Doctor creates thriving millinery business in her spare time
HomeHome > Blog > Doctor creates thriving millinery business in her spare time

Doctor creates thriving millinery business in her spare time

Nov 23, 2023

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The beautiful hats and fascinators you’ll see at the Kentucky Oaks and Derby can sometimes have unexpected backstories. That’s true of hundreds of them made by one highly regarded milliner in Louisville.

Ilana Kogan is known as the Hat Doctor.

She’s a double board-certified physician in radiology and nuclear medicine, so she spends her days in dark rooms.

“You know, it’s ironic, because I look at black and white images all day as a radiologist, and I think I’m just obsessed with color and need to fill my world with color because there’s so much black and white.”

A post shared by ilana kogan (

Kogan fell in love with all the colors she saw at the Kentucky Derby when she moved from her home state of New York to Louisville for medical school.

Now, just across the river from the Derby City at Priority Radiology in New Albany, Indiana, Kogan sneaks color into her office, bringing in hats and fascinators for everyone she works with to ear around this time of year.

As a doctor and a mother of two young children, Kogan still finds time in her schedule to make hundreds of headpieces a year.

“It’s a total stress relief, like, nothing is more fun working hard during mammography, radiology, reading cat scans, MRIs all day, putting your kids to bed and then whipping out your needle, thread, glue gun, curling iron, all my little tools, grabbing a glass of wine… and just getting to work on some hats,” Kogan smiled.

Her work has taken off online on her Etsy and Instagram pages. She’s also been one of the Kentucky Derby Museum’s featured milliners for the past two years.

A post shared by ilana kogan (

Her hat designing days go all the way back to when she was in med school at the University of Louisville, when she and her classmates couldn’t afford expensive headpieces.

“The hats I used to get at Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx on clearance,” Kogan laughed. “And then we used to sell them on eBay after the Derby was over, because you can’t wear the same thing twice, and I thought I was rich after that, because I was selling a ton of hats and making some pocket money.”

Now, her pieces are featured in several boutiques across Louisville, like Rodeo Drive, where she even stops in to help style customers.

Kogan’s work features feminine details like birds, roses, butterflies and lots of feathers, with attention to detail in regards to vibrant colors and face framing designs.

Those details pay off—literally.

“I have a very large amount of student loan debt and I thought this would be a great opportunity to do something I love and help pay that down,” she explained. “Pretty much every single piece, every dollar I get from every single hat goes to my student loan debt, so we’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.”

Kogan says she’s not completely sure how she makes time for two full-time jobs, along with raising a family, but she smiled, “It’s just prayer and a lot of coffee, and I love it. That’s the most important thing. If you love what you do, it’s not work.”

Kogan sells most of her hats and fascinators online through Etsy. She can customize any of them to match customers’ outfits, so they’re a perfect fit. She invites customers to send her photos of their dresses on her Etsy or Instagram pages, so she can make those customizations. She ships her pieces anywhere in the country for free.