Donald Trump's hats have quickly become a signature totem of the 2016 campaign, a kitsch magnet that serves ironic hipsters and sincere supporters alike. The red-and-white caps are emblazoned with the real estate mogul's oft-repeated slogan, "Make America Great Again."
But look around the factory floor where these hats are being made by the thousands, and you'll find faces that don't seem to fit into Trump's America.
Yolanda Melendrez is one of them. Melendrez, an immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States by her parents when she was a baby, has worked at the Carson-based Cali-Fame headwear company since 1991.
"When we first got the order , I said to myself, 'Just wait until he sees who's making his hats. We're Latinos, we're Mexicans, Salvadoreños.' "
Melendrez, 44, started out as a machine operator, stitching the seams of baseball caps. She now works as a lead on the floor, roaming as she checks on the flow of work, supervising other sewing machine operators and embroiderers. She became a citizen when she was 20; her parents are permanent residents. Melendrez was 14 when she had her first child, and the job has helped her pay rent and put food on the table for her children, she says.
One recent Saturday at the Cali-Fame factory, about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, dozens of employees, almost all of them Latino, were working away while machines whirred all around them. Some peered over glasses as their deft hands assembled one hat after another; others swept scraps of fabric from the floor. They were surrounded by stacks of freshly minted camouflage-print caps, with the presidential hopeful's all-capital-letter promise emblazoned on the front in orange.
Brian Kennedy, president of Cali-Fame, says that when the Trump campaign asked his family business to make the now-famous hats, he knew he would need to address his workers.
"I said to them, 'We're not political. We're here to work,' " Kennedy told the Los Angeles Times from the second floor of his factory, the steady sound of sewing machines in action below him. "And I haven't gotten any negative comments."
The hats, known best in the signature red with white font, have inspired hipster fashion trends, Halloween costumes, a make-your-own-Trump-hat generator, and even a short-lived rumor they were made in China.
In fact, unlike some Trump-branded lines of clothing sold nationally, this headwear is legitimately made in the USA, creating jobs for people who hail from the very places Trump has at times disparaged.
The company employs about 100 people in a 30,000-square-foot warehouse. About 80 percent of the company's workforce is Latino, Kennedy estimates. He says that every worker has his or her immigration status verified.
The "Make America Great Again" hats have been a boon to Kennedy's business, which pulled in more than $270,000 from the Trump campaign last quarter, according to campaign finance records.
The merchandise was a portion of the more than $825,000 the Trump campaign dropped on bumper stickers, T-shirts, hats and other promotional gear, the largest category of Trump's spending outside of travel.
The hats have seemingly been a boon for Trump's campaign too. Most of the caps sell for $25 each and appear to have boosted Trump's small donations column, making donors of those who purchase them, ironically or not.