Excited to share my little yarn via the Central Station podcast and I thank Steph Coombes for her persistence in asking .. I feel most privileged, and I hope you enjoy. xf
Excited to share my little yarn via the Central Station podcast and I thank Steph Coombes for her persistence in asking .. I feel most privileged, and I hope you enjoy. xf
It was 18 months ago now, that almost silently, I released the “Cruise Broome,” the first hat of my custom designed commercial hat range, and since that April, 2017 backyard unveil, this next chapter of my hats by Felicity story has excitedly grown.
I’ve always been completely passionate about the hat, particularly the cowboy hat. … I create them, collect them, wear them and like many of you, just plain love them. “One can never have too many hats” you’ll hear me say … as I hang another hat on the rack.
After releasing the ‘Flic Pinch’ palm leaf hat on the runway of NYFW, I created one for myself to wear in my stall at the Courthouse markets, Broome.
Customers wanted my hat, but when I told them the price of the bespoke creation they turned straight for the mango smoothie line. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who know and respect the hat and understand the price and will pay; but I want everyone to wear hats! So, a few years ago, I started researching the price point that the general population was prepared to pay for a wide brimmed hat that protected them from the sun and of course, looked good. The resultant price made it unachievable for me to personally create the hat, so I set about designing a hat that someone else could produce for me; a hat that I felt confident people would feel great in, they’d wear with pride, wear often and grow the SunSmart message; a hat that had my touch, fit them perfectly and was affordable. Designing it turned out to be the easiest part – the challenge was finding someone to make the hats who understood me and what I was aiming to achieve; who respected my touches and would create the hat to my own standard. Many sketches, prototypes and sleepless nights later, I finally secured the supplier for my first Hats by Felicity custom designed commercial range of hats.
There’s moments in life that are significant chapters of our yarn and let me tell you the arrival of my first box of hats designed by me, was certainly one.
Marketing was next; getting this baby out there. I passively launched during the Shinju artist open house trail early 2017. People came to view my millinery, and were led through my gate and up to the studio shed by a line of ‘Cruise Broome’ hats. The reaction (to both) was great. The Cruise Broome hats walked out the gate, and … they looked GREAT.
I then included the hats in my Sunday market stall, where I’m able to showcase the finer details of the hat, taking time to measure customers heads, use the internal drawstring to size perfectly and shape the brim according to individual’s comfort zone and sense of style.
I subtly included the hats in my millinery exhibitions and events big and small across the country, from the North West tip of the Kimberley, through the Pilbara, Gasgoyne and into Perth, across to Balmain, Sydney and country NSW; I even left a hat in South Africa. This Milliner on the Move has spent every opportunity to be on the road and promote this collection to all.
I met with retailers throughout WA and and I’m extremely proud to say that from the northwest tip of the state down to the wheatbelt you can now purchase my custom designed hat, in fact, you even have a choice, with four more hat designs since launched with this Hats by Felicity range.
The next step, knowing demand existed, was getting myself to a position that enabled the purchase of my first large order from my supplier, and I couldn’t be prouder to have taken this big small business step … just … last … week! So, it’s game on and make some room in the shed because the hats are on their way.
Outlets where you can purchase the hat range in WA include Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, Broome Visitor Centre, Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat, Port Hedland Visitor Centre and Botanicalia Gallery in York. The plan of course, is to stock Australia wide so I still have some work to do. But in the meantime, you can also purchase via my online store www.hatsbyfelicity.com.au and if you’re in Broome, at the Courthouse markets or from my studio by appointment.
If you’d like to be a stockist please contact me on email@example.com.
This is my moment to thank you, who, had faith in this project and dream of mine to develop a SunSmart hat that fits, is affordable and looks good. You must feel great in your hat. Be it bespoke millinery or a wide brimmed sun hat, those who know me know it is my biggest belief that putting on your hat must instantly make you feel great.… it’s not just about the hat!
A huge shout of thanks to you who tag me wearing your hats out and about – globally even! This not only makes my day, but makes this, my hat product, credible and very real.
I’ll be in touch again closer to the festive season but in the meantime, keep an eye out for a little yarn on ABC Landline and the U.K. BBC Julia Bradbury TV Series, for a snippet of feathers and fun. The fabulous hosts of both shows each own a ‘Cruise Kimberley’ hat, so who know’s, the hat might even make a celebrity guest appearance.
