Meet The Milliner; CKB Millinery 

To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail’ 

Claire on the right, with Emily O’ Donnell, producer and creator of ‘The Hat Show’ series. 

I recently sat down with Galway milliner, Claire Kelly Badger to ask her some questions about living her passion.

You can order from/message Claire and see her pieces HERE

I will be wearing some of Claire’s creations over the next couple of months and I’ll be sure to upload lots of ‘Outfit Inspo’ images. 

Claire, you work as a Milliner, have you always been interested in Millinery, how did it all start for you? 

Yes I have always had a massive love for hats. My granny had a big collection of hats for occasion and casual wear, she was quite glamorous when she wanted to be, and I found myself as a young child standing in front of the mirror trying on all her hats and coats. I think that’s where my love for fashion began.Also I grew up across from the Galway Race Course and from a young age I went racing with my sister and friends and was just mesmerised by the style, especially the hats. I suppose I just fell in love with fashion really and it went from there. I spent a fortune buying hats over the years for racing and weddings and one day just decided that I could do this for myself. I spent about three years talking and thinking about it before I took the plunge and sourced a beginners’ course. From there I was addicted and millinery has become a major passion of mine. I get great satisfaction from creating a big headpiece from just a piece of material and an idea in my head. 

Is Millinery your full time work? 

No, I work as a HR Business Partner for a large Medical Device company in Galway. Millinery is more of a hobby turned part-time business.

Where do you get your design inspiration?

Everywhere and anywhere! Flowers and nature are always a great inspiration and memories of my granny’s style always pop into my mind when designing smaller more vintage pieces. 

Is there a message you try to convey with your designs? 

Not really. I like to think my designs are quite simplistic and classic and I make hats based on something that might just pop into my head. There is no major rhyme or reason to it, just the enthusiasm for making new and exciting pieces. 

Claire at the launch of The Hat Show Series, which she was featured on. 

Galway Races.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am quite creative and always have been so I suppose just the idea of being able to make what I like when I like is great. The world is your oyster in terms of what you can do so I love exploring that and coming up with new pieces that are different and pieces that people love to wear. 

Biggest highlight working as a Milliner to date?

I am not that long in this business so it was a huge boost to me when I was selected to be featured as part of the Hat Show for Irish TV who recently did a documentary on up and coming / established Milliners in Ireland. It was a great way to get my name out there and we featured in so many media campaigns both nationally and locally. 

Who would you love to see wearing one of your designs?

I would love to see Kate Middleton wearing a CKB headpiece. I absolutely love her style and think she is so elegant and wears hats so well. I have been tempted to send her a piece to see if by some miracle she might actually wear it! I might yet if I’m feeling brave some day. 

What’s next for CKB Millinery?

Well in the space of two years I have gone from taking up Millinery as a hobby to unexpectedly building a small business, stocking my hats in local stores and featuring on a national TV show, so who knows what the next two years will bring! Watch this space….

More pieces; 

A final word from Claire on her millinery work; 

All of my pieces are handmade from scratch. I block all of my bases on wooden hat blocks and hand stitch everything even down to the lining on the inside of my pieces. I source a lot of my materials from Dubai as the variety of bling and lace out there is amazing. I love nothing more than shopping for materials now, it’s my new clothes shopping.