Suzy O’Rourke is the Owner and Designer of Suzy O’Rourke Millinery.
Q1: Your first job in the premium/luxury space?
My first job in luxury was when I created Suzy O’Rourke Millinery (I had previously worked in advertising). While studying costume design I discovered millinery and was captivated by this very old craft …the tools, the wooden blocks, the techniques and of course the luxurious materials available to create with …beautiful fur felts, vintage straws, feathers, silk veiling, lace, jewels and embellishments …the list is endless.
Q2: The best career advice that you have received? In turn what would be your advice to those seeking professional growth?
Keep your eye on the big picture but break things down into small steps to avoid being overwhelmed by the many tasks to be done….and never forget how wonderful this career is!
Q3: On role models…
My first role model was my theatrical millinery teacher Jean Carroll OAM, at the tender age of 80 she mentored me through my millinery major work (she retired at 89 after 75 years as a milliner!). She was extremely knowledgeable in regards to technique, very generous in sharing tricks of the trade and she had a wicked sense of humour. I also look to the incredible UK milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones who have kept the world excited by hats for decades with their genius designs and incredible workmanship. I was thrilled to meet Stephen Jones when I was invited to exhibit two hats at his ‘Anthology of Hats’ exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery in 2010, he is another very generous person with a fabulous sense of humour.
Q4: Your philosophy on being a leader…
I love that millinery offers endless possibilities for creativity. Constant inspiration leads to looking at new ways to create and showcase this craft, whether transforming traditional materials and using them in an unexpected way or creating with new cutting edge materials but crafting them with old millinery techniques.
Q5: Defining moment that propelled your career?
We started collaborating with Australian photographer Michele Aboud (now New York based) each season to provide imagery for each collection, together with a wonderful creative team we were able to capture the mood and feeling of each collection. These campaigns caught the attention of many international publications and stylists leading to our GILT collection being flown over to Lady Gaga in New York.
Q6: Your biggest challenge professionally?
SPRING. RACING. SEASON! Still our busiest time of year, so being prepared each year for feathers flying, nimble fingers, late nights and strong coffee!
Q9: What does it take to be in your position and perform your role successfully?
A milliner is quite a diverse role and each part is as important as the other. Creativity, millinery techniques/workmanship, time management and customer service are the key areas. There is a very close client relationship that begins at the initial design process, and follows through to the fittings throughout the creation of the piece and final delivery to the client.
Q10: Your work must have?
Needles, thread, thimble, tape measure, sharp scissors, and smart phone ….mainly for the camera and of course a mirror.
Q11: How do you unwind from a long day at work?
Run down to the beach with the kids in summer and funny dinner conversations – especially the 3 year old’s contributions!
From the Mo Luxury's MO Down Blog: http://www.moluxury.com.au/themodown/in-the-mo-a-career-in-profile-with-owner-and-designer-of-suzy-orourke-millinery-15072015/
Photo by: Michele Aboud Photography