1. Why and How did you get into Hat making? What did you do before?
At 18, I started working for a friend's mum, who was a Milliner. I had always been a sewer, making my friends formal dresses and evening wear. I worked in the Millinery industry for 10 years. I moved to France for a few years, where I re-trained as a HatMaker. What I like most about Hat Making - I can now create pieces that last and get better with age.
2. Why should people wear hats?
They show character at first glance. There is so much you can say with a hat and how you wear it. Not to discount the obvious, though, we all know what the Aussie sun can do and wearing a hat is often the first step in taking care of our skin and health.
3. What was the first hat you created, and how do you feel about it now? ( do you have an image? )
Ha! I used to make fabric wide-brimmed hats in High School. They were so cool :)
4. What has been the greatest lesson you have received throughout your career?
I'm still learning. I think that is the biggest lesson. I don't think any of us can get so big that there is nothing new we can learn from ourselves and each other.
5. How is the best way to correctly fit a hat?
Firstly take your measurements. Grab a measuring tape and start in the middle of your forehead. Wrap the tape around the widest part of the back of your head and meet again in the middle of the forehead. Make sure it's not too tight. If in question about the size, always go up a size rather than down. Hats with reeded leather sweatbands don't stretch. If anything, they can shrink as the sweatband can swell as it wicks away the wearers' sweat over time.
6. What has been your favourite collaboration or piece created by yourself?
PR Collab, of course !! … On a personal favourite piece, I re-created the Hat Clint Eastwood wore in "Pale Rider" for my dad.
7. Your favourite hat brand other than your own?
Hornskov. A Denmark Maker.
8. Best hat colours this season?
Muted earth tones. However, I am getting more clients going adventurous with trims. ...And feathers.
9. What are your favourite materials to work with?
Definitely Fur Felt. Quality Fur Felt. I love the process of the heat and steam required to manipulate the fibres into shape. It's not always easy and often doesn't work on the first go - however, mistakes often result in new shapes and looks.
10. Your 5 workspace must-haves?
Heavy wood workbench - It gets hammered, burnt, steamed, glued and painted.
A big tray of crap - seriously, it's a mess, but I can always find what I want in its depths.
Coffee - lots of Coffee.
11. Where or who do you get your inspiration from?
For the past 3 years, inspiration has come from other shops, spaces and people in and around my studio in Newport. It's simply talking to others and watching as they build their dreams and work hard on their passions that inspire me. I honestly think it's those everyday people that fill our lives that we can gain the most from.
12. What do you do when you're not making hats?
I live in Manly and come from a family of surfers, so being down the beach definitely takes up a lot of my downtime. Otherwise, I still love to sew and go through stages. At the moment, it's Corsets. I attended a workshop in London years ago and still like to keep up the skills I learnt.
13. What's a regular workday look like?
It's never regular! As long as it starts with Coffee, I'm good. I am a morning person, so I will do whatever is important that day as soon as I get into the Studio.
14. Can people contact you for custom hats/purchases?
The Website feels like it has been coming soon forever !! It's definitely been a process in itself. I'm looking to have it live by early August. Instagram is my most used form of contact @alexisleighhattery and email firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Your Favourite Pony Rider hat?
I love the new Mink colour! All the shapes have been great, and I think this is a very versatile base colour to work with.