All your hats are amazing and I definitely have a soft spot for your flamingo pieces. Do you have
My favourite is the hat I am working on, once it’s made I move on. I am fickle in my love but constant in my love for creating. The way I describe my motivation is it’s like reading a really wonderful book, I enjoy the process of ‘reading’ and not knowing the end of the story until I reach the end. Remaking my own hats to order is like reading a book that I know the end of, I am grateful for orders and most people like to see what they are going to buy before they buy it but for me making something new is the most fun on Planet Earth. I am incredibly lucky, I have a partner who is very understanding and a big studio completely stuffed with materials and because inspiration always finds me working I live in a state of constant inspiration (at the expense of everything else in my life!).
Your company seems to be going from strength to strength, what would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
I am pretty hard on myself, I move my goal posts constantly… when I reach a goal I never pat myself on the back. I just see all the things I still need to do. It’s really not good but I have come to realise there are very few milliners who make a living solely from millinery (I guess this applies to all creative areas). I always assumed everyone else was doing better than me, that if I could just make more mainstream head wear I would do better in business.
But I have come to really appreciate that I have survived nearly nine years as a full-time self-employed creative against the odds, I sell frivolity, we live in a world where people don’t really wear hats so I am selling the almost impossible.
I am not rich but I pay my rent on time every month, I have no debt and I owe no one anything in any way. I am grateful for that and everything. I am supported in every possible way, I feel like I am and I am surrounded by people who are rooting for me and are with me every step of the way. I try to be upfront and honest about where I am at but I also try to keep it positive when I talk. When things are slow or tough, and believe me, those times come, I hustle just a bit harder. If this was easy everyone would be doing it… this is a war on reality, reality is the arch nemesis of all creatives.
And finally, what are your plans for your wonderful company in the future?
I am in the process of setting up the new Pearls & Swine and Temptress of Waikiki sites, I have learnt a LOT of lessons over the last eight years. It’s not enough to just be creative, I need to be good at selling too and to understand all the aspects of running a business.
I am very excited that later this year I will be launching my couture collection. I have been making my own hat blocks. I feel I am completely ready to allow myself to spread my wings as wide as possible and to see how high I can fly. I am not in competition with any other milliners, I have no interest in being inspired by other milliners work, I only want to be the best milliner I can be, I go within for my inspiration. The real fun is creating what you have never seen before and knowing you did that all by yourself!
I have recently done my first workshops at the V&A and that has helped me to realise I would like to do more workshops, though they were completely terrifying and out of my social anxiety comfort zone… that is good for me.
I need to be pushed out of my comfort zone to grow. I preach creativity, not copying, I believe we need to create in some capacity to be happy. I guess maybe what I am saying is we don’t need anyone’s permission to create, we don’t need a fancy expensive piece of paper to say we are who we are, we just need to allow ourselves the take a chance on succeeding. I live in fear of failing every single day but I can’t let that fear stop me. And when I fail, I dust myself off and take a chance on trying again.