‘Hatwalk’ winner head and shoulders above the rest

April 7, 2014

By Christine Keighery

Carrickmacross milliner, Bronagh Marron was celebrating last week after becoming the winner of the prestigious 2014 Hatwalk Irish MIllinery Design Award in Derry on March 28th. Bronagh’s stunning turquoise creation certainly turned heads on the night and stood out head and shoulders above the rest as it beat off stiff competition from some of Northern Ireland’s best up and coming milliners and hat designers.

Entrants were invited to submit a hat design featuring a uniquely Irish element so Bronagh created a delicate Carrickmacross Lake Butterfly which she attached to a flower at the back of the hat.  The intricate detail of her design meant creating the butterfly took around ten attempts to perfect and, in all, she worked on her design for three to four weeks before the competition.

The modest milliner, whose exquisite bespoke fascinators, hats and jewellery have been worn by hundreds of ladies throughout the district, told The Examiner she “never expected in a million years” to win such a coveted award, especially as this was her first foray into design competitions – and one which she arrived ever so fashionably late to – by almost one-and-a-half hours!

“The event started at 7pm and, because we got lost on the way down, I didn’t arrive until almost 8.30!” explained an embarrassed Bronagh.

“I’d only just sat down when five minutes later they announced the three finalists and my hat was the first one out on the stage. I really couldn’t believe it, and then to go on to win outright, I was just gobsmacked,” she said.

Winning the award has spurred the Bronagh to enter more competitions and she has her sights set on another competition in Dundalk very soon.

Being a milliner is something Bronagh admits she always wanted to do and five years ago, whilst working part time in millinery, she was sponsored by Louth Enterprise Board who helped her to get set up through a ‘Start your own business” course.

Now working from her home-based studio in Carrickmacross most of the week, Bronagh also works part-time with McAllister Interiors in Cullaville, which, she says has helped to develop her creativity and love of fabric and design as well as build up her confidence with people, which has been paramount to the success of her own millinery business..

Bronagh’s bespoke creations have become ever more popular over the years and she has seen her business go from strength to strength, with more and more orders rolling in for one of her beautiful headpieces.

“Two or three years ago was I just ticking over but now I’m so busy, I don’t have time off.  Every week there are weddings to create pieces for.  I made 15 hats for a wedding recently and this week I’m making 18 hats for another wedding. Every one of them has to be different, which I love as it allows me to be really creative.”

Bronagh also started a hire service last year which has proved very popular with clients who know they will only wear the bespoke hat once.

“The hire service works brilliantly in that it allows clients to hire a piece at cheaper price and I can re-use it to sell on to retailers or to add to my own stock,” says Bronagh.

As to how she comes up with her unique and individual creations, the hugely talented designer relies on the “vision” she has in her mind for a client as opposed to intricate sketches or patterns.

“I usually like to meet with a customer and sit down and have a cup of tea with them, get to know them.  I’d like to think this type of friendly service puts everyone at ease and they can try on a few pieces and I get to know through talking to them what will suit, what will work with the whole outfit and get an idea of what they want.”

With her business continuing to grow, she hopes to open a showroom in Carrickmacross in the near future.  Bronagh also makes bridal headpieces to order and hand-made jewellery.

To view her award winning Hatwalk entry and her collection of beautiful headpieces and jewellery visit Bronagh’s Facebook page  To make an appointment or visit her workshop contact Bronagh on 00353 862544114.