If there is one thing that one can observe from looking over UK milliner, Sally Harper-Kenn hats, it is that: the bigger and bolder the better! Sally relishes in the delight that free form millinery can provide to both herself and her customers, allowing their hats to become an extension of themselves whilst making a bold statement. Sally has found her passion in making hats for racegoers and has enjoyed the success of her customers in many fashion compeitions. Whilst she has enjoyed many successes, recruiting new customers can be challenging from time to time so, utilising social media and networking has been an instrumental tool to bring her business to new customers. Read on to find out more about what Sally Harper-Kenn from Sharper Millinery has to say about her wonderful world of millinery.
What do you love most about millinery?
I love making free form millinery and the freedom and creativity it gives me to create new and unusual shapes. There is also the satisfaction of seeing my work proudly worn by my lovely customers. I think that a hat can totally change an outfit and make the wearer feel very special indeed.
How did you get into millinery?
Purely by accident. I was studying a textile MA and started to research fashion from the Edwardian period. The hats stood out as pure statements and I was intrigued to find out more. I did a few short courses to learn hand blocking techniques and developed my style from there. I also have to thank my aunt Millie who would never ever be seen without a hat!
How you would describe your designs.
Bespoke designs with a touch of quirky elegance.
What is your ideal customer?
I love creating pieces for the races, most of my customers want to stand out from the crowd so they are always looking for something different, which can be very challenging at times. Its more about engineering to get the sculpture to perch perfectly on the head.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by what I see around me, I love creating flowers and organic shapes but also love the structure of a grand building. I am open to new challenges and ideas and when a new client arrives with her outfit, inspiration is determined by the perfect shape and materials to make the outfit complete.
If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be and why.
There are several milliners that I admire and I love the collaboration between Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy when I went to see the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A. If I could also add Isabella Blow to the afternoon that would be an afternoon to remember too!
What is your favourite material to work with?
Anything unusual! I've made hats with astro turf, plastics and paper but my favourite millinery materials is actually classed as a trim. It would have to be crin with its wonderful sculptural potential.
Whats your best millinery tip?
You don't always have to follow the rules!
What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
Making people aware that I create hats! Finding new customers can be a challenge, although I am getting increased word of mouth recommendations and social media is working tremendously well. I don't have a shop front so I go to networking events, shows and ladies lunches to tell potential clients about my work.
Famous words to live by.
Love what you do, life is too short not to!
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