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I tip my hat

Apparently, very few people were prepared for my runway treat of male models in the NYFW show. iPhones went skidding across the runway as guests fumbled and flurried and tried to re-gain composure – they simply weren’t ready for the eight-pack that presented and opened the show. Even the live stream experienced an interruption.

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The Bondi Bather sequins swimwear too, was a huge hit and with immense pride I can also report, so was my 20 piece collection of millinery and worn art. And as the months go by and another photographer tags me with his own moment captured, I get to relive the feeling of show exhilaration again and again and still to this day.

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My creativity, sweat and tears was showcased to perfection by the models and the somewhat unnerving paparazzi experience afterwards left me with no doubt that I had achieved the goal set before me and perhaps more.

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But in less than 10 minutes it was over. The next designer was on the runway, I was in a tiny dark hall way, hugging my pieces with protective arms, caught against the traffic in the narrow backstage warren and unable to make any movement against the long line of models – my NYFW Spring Summer 2017 showing was done.

For the past three years Ive been privileged to show on the runway of New York, so this year I was better prepared for the ‘lost’ feeling that follows; when the whirlwind that is my existence since the year began comes to an abrupt end. After the chaos, and the celebrations with treasured friends who have travelled the globe for the show, there’s that real risk of losing direction, momentarily at least.
The live stream of my runway show was viewed by 15K people with a reach of over 37K on Facebook alone. I didn’t know what to do with those stats. All of it was so overwhelming, the lead up, the show and afterwards and at times I felt I was in a complete out of self experience.

Combine this with the post-adventure blues as each treasured friend zipped their suitcase to head back home – I needed the next thing to look forward to and fast. So before I headed to the U.S, I planned a little adventure to embark on after New York, something to look forward to and keep those ‘lost’ feelings at bay.

First stop was a trip to the Hamptons with great friend and brilliant Broome based Aussie photographer Kathryn Sprigg. We spent the first day scouting the Hamptons for photoshoot opportunities and the next two days photographing and believe it or not, I was the one wearing my collection. By no means a model; this was understandably a very casual shoot, no hairdressers, no makeup (no shock there), and for most of the time I was still wearing my RM Williams boots but the aim to create visuals for my Hats by Felicity portfolio was achieved. This soon to be completed, visual documentation of my journey and growth of millinery art is being developed primarily for film and television, to promote myself as a milliner looking for a job.

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The portfolio will also promote me to print media, as an available resource to provide millinery and worn art creations for photo shoots, for others promoting their brands. The creation of this visual story has been a great follow on for me to delve into after the show.

With Hamptons shoot done, my next stop was Texas. I love this place and I was not going home without a few days touchdown at least. I had met a great texan couple at the Broome Cup races (as you do) and we had exchanged numbers and I was excited, not only to spend the day with Rusty and Monica but they were also taking me to visit a hat maker – Rusty’s hat maker, who incidentally, was taking the red pindan dirt out of Rusty’s hat! What are the chances of me viewing a cowboy hat getting Kimberley dirt removed from it in Texas!

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Jeff from Biggar Hats is a legend. He not only welcomed me to his Decatur store but I got to tour the back store workshop with insight into Jeff’s own tricks of our treasured hat making trade. Like me, Jeff is passionate about creating individual hats for individual people. He measures the head, creates the wood size mould that he also engraves with the client’s name before creating the perfect hat for each client that walks through his door. I sew in a pearl button to my one-off creations and Jeff embellishes the clients name to the inside of their hat. We love bespoke.

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Rusty, Monica and I spent the majority of our day in Biggar Hats and were then pressed for time for their other Texan must do’s, which is why it’s always a great plan to return! What we did do however, was somehow discover we had but a few degrees of separation in friendships and we were simply meant to meet.
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For the final leg of my adventure, I stopped over in Hawaii for a few days, to break up the long trip from Texas to Broome and to re-energise and prepare for my life. I finished full time salaried work during the year and while show preparations and bespoke creations had kept me busy before I left, I was heading back to a new life of working for myself.

I used the time in Hawaii to do my post show interviews, making sure I was relaxed and comfortable with that magnificent ocean view, as we all know public speaking is not my comfort zone. With interviews done, I had two days to completely chill and find myself; Walks along Waikiki beach in the mornings and evenings and by the pool with book to read during the day – the second day by the pool I brought along my notepad and pen.

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I feel it’s so important to take time out from our lives, whatever they may entail and give time to yourself, to relax out of the space you are in, to energise and have the ability to clearly and sensibly plan where to next. I honour myself with this space every Monday night – commonly known to those close to me as my ‘Flic nite’. It only takes a few hours but I stop and sit. It’s the night I’ll have a foot spa or face mask, I’ll even book a massage – I do not work, and that’s a hard thing to do – especially now that I work for myself as we all know the self employed never really stop. Headspace is so important – our mental health just as important as physical.

My Milliner on the Move business too embraces mental health just as much as it embraces rural, regional and remote Australia. The hats being the ploy, enticing people to stop, even if it’s just for one night and to be surrounded by friends and laughter; to forget about tomorrow’s crazy itinerary just for a moment. The joy of millinery isn’t just about the hat – it’s about what donning a hat does for us; how it makes us feel, change our stance, play a hero, even an alter ego. Hats make us happy.

It took me 40 years to realise I wanted to be an entrepreneur and now that I’ve worked it out, I am passionate. In many ways, my millinery art and passion have delivered me here. And as well as growing my millinery to the next levels I am also excited to embark on my other passion of business and special project development, – making ideas happen. I’ve launched my new Business FMB Projects, to help others bring their ideas to fruition.

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I’ll be very honest when I say I am petrified and scared as I embark on this self employed journey but I’d be pretty peeved’ at myself if I didn’t at least have a go.

I have also launched my Hats by Felicity online store and would love your feedback, particularly on any products that you would like to see me include. http://www.hatsbyfelicity.com.au

I have learnt so much on my journey that on the outside may showcase the hat, but like everyone else, has so many other layers beneath. I feel my hats are only the beginning and they still have so far to grow. I feel the time is now right to take the plunge and go out on my own; to grow not only my millinery and worn art but also my other passions and small businesses.

And I want to share my skills, experience and lessons learned with others who have ideas they want to grow.

So as I tip my hat to another NYFW show I tip my hat to you, my friends and supporters who got me there and have got me here; to following our dreams and to new business ventures and health and happiness in 2017.

I tip my hat to life.

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Oh and for those who keep asking .. I’ve worked it out – my driving words for 2017 are innovation and adventure

Celebrating with my fabulous friends after the NYFW show. Bubbles and sunset on a rooftop in New York.

Celebrating with my fabulous friends after the NYFW show. Bubbles and sunset on our rooftop in New York.

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