Haidee Neill, the founder of a unique handcrafted millinery and accessories brand - Miss Haidee Millinery, comes from a beautiful little island in Australia. It’s known as the Apple Isle as they say they grow the best apples there. Any idea which island are we talking about here?! Yes, you’re right if you were about to say Tasmania – the 26th largest island in the world and one of the most beautiful.
Her family breeds racehorses in Scone, Australia and a few have travelled to the UK to race. Now that’s what we call an ideal milliner, combining the love of passion for hats and horseracing.
She comes from a large family with 5 siblings, and her being the eldest, well actually the second eldest out of all. Confusing, right? We had the same confused look on our face when we read that!
Here's a Fun Fact about Haidee: She has a twin sister about half an hour older than her which apparently makes her the second eldest of all her siblings.
Unlike Haidee, her twin sister is sporty and Haidee has always been very arty so there was never any competition between them. But her younger brother, being a furniture designer in London was quite a competition for her and for a while they competed on which magazines they had been featured in.
You clearly had a fun and memorable childhood. Could you share one of your most favourite memories as a child?
My first art teacher had this huge bag of beads and said we could make anything we liked. I was so happy and created many pieces with those beads. She looked at them and told me that I was so creative, and creativity is contagious.
My science teacher could see that I was making poly clay brooches in class and would ask me to stay back after class to tell me off...then say I'll buy that one that one and that one! I am still making and selling the same design I made then in that class 35 years later, improved but 80% the same hair accessories.
Another fun fact about Haidee - Millinery was not her first choice, she actually wanted to study photography and drawing at university.
How did you start your millinery journey then?
I applied for photography and drawing and did not get a chance in the first year, so I went to TAFE instead and did millinery as part of the clothing design module. I loved every bit of it as it was so traditional with no glue, and I love hand sewing. But I did end up at University the following year studying drawing, photography, ceramics, and design which adds to my hat design process.
Haidee’s dad breeds horses and as they started winning the races, the demand for larger glamorous hats was needed. Haidee has made hair accessories and sold them since she was a little girl of about 10 years old, and successfully started doing millinery full time about 10 years back.
How would you describe your signature style? What materials do you often use for your designs?
I enjoy working with my hands. When it comes to materials, I love to work with straw, and block on my vintage hostess style hat block. It seems to be my go-to hat block as it suits most people. I also love lining my hats in bright floral silks and gold braids. As a signature style, I always leave a little four-leaf clover charm hidden in my hats.
Miss Haidee won 'fashions on the field' millinery awards and front covers of many magazines. She has also been lucky with magazine publications.
What's your proudest moment in your millinery career?
My proudest moment was walking in to see my hat at my first X Terrace London Hat Week Exhibition in London with my family and to be told it has sold without the buyer even trying it on! One of the first to sell and she was not a small hat.
You have come a long way since the since the sweet 10-year-old little girl playing with beads and poly clay brooches to covers of many magazines globally. We would like to hear about your prediction on trends for hat wearing. What style or colour would you recommend for 2020?
I can see large Dallas style white hats, lots of baby blues, peach, terracotta and sage.
We would love to hear about your sunny studio time and how you connect with your clients there.
I get a lot of mothers of the bride and racegoers; I can picture their hat as soon as they walk in. I'll do a little sketch and see their dress; I like to take a photo so I can visualize the client while I am making the hat.
They do have to trust me a lot, which is hard for a first-time hat wearer, I have never disappointed a client and usually get hugged and a few tears as it just suits them and they are so happy that is the joy of the shop / studio.
Any tips for the aspiring milliners who want to start their own millinery brand?
Having an eye for style, colour, balance, and texture is crucial. Millinery has all the arts involved and its important to know when to stop.
Haidee loves making custom made hats and has a ready to wear collection of over 60 incredible hats to turn heads at all kinds of occasions.
Finally, any message for The Hat Circle customers and partners about you and your brand?
I would like to welcome all the hat lovers to my beautiful sunny studio in Battery Point, Tasmania. A cute historical town in the centre of our capital city.
Calling all hat lovers! If you are planning your next vacation on the beautiful island in Australia, don’t forget to visit Miss Haidee’s beautiful studio in Tasmania. We heard there is even a horse drawn carriage that sits outside.
Until next time...
The Hat CIrcle Team