Kelly Cavanagh (front) with ladies wearing her designer fascinators, Cath Wassell, Sue Neilsen, Robyn Buttsworth, Anne Woolley and Gail Tobin.
Kelly Cavanagh (front) with ladies wearing her designer fascinators, Cath Wassell, Sue Neilsen, Robyn Buttsworth, Anne Woolley and Gail Tobin. Chrissy Harris

Hats off to innovation

WHEN Kelly Cavanagh couldn't find hats and fascinators she liked in Gladstone, she decided to start making her own.

"I attend a lot of race days and I was having trouble finding things I liked here," she said.

Ms Cavanagh has been selling her one-off pieces on her eBay store hatsbykellyanne since 2006.

Her designs have won acclaim across Australia.

Most recently, a hat she made won first place in Fashions on the Fields at Flemington's Sofitel Girls Day Out on September 5.

The milliner also designed the hat that took out The Today Show's Darby Day competition last year.

Training under master milliners like Louise Macdonald, has given Ms Cavanagh an edge.

"When I started, it was feathers and a glue fun," she said.

Now, Ms Cavanagh puts anywhere up to 10 hours into creating just one hand-sewn hat.

Fascinators take much less time - generally only about an hour.

The benefits of selling online are clear, Ms Cavanagh said.

"I think online is the way to go - you've got such a diverse range of customers.

"I've sold to people in England who are going to the Royal Ascot and to the Kentucky Derby in America - and this has all come from eBay."

Ms Cavanagh is in the process of also setting up an online store called Kelly Cavanagh Millinery.

The success of her eBay store has allowed her to do this.

"Now I can actually set up my own online business - I've already got the client base."

She said she hoped to have the website up and running by next year.

Ms Cavanagh said she would keep the eBay store up, using it to sell a small range at a lower price point.

At the moment her hats start at $70 and go up to $200.



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