Imogen’s Imagination spills the beans; burlesque, juggling and a ‘split personality’.

Where are you based? Exchange Place Studios, Exchange Place, Sheffield, S2 5TR

How did your millinery career begin?

I’ve always loved hats but never had the confidence to wear them in my younger years. Then burlesque landed in Sheffield and suddenly there was this great excuse to get dressed up…and if you didn’t, you would be the odd one out ! I started out making headwear, using pre-made bases, for myself and friends to wear to these nights. My designs were picked up by a local alternative shop and things spiralled from there. I started selling my wares at vintage fairs in 2008, but I wanted to learn to make hats “properly”. Spurred on by my Mum’s return to higher education after her retirement, I enrolled in evening classes at Leeds College of Art in September 2009. I decided I couldn’t wait until I retired to pursue this desire! I attended every term until December 2014, whilst working full-time and running my growing business. In October 2013 I took voluntary redundancy from my full-time job and in August 2014 moved into my current studio.

Describe your work in 10 words:  Vintage inspired with a contemporary twist. 

Who are your millinery heroes?

Anyone who can make a full time living from their practice!  If I’m honest, I’m not sure I can answer this. There may be a couple of them here this weekend and I’ll need to keep my inner fan-girl in check. I’d rather try and maintain some amount of decorum without the risk of them reading this first! 

What inspires you?

I don’t think any one thing creates inspiration. For me, it’s usually an amalgamation of shapes, textures, techniques from my “stuff I want to use” box. However, I do also have an unhealthy number of inspiration boards on Pintrest!

What is a typical day like in your studio?

Come in and turn on the computer. As I do most of my business online, there is always PC work to be done; promotion, order processing, shop management and email enquiries.  As I am also part of a couple of collaborative projects (The Hat Stand and a team leader for Sheffield Sellers on Etsy) there is always correspondence to be dealt with in relation to these projects.

Unfortunately, sitting at the PC working is about the only typical thing I do! As I have to juggle my workload around a part-time job with irregular hours, every day is different. I can have the best laid plans, but an overnight email can change the course of the next day.

Depending on what I have in my order books will decide whether I have a making day or not. Unfortunately, I don’t make every day, let alone make creatively! If I’m gearing up for a vintage fair, I might get a bit of a production line going to re-stock my hair accessory ranges of headbands, hair combs and hair clips.

The days I look forward to the most are “playing” days. That’s when I attack my stock boxes and play with new ideas, new materials or just make something for fun…these are somewhat few and far between!

Why did you wanted to take part in this event?

Why wouldn’t I want to be?!?! This museum is about everything I love! Social history, how things are made, and hats! I’m incredibly honoured to be part of it and, if I’m totally honest, rather overwhelmed to be included with such a wonderful line-up of speakers.

Where can people buy your work?  and

Anything else you want people to know?

I answer to Imogen and Sophie…please don’t worry if you forget my name! Having a “spilt” personality is quite handy for making yourself be brave online, when you might not be feeling it in real life. I totally recommend it!

Imogen’s Imagination




Pintrest: www.

The Hat Stand




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