I know it’s been a while between updates, it’s been a pretty hectic time for us all; but we have to keep these goals going and be in it for the long haul. So, thank you. I hope this finds you happy, healthy and well.
Stay committed to your dream … you can make it happen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh and for those who keep asking .. I’ve worked it out – my driving words for 2017 are innovation and adventure
I can see the Empire State Building from my Manhattan apartment window – did you know they change the colour of the tower lights every night? Tonight it’s orange and blue. I have to pinch myself that I’m here.
It’s been a massive run to my third NYFW show and thanks to my friends and some amazing sponsors, and the creative headspace from working for myself (yes … I’ve finished with the Ag Dept.), I am well and truly here, all glue guns blazing, with my Spring Summer 2017 collection of millinery creations, and I’m ready to show to over 300 VIP’s and the fashion world, in but a few short days. To say I’m a tad nervous is absolutely nowhere close to the mark!
The lead up to this years event has been busy. As milliner on the Move I had brilliant trips to Anna Plains Station in the Kimberley and to Yarrie Station and the races of Marble Bar in the Pilbara region. Both of these adventures, however, command their own individual blog space, so you’ll have to stay tuned for these yarns on my return from the shiny red.
The Broome races too, were a feather above the rest this year with Broome Cup being the most colourful of all Broome trackside events I’ve seen yet. Never have I created so many hats and headpieces in one year and although my fingers are still recovering, I’m already excited to do it again.
And now I am here, in New York City on the eve of Fashion Week with my Hats by Felicity showing this Sunday, September 11, at 5pm. I keep doing double takes as I see my name and imagine this is how the Olympians must feel – with AUSTRALIA in capitals beneath … i’m sure Olympians have more than sore fingers and thumb, though … and they probably use the stairs, not the lift.
My runway event will be live streamed through the Hats by Felicity Face book page. I’m showing with Fashion Gallery at the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Affinia Hotel 5pm NYC time and believe me, not only are those chandeliers going to shine .. my models are wearing a custom made Bondi Bather special that compliments my collection to perfection and I can’t wait to show you all.
And wait till you see the feathers … my feather collectors have been amazing again this year with feathers coming from all parts of Australia. Without these stunning plumes and while Im at it, without my feather sorter (thanks Ella) I wouldn’t be showcasing half the collection I am about to, so when these hand collected feather creations float upon the runway please feel as proud as I am because without you, they simply wouldn’t exist.
I know I’ve said it twice before, but when this collection presents on the NYFW runway, it’s not just me showcasing, it’s a whole swag of us who are part of the hat and yarn …
I met the models who are going to parade my work yesterday, some of which are return girls from last year. They are a really lovely bunch who looked a tad unsure when I explained the dictionary meaning for Felicity is ‘happiness’ and bliss, and if they feel happy when they are wearing my creations on the runway, then by all means feel free to smile ..
Tonight I have my own big smile with my whole collection around me, I’ve been trying pieces on and assigning them to the models, preening feathers and feeling proud, with the Empire State building shining above me. I can’t wait to show you.
And what do I want to achieve from this NYFW event? Apart from raising awareness of millinery as a wearable art, through my collection entitled “Australia in Bloom” I want to proudly highlight our stunning and truly beautiful rural, regional and remote Australia; and above all, as a small business and passionate milliner, I want to secure a millinery contract in the industry of film – then we can aim for the Oscars after this!
A special shout of thanks to those who have dressed me for the runway, provided me with luscious lashes and fabulous skin, amazing hair and sensational sunglasses; who created spectacular outfits for the models, put together heart pumping music for the runway; for the pearls that are about to walk the runway, who designed my menu of creations for “Australia in Bloom” and millinery materials of stunning best; those who’ve fed me when I was in lock-down creating this collection, who’ve sponsored my name to the wallpaper for the red carpet, models for the runway; for your talented photography (Kathryn Sprigg) and who’ve worked tirelessly by my side making all this happen (thank you Kim St John). You are all tagged with love and thanks. And to my family and my friends, who continue rock my world and make this millinery dream happen … Thank you.
See you on Sunday – I’ll wave from the runway (if i’m conscious).
PS A heartfelt thanks for this surprise GoFundme site… #fundedbyfriends
It’s been hot in the Kimberley. We’ve had a dry Wet season and the humidity and heat has been taking its toll. Amazingly though, as we mere humans melt in the heat, our desert plants have been blooming. My own desert roses have the fullest clusters of flowers that I can remember.
