Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hi I'm Carrie and I make hats, that's my tag line, but it sort of explains what I do! I'm self-taught, learning as I go, and I'm on my 4th year of running my own business. I'm also a mum of 3 and have a fashion background for the last 20 years. I love colour and texture, I'm just drawn to the natural world.
What does your creative career involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
I spend a lot of time shopping or people watching either in markets, charity shops and independent retailers, for inspiration, I use these as resources for new ideas I will often see one thing and then work on an idea and build the colour and shape from that inspiration, then I will find and order the flowers for that piece, I work on my pieces first thing in the morning, I can take on the world at 5am my creativity seems to come best then, I stop at lunchtime and don't pick anything up again until the next morning, the rest of my day involves social media, photography and packaging orders
What does being a hatmaker mean to you?
I have made dresses and costumes previously for photography shoots, but with headpieces and headdresses, these seem to be the foundation of an outfit. I like the way customers build an outfit from something I created that makes me feel very proud.
What’s great about your job?
Working for myself, and seeing my beautiful brides, models and customers wearing my pieces gives me the greatest pleasure.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
When I first started I was very open about lending my pieces out I lost a lot at the start as I didn't believe in myself enough, I judged my own work as inferior and gave things away. I have learnt the hard way with the collaborative process of creativity, it taught me a lot I'm glad I had those experiences now. I found that I could build my own collaborative teams for advertising and promotion and work with some of the most amazing creatives all on the same wavelength of understanding, I do still get lots of enquiries but I have learnt how to say no If the enquiry doesn't suit my pieces, but it's still difficult to say no sometimes.
Do you think there’s any misconceptions with your job?
Yes most definitely, people have often commented that my work is neat and tidy, my studio is a tip, I haven't seen my desk since 2019. I have a tiny corner left to work on, I have piles of leaves and flower buds everywhere, pots and plates of gemstones decorate every available flat surface, random paint splotches and ribbons everywhere, but I work in organised chaos.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
Royal Ascot 2019 - the next day my parents sent a picture to me of that day's newspaper with not one, but two of my hats on my beautiful customer! I cried, then that afternoon I got a message to say to turn the television on and my third hat appeared on another of my customers, who was being interviewed for ITV, those images were then used across the internet and many publications, I had emailed from as far away as Mexico and Australia it was amazing.
I also regularly organise photography shoots as a collaborative effort, these create content for each supplier, I've made real friends through these all different types of creativity which I do believe give us all inspiration and motivation.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I worked in a fashion background both retail and then in vintage fashion, I modelled for a short time, I wanted to do something different and made my own costumes and headpieces this was the start of my business.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
Learning to believe in myself, and my work, I have my own style and I've learnt to work with it rather than try and fit in, I've been criticised and been told unkind things about my style of work, I'm a maximalist - I don't do small pieces, I've tried but they no longer look like my work, as long as I love what I've made then I know that someone else will too.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
The pandemic has been a terrible time, I was so excited for Ascot 2020 I built a beautiful collection over the winter of 2019. I really invested so much time and effort before the pandemic hit, but these things are out of everyone's control, last summer still brought good things to the industry I learnt how to work in a more organized way I still managed to create some beautiful images with small teams and I learnt that we can all adapt to working in strange times.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Go to college ... I was offered a place at art college when I was 15 and I decided in all my 15 years of wisdom I'd be better at work in a factory, partying hard from Wednesday night to Tuesday evening would be more beneficial than college I had just the best time and met so many amazing people, but I could have gained myself some formal training and education. I'm self-taught now but I don't have the theory skills that would benefit my job now.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
Yes, always believe in yourself, there is only one of you and your style of work, take inspiration from everything and everywhere you go it's important to always be kind to yourself too.