About Me!



My love affair with all things millinery began in 1996, when I got a part time job, while studying, in a hat shop in Dublin. Immediately I was addicted. Addicted to all things millinery, all things retail, all things fashion. Although I was studying something completely different, I knew my future lay in this industry. And honestly it was the buzz from dealing with customers that was the real passion.

Seeing a customer come through your the door, unsure of what they wanted, what would suit them, and then watch them leave with their head held higher, their smile wider and their eyes happier, I knew this was what I wanted to be part of every day.

In 2001, at the age of 26 I opened my first business Mad Hatter on Lower Stephen Street in Dublin 2, and as they say, I never looked back. By 2004 I had a unit at the Curragh Racecourse open on race days. It was Celtic Tiger times and I was on top of the world. My hats and headpieces were winning best dressed lady competitions all over the country, I had the honour of designing and making headpieces for Richard Lewis' fashion shows, I was appearing on television talking about my shop, newspapers, magazines articles, the lot! Flying high!

And then came the 2008 recession and things dramatically changed. By that time I was also wholesaling in to over 60 boutiques around the country, but almost overnight lots of them closed down and those that remained were moving away from occasion wear and life was not the bed of roses it once was! In 2010, I had the opportunity to purchase one of my largest boutique customers Vanity Fair in Newbridge, and there I got to experience fashion retail in all its glory. Now it wasn't just about millinery, although that played a big part in my Vanity Fair life too, with customers ordering headpieces daily. But now it was the full shebang. We were dressing customers from head to toe, and what an absolute honour it was.

But millinery still remained my main passion, nothing finishes off an outfit for a special occasion better than a hat. In 2014, when President Higgins and his wife Sabina visited the Queen, she purchased six of the eight hats she wore from me in Mad Hatter, the excitement was real let me tell you!!

In 2019 I decided I would start teaching my knowledge and skill to others who were interested in the techniques of millinery. And I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made. From my very first class I knew I'd found something incredibly special. Millinery is such a fun and expressive craft, and seeing people who insisted on telling me that they were not creative, create something that they could wear with pride, was the absolute biggest buzz of my life. 

March 2020 hit like a bullet out of nowhere and honestly my world came crashing down around me. Devastated I realised by August that I was not going to be able to weather the storm with a ship as big as Vanity Fair and my husband and I made the incredibly heart breaking decision to close down. In October 2020, we started an online clothing business The Try On, selling much more casual everyday fashion, but my soul was desperately missing my millinery and my hands were crying out to make something. I enrolled in dressmaking classes and went back part time to study fashion design. I don't know why being a student again spurred me on to get back teaching millinery again, but it did, and in April 2022 I rented a cabin in Crookstown co. Kildare. 

Customers that need a headpiece to match a dress can make an appointment to see me there. Or they could book into one of my classes and I can teach them how to make their own. If you're looking to purchase a piece for an occasion, have a browse through the Products section to get an idea of the shapes and styles that I do. If you're interested in finding out more about the classes, browse through the Classes section to see the upcoming dates and information.

And if you've read this far, well done to you! Thanks for reading and hoping to meet you soon.

Nessa x