For most newly retired people, life is about slowing down, enjoying taking time doing things they never got to do while they were working a nine to five and just take life one day at a time. This is not the case for Milliner Alisa Fleming. Alisa is taking every opportunity she gets to feed her passion for millinery since she retired two years ago. Alisa gets up at 7 each morning as though she is going to work and instead, works away in her workshop, creating pieces and perfecting her skills day in day out. Now that she has retired, Alisa enjoys taking her time creating works of art, ensuring that each piece is trimmed to perfection. With such a love and dedication to the craft and the time to work slowly and enjoy the process, Alisa knows that millinery will be a part of her for the rest of her life. Read on to find out more about Alisa's passion for millinery.
What do you love most about Millinery?
The creativity of it all. The process of watching the development of your creation come to life and the reward of seeing the finished product.
How did you get into Millinery?
I've been wearing hats since I was seven, (actually my grandma's hats) watching my grandma wear hats to church. That's when I first fell love with hats. In 2006 I got tired of buying hats to small and never the colour I wanted. That's when I had a lightbulb moment, the thought pop into my mind, how cool it would be to make my own. I then researched online and found a milliner (Mertize Higgins) out to Detroit, who had a small boutique and taught classes. That was the beginning of my journey to hat making. Then came Hat Academy, and it changed my world. It was everything that I had desired to learn about millinery and my prayers were answered.
How you would describe your designs?
My design aesthetic I would describe as being the new old school in living colour. Colours are what drive me, I like putting two to three colours together to see how they mesh.
What is your ideal customer?
A sophisticated and confident woman who dares to be different, and is not afraid of the wow factor.
What inspires you?
Colors and shapes.
If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
Mrs Elaine Mergard, because when I saw her creations on Hat academy, It took my desire to make hats to another level. Watching her videos, made me feel as though I knew her personally.
What is your favourite material to work with?
Sinamay. I am constantly drawn to what it can do, it's easy to work with and manipulate, and it comes in many colours and takes dye well.
Whats your best millinery tip?
If your work or design is not well executed, such as poor stitching, or uneven placement of crown attachment to brim, take it down and re-do it. Don't send out shabby work because your designs are a reflection of you. I've been there. I have had to take down some headpieces, reconstruct, re-stitch or redo the whole thing. And you learn lessons
along the way. I can tell the quality of my work has improved greatly from the time I started til now.
What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
Finding the right materials here in the USA, mainly Hat boxes. Most milliners can't afford to buy 1000 hat boxes at one time. We need to be able to buy small custom quantities. How do I overcome things? I figure out another way to accomplish the same thing. For example: if you can't find an extra large flower to put on a hat, learn how to make your own.
Famous words to live by...
"To Have something you've never had, you must do something you've never done" and "Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open."
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