Rachel Warrillow runs Warrillow Studios and makes beautiful vegan hats and fascinators. You will find a wonderful array of individually handcrafted fascinators, headpieces and accessories. This award-winning designer-maker provides a PeTA approved selection of headwear for all occasions.
What inspired you to begin a vegan / ethical business?
Millinery started as a hobby for me, beginning after I attended a one day workshop to make my own fascinator… I still don’t have any formal qualifications but learning and creating and experimenting has kept me busy for the last 8 years. Wearing hats can have quite the Marmite effect; there are those that love to wear hats and many who avoid it at all costs, but I fell in love with headwear very quickly and really want to spread the word about how fun, effective and feel-good it can be when you get it right.
Tell us about your business – how many people are in your team? What do you do? How long have you been in business?
My millinery, in growing from hobby to business, has gradually taken over our house! I live with my wonderful husband Dave and our two rescue cats; Twiggy and Special Bert. What was the dining room is now my studio, and there is a spare room is set up for my photography plus more storage. Dave is really supportive. He’s a great sounding board for all my ideas, my editor for any blog posts, the keeper of my diary… basically my left-hand man! I couldn’t have done it without him.
What’s been your proudest moment in your business journey?
When I became vegan myself, it really focused my thinking about how to make hats and indeed, whether I could carry on as a milliner. The industry still places a great deal of emphasis on feathers, silk, leather and felt. Sadly, even fur is still commonplace. I did lots of research of materials available, and of course I had first started out with sinamay, which is plant based; so that would be my foundation material. It has challenged me, focused me and I firmly believe it has improved what I create.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
There are so many many aspects of what I do, that I love. I love to be in my studio working on new designs. Taking on commissions can be an exciting challenge too, trying to bring into reality the ideas someone has. I think the feedback I receive is really rewarding. To see their photos at a special event, wearing something I have made and looking so fabulous never fails to make my day.
It’s also really special to help someone who is perhaps not so keen or used to wearing hats, thereby introducing them to the world of millinery. Often a mother of the bride or groom feels they should wear something on their head but it can be quite a daunting thing for lots of people. I like to get a real feel for my customers, so I can create something that is just right for them, in colour and style. It’s just the best feeling when they say how much they loved their fascinator or headpiece, how many compliments they received and next time they want to go BIGGER!!
What’s next on the horizon for your business? Anything exciting you would like to share?
There are lots of plans for Warrillow. I will be developing my online shop and increasing my range of designs for my international customers throughout the year. I have been having great fun creating some really quirky designs, including a teacup and saucer headpiece, and a desert island which will be revealed soon!
Also this spring I am very happy to say I will be running my own workshops in Birmingham and the West Midlands to enable people to make their own fascinators, as well as running workshops for hen parties. Perhaps that may spark someone else into a creative journey of their own?!
Find Warrillow Studio on Allethical.com
We can’t wait to see when her classes are available.