Donna Hartley Millinery was born as a close friendship of two ladies, Donna and Joanne. They moved to Spain where they create their headpieces. So you can read about this interesting brand and also about the presence at London Fashion Week.
What sparked me into millinery?
Donna: When I was 18 years of age I studied Fashion and Design at Batley Art College in England. Following my studies I got a job at a prestigious Wedding Dress Designer called Beverly Summers. I worked 6 years for Bev as her apprentice and second designer to her business. My interest in hats came from this point as I started to create headpieces for the bridal gowns. As time moved on I became more inspired to design and make headpieces as opposed to wedding gowns.
I left Beverly Summers and started a millinery course and this is where it all began. I was lucky to secure a work placement with Herald and Heart Hatters as part of my course at college and then had the great fortune of being offered a full time job with them once I finished my course.
Joanne: Throughout my life I have being artistic and creative, having known Donna for many years I have watched her develop through her career and have always been interested in her work.; especially when she started her Millinery journey. As we got older and our lives took different paths the fascinating hat world remained an interest within me. The decision to go into partnership two and half years ago enabled me to realise my millinery dream.
What is inspiring for you and where do you take your inspiration from?
D: I have always liked beautiful things; this can be anything from natural stone formations to the cut of a beautiful outfit. Black and white movies, the 1940’s era and certain actresses for example have given me inspiration; however I feel it is important that whilst taking inspiration from other great periods or people that I maintain my own individuality when designing headwear.
J: Inspiration for me comes from how I feel; my natural aura can change on a daily basis like walking in the Spanish mountains to swimming in the sea or just simply having great fun with friends and family. Some mornings I can wake up and know I want to paint or create something new from various different media. I love working with different textures and materials to see what forms and shapes can be created. Inspiration for me is thinking outside the box.
Would you tell us more about how you work for example do you create together or does one make sketches whilst the other makes the final hat?
D&J: We have to answer this together; as all decisions and creations are jointly made. Donna draws an idea and we discuss if we want to change anything and then we work through the process of blocking, making and finishing the end product. We both love to try new fabrics and different materials for our collections and also take great pleasure in creating prototypes for new hat shapes. They may not always turn out how you first originally want but that is the joy of trying something new. When creating a collection we work out what we want to achieve and then we will both work on separate hats but each other knowing what the end piece is going to be. It is important that we both understand the construction of each individual hat for future reference.
What is our biggest success?
D&J: We have been in business for two and half years. We started trading in May 2015. The process of setting up a business in general is hard enough but when you are doing this in Spanish it brings on a whole new challenge. However this was conquered by sheer determination and having a good sense of humour!!!! So for us this feels like our biggest success but at the end of the day a beautifully created collection or a simple elegant headpiece finished to perfection is always a success for us.
Are you thinking of doing hats for men aswel?
D&J: As far as making hats for Men; we do make them but for private commissions. We don’t offer a range of men’s hats as the market has incredible producers with years of experience and at the moment this is something that we are not looking to do…