Meet Chloe Mitchell: The lady who makes hats for a living : Evewoman - The Standard
Evewoman-logo

Trendsetters

Chloe Mitchell: I make hats for a living and I’m loving every bit of it

ALSO READ: Huddah vs Vera: Who is your fashion trendsetter?

Chloe Mitchell, a milliner, a person who makes and sells hats. She specializes in unique and vibrant made-to-order hats, headpieces, turbans, buttons and fascinators through her millinery Drop of a Hat by Chloe. She sits with Lucy Robi to chat about everything millinery

 

What drew you to making hats? Did you always love hats?

Ever since I was little, my mother spoke about how my Great Aunt Dora was a hat maker and that I could if I wanted to, also become a hat maker (there seemed to be no real milliners in Kenya at the time). When I left school, I didn’t feel any need or desire to go to university and I took my mother’s advice and set off to do a course in millinery with the milliner who had made a number of the Queen Mothers hats and I fell in love with millin?e?ry!


What do you enjoy most about your work?

Seeing the hats and headpieces come to life on a client, and I love to see a client feeling confident, sophisticated and special! We recently had a client who came to us in need of a hat for a very special occasion. After the occasion she contacted us saying, “I’ve never been a hat person but so enjoyed wearing your hat, that I’m now a convert!”


Have you ever faced any obstacles running your business?  If so how did you overcome them? 

ALSO READ: Down but not out: Serena Williams warms hearts with inspiration message to mothers after losing match

So far the only obstacle I face is getting a number of people understand the craft of millinery, and enlightening them to understand why a handmade bespoke hat costs more than a factory made one despite the fact that my prices are less than what a handmade hat would cost in the UK.


Did you train as a milliner? How long did it take?

Yes, I did train to become a milliner with several millinery teachers. Millinery is not something you ever stop learning about as it covers many designs, fabrics and techniques. 


Describe the process of making a hat in general terms

If one is making a felt based hat, you begin with a floppy cone shape of felt and from there you manipulate it into the shape and treat it as required to become an elegant hat. A hat from start to finish can take 2-3 days if the work is constant. However, with every design, the time spent may differ. The materials used depend on the design of the hat?; however, in terms of what I use, I always choose the finest materials available. 

 

ALSO READ: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: Running a country in between diaper changes

How do you match the hat to the person and their sense of style?

I take a head measurement and ask the client to try on different shapes to see what best suits their need and looks and also what the client feels comfortable wearing. Being comfortable in wearing a hat is so important because if one does not feel comfortable it shows. Specific face shapes and features are taken into consideration when it comes to the design, size of brim, shape, and colour. 


Which hat from your current collection is your favourite and why?

I’d say my favourite is the Rodine Bowler from the ‘Wildlife Conservation’ collection I have done. It is incredibly unique and has a meaning and significance behind the design to create awareness for wildlife conservation and to help spread the message to stand against poaching of our beautiful animals. The hat took 3 weeks from start to finish to complete and with its sale, a percentage of proceeds goes towards helping the elephants. One of my wildlife collection hats that was commissioned to be worn to Ascot is now becoming a work of art and will be used at a function to raise money for wildlife at Hemingways, Nairobi this week. Another from my w?ildlife collection was worn by Lupita when she was in Kenya.


What would you describe as your typical client and typical hat?

My typical client is someone who likes to look elegant and perhaps be protected from the sun, and the most typical hat for my sales is my safari style hats. I have commissions to make Bridal headpieces and special ‘Mother of the Bride’ Hats to match or compliment their outfits and have had six hats being worn at Buckingham Palace this year for clients accompanying their spouses or receiving Awards themselves from the Queen. One of these included a gentleman’s Bespoke Top Hat with a Kenyan touch of Kikoy, that was worn at the Palace when he went to receive the George Cross, a very special Award from Her Majesty the Queen, an award that had not been given for about 40 years. 


Do you make hats for men as well as women - if so what percentage of your business is for men?

Yes, I make hats for both men and women. To begin with the percentage was very low about 15 per cent. However, as the trend was being set and men are becoming more fashion conscious here in Kenya, the number has risen to approximately 40 per cent.


What (or who) inspires your work? Do you have sources that you go to for “creative recharging”?

I am inspired by the natural beauty around, we live in a beautiful country so it is easy to draw inspiration out of it. I am also inspired to try and bring meaning and significance through the hats and make an impact in the world and one way I have done that is through my Wildlife conservation collection. I am inspired by my friend, a well-loved milliner and milliner to the Royals from Denmark, Susanne Juul.

We are focusing on custom work and the preservation of certain art forms.

 

Tell us some of the defining characteristics that make a hand shaped Drop of a Hat creation very different from a “manufactured” hat. 

Everything in a handmade hat is different from a manufactured hat. Initially there is a lot of thought that goes into a design - angles, fabric, decor, weight and much more. From there the hats are made by hand, from the shaping, to the stitching of every single detail. In the case of Drop of a Hat by Chloe, our stitching in the binding, head ribbons and trimmings are sewn with the utmost care and perfection in order to ensure no stitch can be seen. Thirdly, a handmade hat is made with love and hours and hours of patience and attention. It is unique. Not something that is made in a factory and is so common that you can find several or hundreds on the sides of the roads.

 

We do not put any ready-made decor on our hats.  We make all our own flowers and leaves from various fabrics including silk and leather as well as the feather and beaded hat bands.

 

If someone wakes up tomorrow and decides they too want to be a milliner- what is the process - is it still primarily a process of going through an apprenticeship?  

