For the very first time DAOTEY comes together with a like-minded female founder, the founder of Ulaland. After publishing a blog featuring a hat artisan from Cambodia, we are delighted to share an inspiring story of successful female entrepreneur Usua Landa - a hat and beret enthusiast, designer and maker. Usua has shared with us her creative journey of challenges and successes and showed how a long-term passion can turn into a business.
How to become a successful female founder and which business can a woman start?
The journey of a French/Spanish inspired label Ulaland begins with Usua Landa’s passion for hat-making and berets. “I have always loved hats and berets, they seem like a perfect complement to give personality to your style and your way of seeing life” - says Usua. When starting the project, the three objectives helped to shape Ulaland and make it the brand that it is today: inclusivity - a brand where anyone can find a model that they identify with, regardless of age, gender or size; uniqueness - a brand that sells personal products that make the wearer feel proud and special; quality- accessories that can be worn on any occasion. That is how the brand acquired its unique features such as customisable ribbons, embroidery and colored linings inside each hat symbolising self-love and self-expression.
Once when she was looking for a fascinator for her own wedding, Usua came across an e-commerce brand selling only millinery material. “I was intrigued to make the hat myself, so I bought the materials but had no clue what to do with them. After finding a dressmaker in Madrid who offered millinery classes, I have not stopped learning new techniques and discovering new materials for hats”. Last year, Usua went one step further and launched Ulaland. “The most exciting moment was to define the philosophy and the values of Ulaland because the success of a brand, apart from the products themselves, is the story behind it. Now, Ulaland is a brand that represents me at 100%, with clear values, and in each order that I prepare, I leave a piece of my passion to pass it on to the customer” - says Usua.
Ulaland was officially born on November 25th, which is Usua’s birthday, and by fate, Saint Catherine day, the patron of hatmakers and dressmakers.
Advantages, challenges and opportunities of being a female entrepreneur
Usua Landa is originally from Spain but has lived in Switzerland for over 15 years now. She studied Computer Engineering in Spain but now she is combining her three passions: IT, entrepreneurship and hats - a perfect combination, don’t you think so? The atelier of Ulaland where all the ideas are born is at Usua’s home, a room to escape from day-to-day activities and let the creativity flow. It is filled with the necessary ingredients to make a new hat: felts, hat blocks, flowers, feathers, etc. Usua draws her inspirations from travels, films, old photos. “I have promised myself that I will always create pieces that I will wear myself and wear them with pride, not pieces that I make just because of fashion rules and trends”- says the founder. The designs are then passed on to ateliers in Spain where hats and berets are handcrafted. Usua has shared insight into the upcoming collection that will present three to four models of toquilla straw hats (Panama hats) for the summer occasions such as a day on the beach or a picnic. “For the next winter I would love to collaborate with an artist and create a super special limited-edition collection” - shared Usua.
Just like any other project, creating Ulaland was not easy. There have been many sleepless nights thinking about how to overcome obstacles and to find solutions. For example, finding hat ateliers offering quality products in a virtual way, due to the pandemic was a challenge. Usua shared that the hardest is to keep the right balance between full-time IT work, family and Ulaland. “Sometimes it is very difficult to focus on one thing when your head is occupied with meeting preparations related to software licenses, when your kids are playing at home due to Covid-19 quarantine and when I need to select the best colors and fabrics for the next collection. In the last 3 years, and even more since covid, I’ve realised how important mental health is, and how vital it is to be mindful about work and health balance.”
Nevertheless, Usua’s aspirations with Ulaland are ambitious and it is only the beginning of the adventure. While due to the family and work duties, Usua is unable to dedicate as much time to Ulaland as she would have wished, she has planned to recover the investment that has been initially made at the start of the project in 2022. “To reach this objective of recovering the investment, I would like to collaborate with several concept stores or physical stores to have more visibility. I would also love to participate in fashion trade shows to learn more about the retail world. ” - says Usua.
Can you become a businesswoman?
At DAOTEY, we value our community of like-minded women founders and creators, therefore, we have asked Usua Landa to share advice for current or aspiring female entrepreneurs and women working in male-dominated industries. “The best advice that I can give to females that want to start a project is to start it, even if it is not perfect, because it will never be. It is much more valuable to launch a project that is at 70% and continue growing and adapting it than spending months to have it “perfect” and then realising it is not what the market wants.” Getting in touch with female entrepreneurs and asking for mentoring from experienced women is a powerful way of sharing knowledge. Usua Landa added: “If you are in the IT industry and you feel alone, let’s get in touch! I will be grateful to discuss and share my experience.”
Usua shared a story similar to Sonia - the creator of DAOTEY, who never knew she would launch a brand of bags & backpacks that inspires to embrace her own passion and transform them into business. Stay tuned for the next blog post featuring a new interview with a female entrepreneur.