How does the design process start when beginning a new season’s collection?
Before I create a new season I always feel like I have a big scary task ahead of me as I feel that I have to make the collection better than the previous one! I love the challenge of designing new wonderful creations, sourcing new trimmings, having new hat blocks made and deciding what colours I want to be trending this season!
The process begins with me deciding on how many different shape hats I want in the collection. Usually about six and I normally use some shapes from previous seasons and invest in some new hat blocks so a trip to Boon and Lane is booked!
I then decide how many different trims Im going to have. In the SS14 there is 14 different trimmings, I like to have a similar trim on two different style hats so if someone loves the trim but hats the shape hat they have an alternative! This takes time as I try to use unusual trims that I haven’t seen on hats before or previously used.
Variety is the spice of life!! The sketches, doddles and sampling begins! The funnest and most creative part and then somehow it begins to fall in to place and a new collection is born!
How is the typical day of Rosie Olivia, running your own brand?
Rosie Olivia is a one man band at the moment! Every day is different; somedays I am creating hats, some doing the pr and marketing sides of things, sorting events and my favourite is when I see clients for bespoke hats. It is a bit manic at Rosie Olivia but I love it!
I usually get in to the studio between 8.30/9am. Music gets turned on, emails get read, tweets posted and a ‘to do’ list is written. Obviously, there is always things from the precious day that hasn’t been ticked off!
Today, for example, I blocked some hats using the steamer and then sew on the petershams of five hats and finished trimming them in the morning. Stopped for a quick sandwich whilst replying to emails and then nipped out to get some threads from the haberdashery via the post office to send hats out for press. Door bell rings and a client arrives, ends up staying two hours and before I no it, its six o’clock! I usually end up working till quite late as there is alway things to get done but not tonight.. Im showcasing my hats at a charity event!
When did millinery capture your imagination for the first time?
I was in University, driving my self mad about what I could do for my final collection for my degree show. Throwing ideas back and forth, I realised that I wanted to work in the creative industry so this was my chance! I have always loved hats, not a massive wearer, (I am now, as its free advertising!) but intrigued as to how simply a hat can change a whole outfit. Its a great accessory and when one is put on your head its just give you confidence and makes you feel great. I took an internship at Philip Treacy and then created a collection of headwear for my degree show. From then, it was hats and will always be hats!!
Is there one perfect customer (celebrity or other) that has worn your millinery previously or one you would still like to see wearing your designs?
Pippa Middleton and Beatrice York are the most well known ‘celebs’ that I have had wearing my designer hats so far. It sounds cliché but obviously Kate Middleton would be a perfect customer as its seems anything she puts on sells out and she is a massive hat wearer!
After so many huge achievements, which has been the most important for you so far and why?
Walking in to a well known retail store in London on Bond Street and seeing my hats that I have created sat on the shelves along side other well known designers was a great moment!
What was the most important trait or fact you learnt when you worked underneath Philip Treacy?
During my internship at Philip Treacy, I learnt that every single detail has to be perfect; from start to finish. I am a perfectionist myself which helps but I new I wanted to create a high end brand and therefore the products I sell must portray this; hats to be well made, finished with a lining and label and even the hat boxes to be branded and presented to the client perfectly!
You had help launching your brand from the Princes Trust - do you still work with the Trust in anyway or hope to?
I would never be where I am now if it wasn’t for the Princess Trust. I am a creative and now I would say I am a business woman to! I completed the four day Enterprise course which I would highly recommend as well as getting a grant. I value their advice and help more than the grant as they made me question every aspect of my business before putting it in to action and I still regularly meet up with my mentor who is great and guides me in the right direction.
Is there a way you would like to see millinery or people's approach to millinery change or evolve?
YES! I want to see people wearing more hats casually. I feel that alot of people will only wear a hat to a special occasion but actually it is just an accessory. I have clients who really love the fact that my hats are hand made in the Uk from start to finish and I think its important to keep it this way.
Where is the next step for the Rosie Olivia brand?
At the moment my studio is based in Liverpool where I am from and I am currently up and down the M1 meeting new bespoke clients mainly in London so it makes sense for me to move there. This is a big move for me but I am hoping, in the new year to set up a studio and showroom so that people can come to me rather than traveling around with all the hats!
In terms of the actual business size, I am hoping to take on board some milliners to help with the demand as last year during the run up to Royal Ascot, it was manic! I would like to get someone in to help with the pr and marketing as this is a whole job on its own!
I am happy the way things are at the moment, I have a few stockists and have a steady flow of bespoke hat clients. It would be great to increase the numbers and have my brand name Rosie Olivia more established.