The Australian outback, our rainforests, coasts, cities and towns are a constant spectacular of floral bloom and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase our colourful land through my upcoming third annual Hats by Felicity show at New York Fashion Week.
I am completely pinching myself with the third invitation, after my runway debut at NYFW as the first Australian Milliner, showing with Fashion Gallery in 2014. I feel much smarter and more confident this third time round and although we all know the stress will rise as I near September’s show, the levels will be far less than the past two years. I may even get to enjoy my runway bow?!
To kick off the inspiration for creation I ran my Hats by Felicity competition – searching for muse to showcase Australia in bloom. The response was stunning with photo entries flowing in from around the country featuring our flowering plants that stop us in awe. The winning inspiration was from Andrea in Floreat, WA; Western Australia’s Eucalyptus Macrocarpa.
All this encouragement has flung me well into design mode for the 2016 collections and bespoke commissions. My millinery materials have arrived and my community of feather collectors are delivering the most stunning of plumes.
Adding to this year’s excitement is an independent invitation to showcase in West Palm Beach Florida, USA. I am thrilled that America has embraced me, and is providing me the opportunity to showcase my millinery passion and art and also to show off my magnificent Australian homeland.
The ride is never without the hiccups though, and my latest was another skin cancer surgery, a small lump from my chest. Not a melanoma this time so no complaints from me and the stitches are out and result is benign. The small scar is simply my visible reminder to continue to be positive and have a go at all goals.
Our Aussie flowers may be outrageously beautiful but the sun ‘down under’ can be downright mean. For most of us adults the skin damage is already done, therefore we need to focus on early detection and book regular skin checks and protect our largest organ, our skin. As old as the message is, we all need to remind our family and friends to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.
I love to raise awareness of millinery and outback Australia but I also feel the need to raise awareness of our harmful rays and the greatness of early detection in the fight against skin cancer. Hats, health and happiness are my parting words for today. Along with a huge thank you to my friends as I near my third New York Fashion Week. Thank you to my feather collectors and inspiration gatherers – this upcoming collection will be the work of us all.
It’s time for me to get lost in my studio shed and start creating. Chat again in a month or two and in the meantime, here’s a snippet of my past two years on the runway of NYFW.
Can I do this a third time? … blooming oath I can!
“A penny for your thoughts” I said to my friends, when the inner turmoil grew.
The invitation to return to New York Fashion Week for the third year in a row was almost too much. What an honour! What a road, what an incredible opportunity – what an expense!
I often wonder if anyone else has the inner battles between their adventurous and sensible self’s. The invitation brought an instant smile from ear to ear. I was designing catwalk creations, planning the collection, the feathers, the styles, the models outfits, the trip … and then Miss sensible entered the room, crossed her arms and reminded me of the mortgage.
Broome to the Big Apple is no small feat but what important things in life aren’t big? It’s the challenge that brings the reward and we all know I live the cliché’ that life is too short, but there’s still that one little Mr Men book that re-appears from the shelf …
In an attempt to put both egos to good use , I packed my car with a whiteboard, calculator, pens, paper and planner and headed on a solo adventure south of Broome; to one of my special places, with magical memories and ocean calm.
A few days prior I emailed some friends who would tell me if I was mad to consider the NYFW contract again or alternatively, mad not to. If anyone is going to be honest, it’s our good friends. And if there’s one place to find clarity it’s on a remote beach. As the sun set over the ocean on full tide I crunched numbers, scribbled pros and cons and sifted through the suggestions, ideas and cautions that had been on my mind and had come from my friends.
The decision is the right one – two just wasn’t enough. I’ve signed the contract and I’m going back to New York. I’ve just got to go for the luck of the third adventure.
And again, if you are interested, I’d love you to be involved. As well as crunching numbers that special place had me designing creations and for this year’s runway show I want to honour Australia’s stunning flora and fauna, be it from the desert, the mountains or the sea. If you come across any flowers and plants that make you stop in awe, please take a pic for me. I want to create a collection inspired by our beautiful flowers and plants and showcase our striking frontier land.
This pictorial bloom of inspiration will collate in an album on the Hats by Felicity Facebook page and there’ll be prizes for the pic of pics, to add to the fun.
