Our Story

Owner Stephanie discovered the Ecuadorian-made “Panama” hats while visiting the beautiful Colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador.  She knew that she had found something incredibly special in these hats that combine skilled artisanship, tradition, culture, history, fashion and both environmental and cultural sustainability.  She also realized that Panamas are perfect for warm Florida weather. 

Stephanie launched the La Rubia brand and opened the Key West store in 2014 in an effort to help perpetuate the art of hand weaving toquilla straw in Ecuador.  The former interior designer takes part in the design of the hats that make up the La Rubia brand, but she insists that Panamas are truly about the artisans who weave them.   

In addition to the hats, Stephanie imports many other artisanal, fair-trade accessories from Ecuador that fit La Rubia’s theme of handcrafted, sustainable beauty such as handbags, ikat weavings, alpaca sweaters and more, all directly from Ecuador’s artisans.