Sara Czosnyka's designs blow my mind. I've never truly been a hat person — but I want practically every hat Sara makes because of her attention to detail and her innovative use of materials. These hats are sexy and before commercial clothing stores jumped on the hat bandwagon, Sara was pumping out some amazing pieces of her own. Her company, Process and Content, constantly receives rave reviews nationwide. And as a former U of I student, Smile Politely caught up with Sara to ask her about her art before she gets too big for us small-time media folk.

Age: 26

Location: Los Angeles.

Connection to Champaign-Urbana: Graduate of the Industrial Design program at UIUC

Consumed by: Experimentation.

Hats are the middle child of the accessories family, amazing in their own right, often misunderstood and neglected.

Two things you would buy in bulk: Plane tickets and assorted vintage trinket.

One object you would like to incorporate in a hat design: A living plant.

How did you become interested in millinery?: After leaving UIUC, I went back home to Chicago where I didnt want to get a job in my field. So I took my time, and looked into other classes offered that would expand my knowledge about materials and applications. So I took everything from silk screening, to arch welding, Venetian leather mask making, and hat making. Hat making, made sense to me, because so much of it overlapped with the parts I enjoyed about Industrial Design, working with my hands, pushing limits and addressing issues from fresh viewpoints.

How did U of I enhance your life/career choice/lifestyle?: The foundations program and I.D. taught me that there were so many ways to look at and solve a problem. I always enjoyed riding the edge of the projects perimeters. How could the material preform differently for me? How could I make a material take on attributes that contradict its nature? What other materials could I introduce to create a different experience.

What has influenced your style?: Staying playful, you have to fail to get to better places in your design. Try things that seem unreasonable and see what happens.

Name one person you'd like to create a hat for, and what does the hat look like?: Leonard Cohen. He is a hat fan, and I would let him stay with his stingy brim fedoras, perhaps a navy felt, with a different neutral colored ribbon and binding. I would love to embellish the hat based on one of his metaphors, like having a bright, multicolored colored feather, knotted up in brass wire that is pulled taught between two points on the hat, keeping the hat like him, simple, classic and inspired.

What's one thing that Champaign-Urbana has that Los Angeles doesn't?: A walking culture.


Tell us about one hat you are extremely proud of: My Liquid Gold Cricket Cap. Its an original shape that is flattering for the majority. The embellishment is a several step process starting with a liquid rubber and finishing with a gold leaf. Here it is pictured in a 3 page feature from Chicago Magazine.


My time at Champaign-Urbana was enlightening. If you are attending the University, take every opportunity to participate in courses that may not be required, but intrigue you. I took so many courses that have now played an unexpected roll in my work.

Sarah's work can be found online at Process and Content. Watch Sara make a hat below: