With the Yellowstone T.V. series craze in full throttle, it’s affected runways and closets across the world. Enter Cassandra Everett, founder of Cenizo West and Cenizo Hatworks and her companies that craft her designs in Texas. Born in San Antonio and raised in Corpus Christi and Kerrville, she graduated from Texas Tech and currently enjoys rural life in Sabinal, Texas (approximately 60 miles west of San Antonio). There she creates her Western designs that are sweeping the world. Here, we get up close and personal about her design ethos.
By Lance Avery Morgan Cenizo Photography courtesy of Cenizo
Three qualities that got me where I am today are…Perseverance, kindness, and creativity. When I get a notion to do something, I focus on the goal and work to achieve it. Kindness is important, both giving and receiving, and surrounding yourself with caring, supportive individuals who inspire you. As for creativity, I believe everyone has a talent of some sort, hidden or otherwise, and exploring that can bring joy leads to great personal achievement.
Easiest career decision I ever made is…Also, my best: follow my gut instincts in business and what I choose to create. First, I remain firm in my principles and seek the assistance and guidance of those who believe in my vision, and secondly, I choose to create what I am compelled to create even if nobody else can see what I am seeing.
I love creating Cenizo West and Cenizo Hatworks because…They are the embodiment of my identity, linking my Spanish heritage with my Texas roots, in a very creative and beautiful way. As an artist, the work has meaning to me, of course, but it also speaks to my clients as they choose the piece of jewelry or hat that will also represent and reflect something in each of them.
Custom hats are important because…Some say a hat is just a functional piece of headwear. Others, after seeing my work, argue that my hats transcend this notion; that it is a sculptural piece. I craft the hat as a high-quality, blank canvas. With the felt as my medium, I sculpt into it the designs I choose to form, all by hand with my signature creases, including a diamond, a bull, and even a Yellowstone “Y” brand crease exclusive to those associated with the show. Working with clients is a process; getting to know them, and selecting the right combination of materials and design to represent who they are.
My current inspiration for my jewelry designs is….My designs reflect my heritage and culture, from the refinement of Spain to the ruggedness of Texas. I chose wax carving, a method of jewelry-making dating back thousands of years, to create my designs, including pieces such as the Agave Bolo, the Crosses of Hope and Sacred Heart rings, turquoise stud earrings and more. Every design has significance behind it, every texture, metal, and stone used has a purpose and a reason.
How I made my first dollar…I come from a very musical family and won numerous awards in opera/singing competitions growing up, so it’s only fitting that music earned me my first dollar. When I was around 5, my uncle offered me $5 to sing for the family. That worked so well that I offered to sing another song if he would give me another $10. He was a businessman, so he chuckled and agreed.
Last thing I binge/marathon watched…This might be a trick question. Pretty sure I should answer Yellowstone since some of my work has found its way into the show and the personal collection of some of those tied to the show. (LOL) Also, about a year ago, I became sick and stayed sick for a few weeks; I ended up binge-watching Breaking Bad because everyone said it was amazing.
Book that left a lasting impression on me…Books, plural, by two authors. First, Roald Dahl, hands-down. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach to The BFG and The Twits, those storylines, and even his fun use of new and nonsensical words, taught me in 5th grade that childhood was to be enjoyed and that, even as you grow up, it’s okay to go against the grain and do things with your own flair. The other is poetry by e. e. cummings, which in 6th grade showed me that there is often beauty found in not always conforming to society’s standards and expectations.
First album I bought…The first one I bought for myself was Waylon Jennings – Collector’s Series on vinyl. I admit, however, that I never had to buy too many on my own since I grew up listening to the many genres in my parents’ extensive collection, which I love to this day.
What everyone/woman should try in her lifetime is…Something different or opposite from what you think you know. Travel to a different place and immerse yourself into a different culture, or simply try some new experience outside your comfort zone. You learn quickly about others and yourself, which is extremely humbling, and it can change your life in some pretty incredible ways if you let it.
If I could compete in an Olympic sport it would be…Judo.My grandfather was a boxer, and we all grew up learning to box, but I wanted to take it a step further and learn to defend myself, so I trained in Jiu-Jitsu and loved it. And since Jiu-Jitsu is not an Olympic sport, I would choose Judo as the closest option.
If I weren’t doing what I do I would…It’s hard to say, since I’m already blessed to be doing some wonderfully gratifying things I never knew I could do. But I will say, whatever it might be, I will do my best.
If I could live in a foreign city it would be…Seville, Spain, where I lived for a while. It was amazing and I am forever grateful, but with that said, there is something about Texas. Nothing else compares and I am thankful to be here.
The beauty essential you’d have to pry out of my cold, dead hands is…A good pair of quality earrings. I like textured silver studs; great with jeans and boots or a little black dress.
A celebrity I would prank phone call and what I would ask them is… I’m not a prank-calling type, but if I could call any celebrity, living or non-living, I would call Guy Clark. His music is in my hat shop playlist that I listen to while I am working and I have often thought about how incredible it was that he was such an amazing songwriter and guitar builder. I spend a lot of time being creative in multiple disciplines so I would love to talk to him about how he switched gears and created in different spaces.
My personal style signifier is…The kind of jewelry and hats I have created for myself, and now others, including three chunky rings on my right hand and my grindstone wrap bracelet. And during the appropriate season — it’s Texas, what can I say — my go-to felt hat.
The classic movie actress’ style I most identify with is…It’s not necessarily about the style, but rather the attitude and personality.As opposed to classic, I think about Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich, making it very clear that she wears whatever the hell she wants, and also Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz in Bandidas with that edgy and rough yet feminine appeal. If there is a single actress who embodies all of that on screen, I am happy to be inspired.
Classic designer I wish was still designing today (and why) is…I have no favorite, I simply gravitate to style that is just different enough to make you look twice. It’s those outside-of-the-box thinkers, full of ideas and probably all over the place, who fearlessly introduce something truly new and innovative. That’s who I appreciate the most.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighborhood in one city… I love to travel.I love creating a look that is a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and bandidas, so the pieces I appreciate are typically more straightforward and can be found almost anywhere I go, which I love.
An artist whose work I would collect (or like to collect) is…Michelangelo. We see all kinds of creations people call art, but the first time I saw one of his pieces, I was struck by the quality and attention to detail, including the human anatomy, and how completely another level his art was (and still is). It seems we don’t have much of that anymore and if we do, it’s certainly not appreciated enough.
In my fridge you will always find…Greek yogurt and strawberry jam. Two things I make it a point so I never run out.
On my tombstone it will say… (*chuckling here*) Hopefully just my name. I am letting my life speak for itself, and at the end of it, if you know, you know.
My perfect day would end…Sitting by a crackling outdoor fire with a warm drink in hand. And if you’ve got family and people you love — who love you — there with you, even better.