In her own words
My love of design and creativity became apparent as early as 5 years old. I subjected my poor dolls to hours of torture by wrapping fabric around them, desperately trying to make them look like they were wearing fabulous dresses. Even then I had an insatiable appetite for anything and everything creative.
As the years went by I pestered my mum to teach me how to hand sew. After several attempts (including one which involved me unintentionally sewing my skirt to the duvet) I finally learned and then there was no stopping me! I proceeded to torture my dolls further and then went on to customise my own clothes.
My love of fashion and glamour stems from old Hollywood, watching movies of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and many other stars of that time. The 1940s-50s is my favourite era. Women knew how to dress back then, with fabulous, sexy dresses and amazing hats.
I’m very lucky in that everything I have ever done in my life has revolved around the arts. I went on to study Fashion and then later Three Dimensional Design, which incorporated Product Design and Architecture and Interiors. All of these disciplines have contributed to my design style.
Architecture and Interiors was the field I chose to work in. I discovered that creating structures and sourcing fabrics fulfilled me. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I had to take time out, but the yearning to be creative never left me. I was always looking for ways to keep my creative juices flowing.
It was during this period that I discovered my ability to design and make hats after stumbling on some left over materials from my courses. I looked upon the materials in a new light and in my head I could picture making a hat out of them but I wasn’t quite sure how. It was time to put those sewing skills to good use, so I set about trying to turn my vision into reality. Once the hat was completed, I asked friends for their opinion and they wanted to know where I had bought it.
In 2010 I entered the ‘Who Wants to be a Millin-aire’ competition and was shocked, amazed and excited to be in the final 12 out of 2500 entries. Completely self taught, I really did not expect to be able to compete against professional milliners and was honoured to have been chosen. As a result my design was sold in John Lewis flagship store in Oxford Street, London. This made me realise that it could be more than just a hobby.
House of Charles now produces bespoke hats on a made to order basis as well as ready made couture hats for the lady who likes to stand out from the crowd.