare Vintage piece that we transform and distress based on our inspiring lifestyle and some preference of the single individual. The hats can be chosen in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles. Most of the work is done one on one with a customer to deliver a dream hats right to his hands.
DT: Paolo, I know personally you’ve been a chef, restaurant owner, and now, custom hat designer. Many would call that a serial entrepreneur; you truly follow your passions. I do remember you talking about designing many years ago and loving designers/brands, like Skingraf and Rick Owens. When did you begin this journey as a designer for Ntte Hats? PV: I started over four years ago (2016); initially, it was a hobby/distraction from the stress of work. I used Rock & Roll and Bohemia as an inspiration. I looked at artists that left a lasting impression…it initially started with t-shirts and accessories. Hats were always a passion as a child, I owned many; and, used them as props while dancing as a kid in Italy. I would also say the culture in Milan and London at the time really influenced my style. So, I wanted to design something more substantial. And, I started to get passionate about designing custom hats. While wearing them, people started to get interested, as well as a small boutique in SOHO in NYC. The hats sold out, so I started to focus on the inspiration, my lifestyle, and wanted to build the Ntte Hats brand. I decided to upcycle vintage hats and customization. I found that every transition in my life led me towards a new path of evolving. DT: Name some of your favorite designers that inspire you? PV: Designers that inspired me are McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier, and Galliano…I like to mix and match style. As well as, brands that aren’t popular. And, I add my own flare, especially with accessories. DT: How important are fashion trends to you? Ntte Hats, has its own point of view and doesn’t appear to follow the flock? PV: It depends. When I was younger, I followed trends; but, I always shifted in another direction when others followed a “trend”. Keep in mind that trends pass; you must create something solid and that has longevity. Trends also create mass waste within brands. We have to more conscious of waste in the world/environment. DT: Are you mainly online? Retail shops? PV: Most companies are focused online businesses now; retail shops are becoming a thing of the past and expensive especially in a major city. For my company 90% of my business is online, and I see clients at my workshop for costume fittings, but I am not a storefront. I focus on collaborations, small retailers, and pop-ups around the world. DT: What great lesson would you share with younger people? PV: Follow your dream, if you have the opportunity. And, adapt in every situation…work very hard…be an assistant…and entrepreneur. Keep learning. DT: What inspires you? What is your passion(s)? PV: I find inspiration in looking at the details around me, as a Libra, I am attracted to the beauty and details of life. I find inspiration through travel, especially in nature. I use this knowledge and infuse it into my work. My passion is to work hard for what I believe in and to align with the spiritual side of us. DT: Finish this sentence, “the shift I would like to see in the world is…” PV: “…a deeper understanding of our connection to the earth, others, and expressing gratitude. As humans just being more aware…it will be a much better society if we tap into that.”
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