"You never know who you're talking to or who they know," explains Genevieve Piturro, co-founder and president of Bella Luna Creations Inc., a women's hat and accessories manufacturer in New York City. Piturro, 42, and co-founder Alice Pagano, 49, a designer, managed to get one of their hats onto the head of Grammy-winning recording artist Alicia Keys.
Promoting their firm at all times is the pair's philosophy. In fact, they like to wear their hats and strike up conversations with people about their pieces--a tactic that led to the Keys connection. When Pagano shared a floor with other artists and designers, she was talking to someone in the hall one day--someone who happened to be friends with Keys. "I took the opportunity to make freebies and gifts," says Piturro. "We made three hats and delivered them to [Keys'] friend. When he came back from her tour, he said she loved them--especially the black one with the Swarovski trim."
The proof was in the photo that InStyle magazine published in its February 2003 issue of Keys wearing the black fedora during a performance. Though Piturro and Pagano hadn't pitched InStyle, and actually weren't aware of the photo until a friend pointed it out, now, says Piturro, "We're telling everybody--because we couldn't tell anybody that we made hats for her until we knew she was wearing them." Today, they get the word out via press releases and include the photo of Keys wearing their hat--a move they hope will grow their yearly sales beyond the current $200,000 mark.