First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?
Hello, I’m Maggie Mowbray. I established Maggie Mowbray Millinery in 2012 and create luxury millinery for clients around the world from my workroom just south of Edinburgh. I have a studio in the centre of Edinburgh where I meet clients wanting to try designs or discuss bespoke options. My range includes hats for the races, such as Royal Ascot, special occasion hats and daywear, such as trilbies and berets. I design, create and hand finish each design.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, but usually begins with seeing my girls off to school, a run or walk with my dogs before I begin work at 9am; it’s the best commute ever! If it’s a workroom day, I’ll be answering emails, updating the website, making calls, updating social media, designing new collections and a multitude of other things not all in that order before beginning work on customer orders. I tend to finish around 4pm to spend time with my family. Other days, I am in the studio in Edinburgh, meeting clients.
Where does your passion for the industry stem from?
Millinery is a perfect mix of fashion and art. I wanted to study fashion for many years before changing my mind at 17 and studying fine art, so millinery to me feels like a good balance of the two in my life!
Maggie Mowbray Millinery
Did you study? Where?
I studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art; my degree is in Fine Art, not Design, as people generally think. However I think having a fine art background has helped me to visualise and sculpt my designs, it’s a little bit like sketching in 3D.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
My business! It has taken a lot of hard work, and been a huge learning curve but I now have a successful business, which I created from scratch and as a result can spend my working life doing something I love.
Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration?
Philip Treacy, might seem an obvious one for a milliner, but he does create beautiful work; works of beautiful wearable art.
A Philip Treacy creation photographed by Kai Cem Narin
What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future?
I have a wonderful project over the next few months, with another designer on a very Scottish themed collection, it is going to be a big project which will see my designs travelling the globe, so watch this space.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I enjoy the variety in my job. Some days I am meeting customers, others I am working on my website or organising a fashion shoot, I get to meet lots of different people and be creative in whichever way I choose.
Maggie Mowbray Millinery
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career so far and how could it be avoided?
I’m quite spontaneous sometimes and don’t always think decisions through, so I’ve not made any major mistakes but some that have cost me time or money that I should have spent more time thinking about. I now make myself take more time over ideas and big decisions.
What does your workspace look like?
I like to describe it as creative mess! It is the artist in me, always experimenting with different fabrics and feathers etc.
Who is your design inspiration?
I don’t have a ‘who’ but I have many ‘what’s’. I am inspired by nature mostly, flowers and shapes in nature, my last collection was inspired by birds of paradise. Architecture and art have also inspired collections in the past.
Image cc Debora Tingley via Unsplash
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Sleep on it! Sometimes, I can be quite hard on my ideas and myself, things always seem better after a good nights sleep.
What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?
I am excited when presented with new fabrics to work with. I recently bought some eco fabrics made from cork, which I am looking forward to experimenting with.
Find Maggie Mowbray online:
website / twitter / instagram / facebook