Why Haidee Neill chose to become a Milliner
Haidee Neill, the founder of a unique handcrafted millinery and accessories brand - Miss Haidee Millinery, comes from a beautiful little island in Australia. It’s known as the Apple Isle as they say they grow the best apples there. Any idea which island are we talking about here?! Yes, you’re right if you were about to say Tasmania – the 26th largest island in the world and one of the most beautiful.
Her family breeds racehorses in Scone, Australia and a few have travelled to the UK to race. Now that’s what we call an ideal milliner, combining the love of passion for hats and horseracing.
She comes from a large family with 5 siblings, and her being the eldest, well actually the second eldest out of all. Confusing, right? We had the same confused look on our face when we read that!
Here's a Fun Fact about Haidee: She has a twin sister about half an hour older than her which apparently makes her the second eldest of all her siblings.
Unlike Haidee, her twin sister is sporty and Haidee has always been very arty so there was never any competition between them. But her younger brother, being a furniture designer in London was quite a competition for her and for a while they competed on which magazines they had been featured in.
You clearly had a fun and memorable childhood. Could you share one of your most favourite memories as a child?
My first art teacher had this huge bag of beads and said we could make anything we liked. I was so happy and created many pieces with those beads. She looked at them and told me that I was so creative, and creativity is contagious.
My science teacher could see that I was making poly clay brooches in class and would ask me to stay back after class to tell me off...then say I'll buy that one and that one! I am still making and selling the same design I made then in that class 35 years later, improved but 80% the same hair accessories.
Another fun fact about Haidee - Millinery was not her first choice, she actually wanted to study photography and drawing at university.
How did you start your millinery journey then?
I applied for photography and drawing and did not get a chance in the first year, so I went to TAFE instead and did millinery as part of the clothing design module. I loved every bit of it as it was so traditional with no glue, and I love hand sewing. But I did end up at University the following year studying drawing, photography, ceramics, and design which adds to my hat design process.
“Some of pieces are very over the top and some are just beautifully simple, I love doing competition pieces big hats” Haidee’s dad breeds horses and as they started winning the races, the demand for larger glamorous hats was needed. Haidee has made hair accessories and sold them since she was a little girl of about 10 years old, and successfully started doing millinery full time about 10 years back.
How would you describe your signature style? What materials do you often use for your designs?
I enjoy working with my hands. When it comes to materials, I love to work with straw and block on my vintage hostess style hat block. It seems to be my go-to hat block as it suits most people. I also love lining my hats in bright floral silks and gold braids. As a signature style, I always leave a little four-leaf clover charm hidden in my hats.