I often turn to London based Milliner Iona Montgomery when looking for gorgeous hats to pair with my outfits as well as for something bespoke for those special occasions. Her designer headpieces have a gorgeous air of grace and femininity and a real feel of luxury. After using some of her beautiful headpieces for our winter editorial (pictured below) we were delighted when she agreed to do a Q&A with us, giving excellent insight into the world of millinery and running your own business.
What was the inspiration behind starting your business?
I have wanted to make hats from the age of 14 and since then have gained invaluable experience working for amazing milliners in both Paris and London. I loved working in these millinery studios and was inspired to start designing my own collections. I always knew that I wanted to create a more casual range of hats after being influenced by my time spent in Paris, where hats are everyday accessories. This led to me setting up ‘Monty’ in 2016.
How did you start your company?
I decided to set up my business straight after completing a Higher National Certificate in Millinery while also working part time for Stephen Jones. This not only allowed me to work in an incredibly inspiring studio, but also enabled my business to grow and evolve organically until I was in a position where I could focus solely on my own collections and commissions.
What has been your proudest moment since starting the business?
Going full time working for my business in 2018.
What has been the biggest learning curve you’ve faced?
Accepting that formal millinery is very seasonal which led me to adapt my business model to include more everyday styles. People wear hats a lot differently to how they used to so I try to create collections that attract a range of clients for different occasions.
How have you found the millinery industry since lockdown started and ascot and racing became behind closed doors?
Obviously demand for formal hats has reduced since lockdown started but fortunately sales of turbans and fedoras have continued. I think that people have still wanted to treat themselves and to feel good!
What is your favourite type of hat to design?
My favourite hats to design are bespoke commissions, I love working with the client to come up with a unique design that they will feel confident and proud to wear.
What is your favourite outfit to wear for the races?
A Monty fedora and a Sarah Badeni coat obviously!
What are you most looking forward to when we can get back out and socialise?
Going to the pub in the sunshine!
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Take the time to fully understand and research your market and just keep persevering! Also try to connect with other small business owners. Starting your own business is hard and often lonely so having a network of people who have gone through similar experiences can be invaluable at times.