For Designer Janessa Leoné, a Quiet Morning is a Sacred Ritual

A minimalist’s dream.

By Caitlin Clark

Every founder has an immense sense of ownership over their brand, but when your start-up is named eponymously, it signals a certain commitment and conviction. That is absolutely true of Janessa Leoné, who launched a namesake millenary label in 2013 without any design or business training. A nanny at the time, all the University of San Diego grad had was a dream and a sign in the form of a 1940s-era fedora that caught her eye in a Paris thrift shop.

Under the dusty headband was the milliner’s signature, which included the last name Leoné. “I was like, oh my gosh, maybe somehow I need to go down this path,” she told Forbes, just a couple of years after making the magazine’s “30 Under 30” list in the Arts & Style category.

That faith in her dream also translates to the type of brand Leoné helms. The hats are sold at Neiman Marcus, on ShopBop, and within chic, well-edited boutiques from Aspen to Alys Beach. Leoné’s celebrity endorsements are also staggering—Meghan Markle, Hailey Baldwin, Lupita Nyong’o, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all sported her headgear, while Taylor Swift chose a burgundy velvet cap from Janessa Leoné (called “Mattie,” and currently on sale here) to play a key role in the reimagining of her Red album cover.

But no matter how many major moments Leoné experiences with her brand, she stays dedicated to her craft. Each hat (Leoné also dipped her toe into clothing this year) is completely handmade with responsibly-sourced materials, sustainability, and conscious consumption in mind. She’s also big on domestic manufacturing—a brave choice in a world where fast fashion still (unfortunately) looms large.

It’s hard to believe that kind of conviction wouldn’t translate to a steadfast morning routine. Follow along as Janessa Leoné takes us through her structured, intentional AM rituals. (Spoiler: they’re a minimalist’s dream.)

First, I’m Dying to Ask This One Career Question

If you could pin your success down to one thing or one moment, what would that be?

An incredibly talented and dedicated team of people surrounding me. None of what I have done professionally would be possible without the support of my people and team.

Let’s Get Into Janessa Leoné’s Morning Routine

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I wake up with a very quiet and sacred morning ritual. I’m online working by 8 a.m., either at home or in the office. I use the first part of my day to create structure for the day ahead. I’m a big believer in deep work, so I like to create batches of time for projects and tasks. I schedule every minute of my work day including lunch, meditation, and moments for walks. Having the daily structure gives my mind freedom to focus simply on what I had pre-dedicated my time to. 

What time is your wake-up call? And how much sleep do you usually get?

5 a.m. I try to get a minimum of seven hours.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Start the kettle for a fresh cup of pour over coffee.

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like? What rituals set you up for success?

I have a quiet morning watching the sunrise with a journal, book, or meditation. Then, I end with a sauna or workout and am usually online working by 8 a.m. 

Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish.

I’m a minimalist through and through. In the morning, I simply ice my face with a large ice cube and then use Ilia super serum SPF moisturizer.

Go-to morning meal?

I fast in the morning—I don’t eat until 11 a.m. or noon. But I do start the day with 32 ounces of water with lemon, black coffee, a glutathione supplement.

Do you follow or practice any morning media rituals? 

I have a very structured morning routine. I wake up early and leave my phone off until I’m centered and ready to be intentional with my energy and time. If I deviate from this routine, I find that I’m on the defensive all day reacting to things that are inbound instead of being able to be in charge of my attention and energy.  

What are your favorite books?

I almost exclusively read books on health optimization, mind optimization, leadership, and spiritual development. 

Founder and designer Janessa Leoné

What do you always have on your nightstand to ensure a smooth, successful morning?

Nothing. I like to keep a clutter-free room with nothing on the counters to allow my mind to rest. 

What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

I love to put on Paul Simon or Neil Young in the morning. 

Do you work out in the morning?

I work out three times a week. I do HIIT strength training with my trainer who comes to my home. 

Bath or shower? 

BATH! Osea body scrub!

What’s your daily uniform? 

I keep my uniform simple. You can usually find me in a perfect white tee, jeans, and a blazer. I want to feel confident and comfortable and keep my decision energy on running the company.

What are one or two things you do every day to live a more joyful life?

I cultivate a gratitude mindset. I’ve trained my mind to look for the joy in the little moments. I give myself a lot of grace and space to relish in the beauty of life and don’t let the meaningful mundane go unnoticed.

Sentence Finishers With Janessa Leoné

I never leave the house without… my dog Wallace.

If there were more hours in the day, I would… listen to music while watching the ocean.

Healthiest morning habit… prayer. 

Worst morning habit… coffee before water. 

One thing I want to be known for… to be robust enough to be of service in the world. 

The one thing I fear the most is… wasting gifts.

When I feel that fear… I reconnect with my breath.

The book I always recommend is… the one that makes you feel most connected to life’s goodness. 

The three traits you need to succeed in life are… love, vulnerability, and honesty.