Anyone can tell you that millinery is a combination of techniques, materials and an eye for details. It is a craft where fine lines and small details are the corner stone of what sets true bespoke and store bought pieces apart. Each milliner has their own style, their own mark and each has their own place in the industry. For milliner Julie Herbert, her place has been found in bridal millinery. Her success is going from leaps to bounds receiving recognition as a finalist for both Young Entrepreneur for Women out West Awards, and ABIA Awards NSW for Bridal Accessories. She also had her headpieces on a runway for the first time ever this year at the Australian Bridal Industry Awards in Sydney and collaborated with Bridal Gown Designer Corston Couture from Sydney. This remarkable woman has been able to achieve all this whilst working full time and recovering from a cornea transplant. Julie is testament to the concept of never giving up on your dreams, no matter the obstacles you face.
What do you love most about millinery?
That I can improvise in my work, I love trialling different materials and I love to have a vision and then put it together. It is great that millinery is coming back to life.
How did you get into millinery?
I had decided to goto spotlight (yes cringe now) but I bought sinamay and some feathers and veiling and wanted to make something for a race meeting for my one year anniversary with my boyfriend then, now husband. I am very crafty/arty and used to paint and draw and in my family everyone is crafty including my mum and my nana. Nana made roses from ribbon. I decided to just make basic headpieces initially, but then decided to go to the International Millinery Forum in Wagga. After that I did a cert II in Millinery, traveled to "Hats Off" in Brisbane then back to Wagga again this year to learn more skills. I just loved it and wanted to start making race headpieces etc then I got into bridal wear.
How you would describe your designs?
Bridal - Exclusive, lovely with lace and swarovski, silk, satin, organza flowers, feathers.
Race Pieces - One offs - symmetrical, bright, loud and I even had a a lady say to me yesterday at my pop up shop that she thought they were stunning and 1920's style. I love making headpieces mainly, but do like to make myself experiment and try out new things. I like to be an individual, a leader and not a follower in my work.
What is your ideal customer?
Most of my customers like to ask me to create something in my view, but I do like to ask my customers to work with me as well, so then I can have an idea of what their styles are in both bridal and race days. I have customers that want to buy something from my ready made collection on my online shop but then also have customers that want to have something to match their dress for which i am very accommodating.
What inspires you?
I am a very passionate person who loves to listen and go to seminars including Tony Robbins and Dr Wayne Dyer who I saw just in 2015. I also like talking to fellow milliners and love how we all come together as one to talk about styles, inspirations etc. I just like to get up out of bed and know that I can be what I want to be and am happy with my life, I have a great family who love being there by my side.
You have made it to the finals of the Out West NSW Young Entreprenur Award and ABIA NSW Bridal Accessories Award, can you tell us a little bit about whats involved in this and what it means for your millinery business?
Funny enough I saw on TV a couple of months ago about the Women Out West Awards that will be held in Dubbo in November and only a month ago I found out I have become a finalist, I was nomintated by someone. I actually don't know who it was who nominated me but the category is "Innovative Spirit". The prize is awarded to a young woman from ‘The Next Generation’ whose innovative spirit inspires youth with her vision, leadership and achievements.
The ABIA Awards for NSW is a very special one for me as I came Runner Up last year and was so close with Viktoria Novak, another bridal milliner. It really helped my business with recognition of all of the work I have done for my bridal clients. I ask my bridal clients to do a survey for me that is through ABIA which then the scores/percentages of customer service to product, it is then counted and then totalled. It is a yearly award so for 2016 I am very honoured to have my bridal clients nominate me as a finalist again, the awards will be held 6 December in Cockle Bay Wharf which I will be attending with my husband Gavin.
What is your favourite material to work with?
I am a big fan of silk abaca at the moment, I do sit there and start moving the abaca around to get shapes but I know that I cant make the exact piece again. I also love guipure lace.
Whats your best millinery tip?
Be patient in what you do, I sometimes like to come back to my work if I am not feeling creative.
What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery and how do you overcome it?
I would have to say the price of my pieces, it is a very big industry now and we are facing having customers wanting an amazing headpiece for a small budget. I always discuss with my customers about the work that I do, the time and also of the costs that we face for materials, whilst giving them options and asking what their budget is. Also letting the customer know that I make everything from scratch, including flowers. They are always amazed and don't realise that I don't buy my flowers etc. from the big retailers, everything is handmade and hand-sewn and I take time to get it right.
Famous words to live by.
'When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist.' The late Dr Wayne Dyer who I saw last year at a seminar.
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