Wendy Scully Millinery • Melbourne
Wendy Scully is one of a small, exclusive group of full-time Melbourne milliners. After a long career teaching and establishing herself as a successful milliner, Wendy says she’s ‘in a great space’.
From an early age, Wendy has always been a ‘maker’. As a child she made tutus for her dolls. Her merchant seaman grandfather taught her how to knit. She learned crochet from her grandmother and her mother, was, and still is, a professional knitter.
Fashion, creativity and design were in her blood but when it came time to choose a career, Wendy opted for teaching, saying it was ‘sensible and practical and offered employable jobs.’
Specialising as a teacher of art and design subjects, Wendy worked around Australia and in Asia. Then, eight years ago, a move to Melbourne allowed a change of course.
“The physical relocation gave me the chance to take on the sort of work I really wanted to do.”
“I was a bit sick of the admin around teaching, when a woman I knew asked me to make a hat for her to wear to the races. I’d done a few private lessons in millinery and absolutely adored it. I was hooked!”
“Following intensive training with other milliners in Melbourne, France and London, Wendy launched full time into her own millinery business.”
Fast forward to today. Wendy works from a cute city shop in a covered laneway arcade, surrounded by other small independent fashion designers and makers.
She describes her clients as “all types of women, from every age group and all parts of society”.
While many of them are regulars and come to her whenever they need a hat or headpiece for a special occasion, Wendy encourages people to just browse around the shop, try some hats on and have a chat.
“It’s a very warm communal place with lots of nice things to look at so I’m always pleased to be able to show people around,” she says.
Wendy has become a fellow of the Millinery Association of Australia and in the future, Wendy would like to use her teaching skills to offer classes and a possible internship or trainee ship.
“Being a teacher has definitely instilled in me the drive to pass skills on and give other people the opportunity to learn what I know,” she says.
“There are so few places where young people can learn millinery. I’d like to be able to pay it forward myself.”
As Wendy approaches another Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, she is busy putting the final touches to hats, fascinators, headbands, headpieces and wearable art designs.
Not only is she making for clients with specific requests, the Carnival is an ideal showcase of her work through Fashions on the Fields competitions and social media attention.
Through the year, Wendy speaks at events at prestigious shows and exhibitions. Earlier in 2018, she was officially chosen as an Exclusive Milliner for the Australian Chinese Jockey Club. She was similarly selected by the Melbourne Racing Club for the Chadstone Headway Event, and in both 2017 and 2018 was chosen as one of the top 30 milliners at the XTERRACE Exhibition at London Hat Week.
As she gets busier, Wendy says the key to her success is to stay true to her philosophy of concentrating on unique, elegant and simple pieces.
“Every piece is completely individual – I never want to make 400 of the same thing! And I don’t want to get stuck in a rut so I’m always researching, looking around me, travelling for inspiration and to buy fabrics and accessories, and talking to people.”
“To be a successful milliner, you’ve got to have real courage,” she says. “It’s hard work with long physical hours.”
But Wendy Scully wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m in a very fortunate position. I love the independence of running my own business which allows me to exercise my artistic expression.”
“And the chance to teach and inspire others to make beautiful pieces for happy customers brings my career full circle. I feel rewarded, very happy where my career has taken me.”
Check out Small Business Victoria Workshops to get your business venture up and running.