Georgina Heffernan meets milliner Loraine Dominican who has created works of art.
Georgina Heffernan: Did you always want to be a milliner?
Loraine Dominican: No, not always - but I studied Fashion Design for three years and by the end of that time I knew that I wanted to create beautiful accessories full time. It just took me a while to discover hats and headwear and my love of making them. Now I can't imagine doing anything else!
What's the inspiration behind your creations?
I'm inspired by so many different things when I'm creating a piece but overall my work is strongly influenced by my love of femme fatales, the 1920's with its flappers and frivolity, olde world burlesque and the ever iconic Marie Antoinette. My bridal collection is vintage inspired with lots of lace, pearls and vintage brooches. But every now and again I will make a piece that is inspired by nothing other than the material I have in front of me - just for fun - to see what happens.
Who is your favourite milliner and why?
There are many milliners that I love but my favourite has to be Piers Atkinson for his originality and off the wall ideas for hats and headpieces. He is a creative genius. I am also a huge fan of Kim Brown-Dye of Topsy Turvy Design. I absolutely adore her Victoriana style top hats and burlesque inspired headpieces!
Was it tough getting started in business?
Yes, and it still is tough! It's such an expensive business to start off as there are so many costs involved from the endless amounts of materials needed to the packaging and display. Then there's the promotion side of things on top of that. It's very tough when you're doing everything youself, as there are so many different parts to the business that all need equal attention in order for you to succeed. Plus, there's so much competition out there at the moment - you really have to work hard in order to get noticed and to get your brand out there in a meaningful way.
What has been your greatest achievement in your career to date?
Setting up this business and making it survive in a recession has been my greatest achievement to date! It took a long time for me to pluck up the courage and leave my previous job in order to follow my dreams. It's been extremely hard work and a struggle at times to survive but I have done it all myself, with all my own money and that's something I'm very proud of.
Describe your own personal style?
For everyday wear I love my skinny jeans, ankle boots and lacey tops/dresses accessoried with pearls, cameo brooches, big scarves, vintage brooches and a big bag! Accessories are key to my look always. For dressing up I love the silhouette of the 1940's so I adore pencil skirts, tailored jackets, waisted belts and my long black velvet gloves and of course my red lipstick!
Have you had to streamline your business as a result of the recession? How has it impacted you and your peers in the fashion industry?
Yes, when I first started the business I was catering for everybody looking for a headpiece/hat. I was making for mother of the brides, brides, wedding guests, the races plus making some jewellery and accessories. However, over the last year or so, the Irish market has become saturated with milliners. Plus, many women are having a go at making their own hats for special occasions. This meant that I had to streamline in order to grow and keep my business relevant. Now I'm concentrating mostly on my vintage inspired bridal collection, pieces for Wedding Guests who are looking for something a little bit different and also selling online.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
The satisfaction of being creative every day. When I finish making a piece that's been in my head or on a piece of paper for so long and it turns out even better than I had imagined...that is the best feeling. Also seeing the excitment on my customers faces when they try on a piece I've made for them. Their reaction makes me very happy and means I'm doing my job right.
Where do you see the brand going in the future?
In the future I see my brand continuing to grow and expand, but always remaining a handmade label. I'd love to be stocked in shops outside of Ireland and hopefully one day in a shop of my own. But the most important thing to me is that my work always retains its uniqueness and continues to appeal to my target market of vintage and old world burlesque loving ladies of all ages!
What's your motto?
Good things come to those who wait and always follow your dreams!
Mes Petits Chapeaux
(086) 8479 498 | firstname.lastname@example.org