2016 is going to be another big year for us all. Everyone has challenges and decisions to make. Some of us will achieve the goals and some will be led to another path. Whatever the journey is for you, I wish you great health, happiness and safety, and inspiration for the road.
And to my buddies, thank you.
This is our now, and third time’s a charm.
Since my return from the U.S. and New York Fashion Week, my hands have enjoyed some well-earned millinery rest.
Apart from the last few bespoke orders for Melbourne’s Spring Carnival, it’s been needle and thread down and time to reflect and plan. I utilise this quieter part of year to take some time out from creating and instead work on my Hats by Felicity business, and I was doing exactly that when the invitation to appear on the Network Seven Sunrise Program appeared.
With a fear of public speaking, it was instant turmoil for me. I knew what an amazing opportunity this was but I also knew this meant facing my fear in front of a nation! I know I’ve just showcased on the runway of NYFW but believe me, appearing live on morning television in front of your home land is completely different. Within 24 hours and with little time to think or dwell, I was at the Broome airport departures lounge anxiously watching my collection of headwear load into the under carry of the plane.
A fish out of water is what I felt like when I hit the big Sydney smoke. The last thing I’d prepared for was arriving into rain and a chilly wind. My poor cardi excuse for warmth was just not going to cut it.
It was late when I slumped into bed. The three hour time difference made it 11pm and I had to be up at 5am, which was 2am in Broome, so of course I didn’t sleep a wink. Instead I watched the sun rise over Sydney before nervously heading to Network Seven studios in the rain.
Thank goodness for smart phones, I may have arrived at the wrong reception but in the right building at least and as I awkwardly juggled the box of hats around the street corner, I found myself at the windows where we see Sunrise viewers waving into the show. Part of me wanted to hold the box of hats high with a big smile but I decided it was best to take my wet hair and baggy eyes straight past the cameras and inside.
I wondered how on earth I ended up here as I walked past corridors of familiar celebrity faces framed on the walls. On about my 15th nervous trip to the bathroom I ran into newsreader Nat Barr, and shrieked “hi” like an excited mad woman before realising Nat would not have a clue who I was. We proceeded to yarn as we held open the bathroom door before I thought – heck, I should just let her go to the loo. After all, she probably only had a three minute break and I had taken up two!
The models they’d arranged for me were a dream – five lovely young women who were both professional and fun and as each of them returned from hair and makeup with piece positioned and big smile I was excited and extremely proud. When they said they felt so happy in the hats I took the moment to explain the dictionary meaning of Felicity and hence ethos of my business, being “happiness” and “bliss”. I welcomed them to smile if they felt happy as they showcased Hats by Felicity and their reactions to this suggestion grew the smile upon me.
When I entered the studio the girls were standing in line with the camera panning a sneak preview for our segment coming up. I was petrified.
With rescue remedy under and over my tongue and throughout my mouth (instructions were too small to read) I took my place where the girls had been, as they were led off stage ready to present. Seeing my toilet mate Nat was comforting and Sam Armytage too was a delight. I tried desperately not to notice the cameras knowing only too well it was all about to happen as the stage manager pronounced three … two … one!
With the focus on the hats and not a clue there was a camera on me I survived my Sunrise appearance and the reaction from the studio floor was great. I had little idea what I’d said or done or what the wider community had just seen but the models wore my hats and their smiles to perfection so I knew it was all going to be OK.
It was such a privilege to introduce viewers to the individual stories of each creation among which was CondoBelle.
CondoBelle represents friendship, bubbles and fun. I created CondoBelle to honour my very precious friends, who over the past two years travelled to the U.S. to be with me at the NYFW events; amazing women who helped make each event happen and were right there by my side.
By way of thanks and with the greatest joy, I have gifted CondoBelle to these particular friends, as our headpiece creation to share, that will enjoy a life on the road travelling to the many racetracks around Oz, perhaps even beyond …
Keep your eyes out for CondoBelle over the coming years, and if you spot her out and about, say hello to the very precious friend of mine, upon whom she will adorn.
In the meantime, through the below link, I’d love to introduce you to all my creations that travelled to the big smoke to appear on the big screen. Perhaps as you spot CondoBelle send a little cheers to all the wonderful friends in all of our lives. Xf
Snips and threads about hats, hat making, & fashion
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... with Felicity
Hats by Felicity