Inspiring women – Reny Kestel, milliner

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to three inspiring and creative women from various industries and backgrounds, milliner Reny Kestel is the first of the series.

Famed for her sculptural designs and striking headwear, we talked to Reny about her creative craft, work and life balance as a new mum and her advice for starting a business.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I started my millinery label in 2010 designing bespoke hats and headpieces along with releasing ready to wear seasonal collections. I opened my boutique shop and studio, the Hat Box Gallery in September 2013, where I operate mainly by appointment only with special shop opening times for spring.

How did you discover millinery and why did you pursue it?

I started my interest in millinery when I was living abroad in London. I visited a millinery supply shop and made my own hat for The Royal Ascot races. I received so much positive attention, it led me to studying the art of millinery at London College of Fashion. Upon returning to Perth, I seized the opportunity to launch my own millinery label in March 2010.

What is the creative philosophy that underpins and inspires your work?

I have always thought of millinery as a type of sculpture; it’s a fusion of art & fashion – wearable art as fashion is a great form of self-expression. I tend to use architectural trends to influence my design and style ideas – I also love observing patterns in nature.

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 Reny wears the ‘Journey to the Sea’ earrings, necklet, cuff and ring

Starting your own business can be a very daunting task. Do you have any advice for someone

who is wanting to take the leap?

Go for it, there is no point waiting. Use help where you can. Make sure you value your worth as a creative.

You have recently become a mum (congratulations!). How are you balancing work/life commitments?

It hasn’t been easy. I’m only just starting to get back into working, my flexibility with the business probably won’t ever be the same as it used to be but it’s about adapting to these changes and finding the positive elements from it. I have a very supportive husband who helps me out – I’d be lost without him.

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What is a typical day for you?

I’m a full time mum to my 9-month old; he’s in a good routine at the moment where I am able to work during his naps and in the evenings.

What are the millinery trends for this season?

Brimmed hats – you’ll see fedora style shapes this season and bow detailing has been trending too.

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Seen here is a custom crochet hat made for Jennifer Hawkins and the ‘Journey to the Sea’ earrings, necklet, cuff and ring

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It means to me a reflection of previous generations of women who have fought for rights for women and being able to celebrate how far we have come. I feel fortunate to live in this era, that I can run and control my own business and be a mum too.

What are your favourite Allure pieces and why?

I love all the designs in the ‘Journey to the Sea’ collection, especially the hoop and pearl earrings because they make such a statement – yet have a simple elegance. The gold pearl ring is also luxurious and reminds me of an egg in a nest.

A special thank you to Reny Kestel for allowing us into her beautiful studio and sharing her story.

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