Mum's 'side hustle' grows into thriving business
YOU may have seen her serving customers at Mudjimba café High Tide, but Kate Doherty's side-hustle is gaining momentum and could soon be her main game.
One of the most popular handmade felt hats Kate makes is her "distressed" style, where she makes a "perfect hat - and then light it on fire".
"I love doing those ones," Kate said.
Kate's business Doherty & Goods was conceived out of frustration at seeing "the same, cheaply made, mass-produced hat everywhere".
"I wanted something different but could never find what I was after," she said.
Kate researched millinery courses and moved from her then home in Moffat Beach to Melbourne, where she studied under renowned theatrical milliner Rose Hudson, a teacher at Melbourne Fashion Institute.
"I learnt the basics and traditional techniques of a varied style of hat - straw, fascinators and felt," she said.
"My real love was the felt hats though, I loved blocking and shaping and hand sewing."
She's since moved back to the Coast, where she has a home studio in Mudjimba.
She said it was therapeutic working with her hands and creating something.
"I've always enjoyed being creative in one way or another, so making hats is right up my alley," Kate said.
"Essentially my design process is talking to the client. They can have full creative control of their hat, or tell me the colour and leave the rest up to me.
"Either way, I like to work with the customer, giving regular updates on their hat from the start to finish so we're both on the same page."
To make a quality felt hat, she first steams and blocks the felt, which is then shaped over a wooden block and moulded with her hands.
She said it was almost like sculpting.
"The blocking is always the coolest part, you take this floppy piece of felt and turn it into a wearable hat."
While the hat is drying on the block, she gets to work on the leather band, the sweatband, inlays and feathers.
"Each hat is completely different so there are varying design elements within each hat," she said.
Over the past year Kate has made more hats than in the past three years combined.
"I think there has been a real shift in the way people are buying garments and accessories - the fast fashion industry continues to grow yet a lot of my customers are becoming more mindful of how purchasing a high quality product from a small independent label is super important in this throw-away society.
"You could buy a hat for say, $90, but where was that hat made? Who made it? What were the working conditions like?"
Originally from Goondiwindi, Kate's family moved to the Coast when she was a child and she grew up here.
She became a mum in July last year and also graduated with a fashion design and merchandising degree from TAFE East Coast Mooloolaba campus.
Always on the hunt for new skills, she's currently studying graphic design.
Aside from being a mum to a baby, running her business and working at High Tide, Kate fills in at Alley Cat in Coolum and volunteers as events coordinator for the Coolum Women's Shed.
"It's a hectic schedule between work, business, baby, study and everything in between, but I thrive when I have heaps of things to keep me busy," she said.