To be honest, I am not sure if apprenticeships are available in this field. One could either go overseas to a fashion school or to do millinery courses. 

 

Drop of a Hat Millinery:

www.dropofahat.me  

FB: Drop of A Hat

 

Chloe Mitchell, a milliner, a person who makes and sells hats. She specializes in unique and vibrant made-to-order hats, headpieces, turbans, buttons and fascinators through her millinery Drop of a Hat by Chloe. She sits with Lucy Robi to chat about everything millinery

 

What drew you to making hats? Did you always love hats?

Ever since I was little, my mother spoke about how my Great Aunt Dora was a hat maker and that I could if I wanted to, also become a hat maker (there seemed to be no real milliners in Kenya at the time). When I left school, I didn’t feel any need or desire to go to university and I took my mother’s advice and set off to do a course in millinery with the milliner who had made a number of the Queen Mothers hats and I fell in love with millin?e?ry!


What do you enjoy most about your work?

Seeing the hats and headpieces come to life on a client, and I love to see a client feeling confident, sophisticated and special! We recently had a client who came to us in need of a hat for a very special occasion. After the occasion she contacted us saying, “I’ve never been a hat person but so enjoyed wearing your hat, that I’m now a convert!”


Have you ever faced any obstacles running your business?  If so how did you overcome them? 

So far the only obstacle I face is getting a number of people understand the craft of millinery, and enlightening them to understand why a handmade bespoke hat costs more than a factory made one despite the fact that my prices are less than what a handmade hat would cost in the UK.


Did you train as a milliner? How long did it take?

Yes, I did train to become a milliner with several millinery teachers. Millinery is not something you ever stop learning about as it covers many designs, fabrics and techniques. 


Describe the process of making a hat in general terms

If one is making a felt based hat, you begin with a floppy cone shape of felt and from there you manipulate it into the shape and treat it as required to become an elegant hat. A hat from start to finish can take 2-3 days if the work is constant. However, with every design, the time spent may differ. The materials used depend on the design of the hat?; however, in terms of what I use, I always choose the finest materials available. 

 

How do you match the hat to the person and their sense of style?

I take a head measurement and ask the client to try on different shapes to see what best suits their need and looks and also what the client feels comfortable wearing. Being comfortable in wearing a hat is so important because if one does not feel comfortable it shows. Specific face shapes and features are taken into consideration when it comes to the design, size of brim, shape, and colour. 


Which hat from your current collection is your favourite and why?

I’d say my favourite is the Rodine Bowler from the ‘Wildlife Conservation’ collection I have done. It is incredibly unique and has a meaning and significance behind the design to create awareness for wildlife conservation and to help spread the message to stand against poaching of our beautiful animals. The hat took 3 weeks from start to finish to complete and with its sale, a percentage of proceeds goes towards helping the elephants. One of my wildlife collection hats that was commissioned to be worn to Ascot is now becoming a work of art and will be used at a function to raise money for wildlife at Hemingways, Nairobi this week. Another from my w?ildlife collection was worn by Lupita when she was in Kenya.


What would you describe as your typical client and typical hat?

My typical client is someone who likes to look elegant and perhaps be protected from the sun, and the most typical hat for my sales is my safari style hats. I have commissions to make Bridal headpieces and special ‘Mother of the Bride’ Hats to match or compliment their outfits and have had six hats being worn at Buckingham Palace this year for clients accompanying their spouses or receiving Awards themselves from the Queen. One of these included a gentleman’s Bespoke Top Hat with a Kenyan touch of Kikoy, that was worn at the Palace when he went to receive the George Cross, a very special Award from Her Majesty the Queen, an award that had not been given for about 40 years. 


Do you make hats for men as well as women - if so what percentage of your business is for men?

Yes, I make hats for both men and women. To begin with the percentage was very low about 15 per cent. However, as the trend was being set and men are becoming more fashion conscious here in Kenya, the number has risen to approximately 40 per cent.


What (or who) inspires your work? Do you have sources that you go to for “creative recharging”?

I am inspired by the natural beauty around, we live in a beautiful country so it is easy to draw inspiration out of it. I am also inspired to try and bring meaning and significance through the hats and make an impact in the world and one way I have done that is through my Wildlife conservation collection. I am inspired by my friend, a well-loved milliner and milliner to the Royals from Denmark, Susanne Juul.

We are focusing on custom work and the preservation of certain art forms.

 

Tell us some of the defining characteristics that make a hand shaped Drop of a Hat creation very different from a “manufactured” hat. 

Everything in a handmade hat is different from a manufactured hat. Initially there is a lot of thought that goes into a design - angles, fabric, decor, weight and much more. From there the hats are made by hand, from the shaping, to the stitching of every single detail. In the case of Drop of a Hat by Chloe, our stitching in the binding, head ribbons and trimmings are sewn with the utmost care and perfection in order to ensure no stitch can be seen. Thirdly, a handmade hat is made with love and hours and hours of patience and attention. It is unique. Not something that is made in a factory and is so common that you can find several or hundreds on the sides of the roads.

 

We do not put any ready-made decor on our hats.  We make all our own flowers and leaves from various fabrics including silk and leather as well as the feather and beaded hat bands.

 

If someone wakes up tomorrow and decides they too want to be a milliner- what is the process - is it still primarily a process of going through an apprenticeship?  

To be honest, I am not sure if apprenticeships are available in this field. One could either go overseas to a fashion school or to do millinery courses. 

 

Drop of a Hat Millinery:

www.dropofahat.me  

FB: Drop of A Hat

 

SignUp For Newsletter

Get amazing content delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to our daily Newsletter.

Latest Stories

Popular Stories