Our #HTCdesign ambassador is here to share her career tips on how to make it as an Irish milliner.
When you want a custom-made hat from award-winning milliner Jennifer Wrynne, you have two choices. You can browse her website, which doubles as a popular fashion blog, and choose from the bright image gallery of her work. Add to basket and the perfect outfit’s finishing touch is in the post. Or, you can go straight to the inspired source and create something truly original in consultation with the young creative, who was fittingly inspired to make hats after her first trip to the Galway Races one summer. Jennifer works with clients over email (holler at [email protected]), where she trades ideas back and forth after seeing your planned outfit and hearing your ideas, and in person. She offers one-on-one hat consultations from her studio in County Leitrim.
Jennifer works from a cosy two-room studio in the town of Ballinamore. The show room for meeting clients is decorated in some of her standout and signature pieces. The second room is a workshop, a calm space from where beautiful creations unfurl amid masses of colourful materials. “I’ve got great lighting and lots of space, which makes it so much easier to work in.” Jennifer explains of her studio. She claims that she’s at her happiest here, when music is blaring, and she is in the middle of a designing session. Jennifer doesn’t work from drawings. She starts with an idea in her head and lets her instinct and hands take her to the finished product.
Jennifer returned to her home county after a six-year stint in Dublin, where she worked for Louis Vuitton in Brown Thomas as a visual merchandiser, designing the elaborate and intricate displays and windows. At first she thought coming home would be strange, and a little bit challenging after the bustle of working at one of the most highly regarded department stores in the world. Now she loves it. “Everyone has the best attitude. Everyone in Leitrim is so friendly,” she gushes. “Even if you are just going to the shop for a bottle of water, everyone says hello, everyone complains about the weather but everyone still has a smile on their face.” Sounds like the perfect setting for someone who just wants to create beauty.
Jennifer’s goal with every commission is to achieve a level of perfection that makes her customer feel amazing. One of her favourite type of commissions to work on are bridal headpieces: “I love working with brides for their wedding headpiece. It’s such a big day in someone’s life, and it’s always a great feeling to be part of it.” And has she noticed any trends emerging that our colleagues at IMAGE Brides ought to take note of? “The small pill box with birdcage veiling is definitely the most popular style headpiece for brides this year,” she says, before explaining why Jackie O still reigns supreme: “It suits most shapes of faces, it’s comfortable to wear for an entire day and can be worn many times again after their wedding day.”
She also makes hats for herself, and won Best Dressed Lady at Cheltenham in March with a piece she constructed out of beautiful gold lace appliqué with pearl detailing that she found in Thailand while holidaying earlier this year. (You can see this hat in one of the photos Jennifer has shared with us, taken with her smartphone of choice, the HTC One M9.)
Another aspect of Jennifer’s on-the-ascent career is her blog, which she started when her millinery business kicked off. It was a natural progression for someone with an innate eye. Customers would often chat to her about their outfits, looking for advice. “I wanted somewhere to share my love of fashion and to be able to give styling advice. A blog is a fantastic place to share these things,” she says. Jennifer now makes sure to blog once or twice a week, updating outfit posts and cross-posting with her HTC One M9 to her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, where she has over 6,300 adoring followers. Despite it being further immersion in the fashion industry which she sleeps and breathes, Jennifer loves it and doesn’t see it as work. After all, she has wanted to work in designing ever since she was a little girl.
Jennifer’s social media presence combines these passions on a near 24/7 basis. She’s particularly evangelical about using high quality photos to promote her business and uses the Dual-tone all-metal HTC One M9, which has a HTC UltraPixel™ front camera as well as a 20MP main camera. Having such a great camera means she can show her work off at its impeccable best. “The more likes you get on the picture, the more it shows up on people’s newsfeeds,” she explains, meaning having the highest standards possible is intrinsic to success. “There is no point posting poorly lit, dark, fuzzy photos. They don’t do your work any favours and people don’t tend to notice them,” she says of the importance in investing time and money in choosing the right settings to showcase her work. Thankfully, the HTC One M9 has in-built editing tools to help her refine her photos.
“Instagram is brilliant,” Jennifer enthuses when we bring up selfies, one of her best marketing tools for showing off her hats. She peppers her feed with selfies taken with her HTC UltraPixel™ front-facing camera as it was built to capture maximum light, even in less than ideal settings. That helps when your work is known for its bright colours and rich materials, and when Ireland isn’t exactly playing hostess to a constant bright blue sky.
As a female entrepreneur, Jennifer’s story is pretty heartening one to hear in this difficult day and age. “I started my business in 2011, right in the middle of the recession,” she says. “While I know things aren’t quite what they used to be, things are definitely getting better. Each year my business has grown and if it continues to grow as it has done, I will be very grateful.“ There’s also the fact she surrounds herself with a network of positivity. Her family and friends are always there for a chat when she needs to kickback while her boyfriend helps her when she needs another business eye. And then her mother will help her with the odd bit of sewing.
A young woman finds her passion, goes for it, enjoys wild success, and gets to do all of this while attending very glamorous race meetings. Can we swap lives?