This week we chat to milliner extrodinare Lucinda Hostombe Shooter of Hostie Hats. Her beautiful bespoke head pieces are stocked in the likes of Fenwicks and you’ll find them perfecting many an outfit at Ascot every year. Running her own thriving business and raising three small children is no mean feat. Here she explains how she makes it work.
Tells us about what you do?
I am the MD and designer for the Millinery company Hostie Hats. We are unique in that we can colour match any of the hats to customer’s outfits at no extra charge so everyone can have a bespoke look. We create two ready to wear collections a year, which are stocked countrywide in stores such as Fenwicks in London, as well as having an online store www.hostiehats.co.uk
Where is home and who will we find there?
I work from home in East Lincolnshire in the countryside. I’m married to Oliver who is an arable and renewable energies farmer. We have three wonderful children, Wilfred 5, Tabitha 3 and Hugo 8 months as well as 2 horses, a pony a donkey, two dogs and a goldfish!
What’s the best way you’ve found to balance family and a career?
I haven’t! For me balancing home and work life is a constant battle particularly as I work from home. I have times of the year that are busier than others but week to week orders can be quite unpredictable. I don’t have any help with the children as I don’t want to look back and feel like I missed out on anything and would rather outsource help for areas of the business but this isn’t easy living in an isolated area. My days are fairly hectic juggling everything and at busy times I work at night as well. However there is not often an evening that goes by when that I am not doing something hat related – if I’m watching television I’ll still be wrapping bands or cutting feathers. Most helpful of all is my understanding and supportive husband who will often come to my rescue, whether it be looking after the children, emergency trips to Fedex or packing boxes.
What three items help you juggle everything?
My iphone, I would be lost without it. Customers like to have answers right away or be able to discuss designs and I pride myself on being able to give that personal touch. I also use it for all areas of the business wether it be taking a picture of something that inspires me, ordering materials for an urgent order whilst I’m on the school run, or checking stock levels.
Coffee- when I moved out of London I really missed the coffee shops and so now my Nespresso machine is probably the most used machine in the house. I have to try and limit myself but my will power is pretty weak!
At the moment a baby playmat, it is keeping Hugo entertained in the studio for ages, fingers crossed long may it last.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?
Probably leaving London both professionally and personally. I find the energy and diversity of London very inspiring so it is hard to feel like I have my finger on the fashion pulse when living somewhere so rural. Also being 1 1/2 hours from the train station makes for long and logistically differcult days with a young family. That said the felxability of working from home and being surrounded by countryside has plenty of benefits.
What do you most enjoy about your role at work?
I adore working with my hands and being creative. Its taken me along time to belive in myself and my skills, what I do is not only about creating a head piece its often about styling a whole outfit and I love to give confidence to other women and help them feel their best. It is wonderful to be involved in other peoples happy occasions.
Is there anything you struggle with and how do you deal with it?
Working from home does mean I never switch off and my work is ‘never done’. There is always something I could or should be doing, my mind is always ticking. I have to force myself to give time to other areas of my life.
How do you spend any precious me time you get?
We have horses and I love to ride, its great thinking time and it can either be a great way for me to clear my head or I can come back from a hack brimming with ideas.
If your planning a family holiday where would it be?
We adore going to Barbados, I’ve holidayed there with my family since I was a child and I now love to see my children embracing the island and enjoying all of the wonderful things it has to offer. We often holiday with their cousins out there and it is magical to see there friendships grow.
How do you switch off?
Seeing friends and eating out. It’s a great way to relax.
What exercise do you do?
This is an area of my life I need to make some changes. I start each week with such good intentions and then I always run out of time or there are ‘more important’ work commitments I need to do. I do however ride when I can and running around after the children is fairly exhausting, I must go up and down the stairs a gazillon times a day!
What are you wardrobe fail-safes?
My work and home wear all tend to mull together. I love my J brand skinny jeans and have them in several colours and tend to team them with a knit jumper or silk top from somewhere like j crew or zara. I really want to get back into wearing heels more often but I’ve been a sucker this summer for the fashion trainer and love the mutted colours from Massimo dutti or a classic flat from Chanel or Gucci.
And accessories you couldn’t be without?
I am a bit of a sucker for a handbag and have lots but with still needing to lug so much kit around for the children I’m generally never without a bucket bag from Louis Vutton or YSL, I call them my Mary Poppins bags as its amazing how much I carry round in them!
I always wear Coco Channel
Your hosting a dinner party – what’s on the menu?
Rather selfishly I always like to cook what I like to eat so typically to start with I’d either do a goats cheese salad with avocado and a balsamic dressing or deep fried brie with a chutney.
Followed by butterfly leg of lamb marinaded in soya sauce and BBQ’ed with roasted new potatoes and seasonal vegtables from the farm and a couple of sauces like red currant jelly and taziki.
Then pudding would be a baked cheese cake with either stewed rubarb from the garden or a salted caramel sauce.
If you’re going out where is your favourite spot?
It is hard to choose a favourite restaurant but Le Caprice has been a special place where Oliver and I have spent many a happy evening. We love to sit at the bar and I always have the steak tartar and chips.
Is there a woman you really admire?
It maybe a cliché but my mother, she is the pillar of our family. She has great style and advice!
What’s the next big thing in your life?
Hostie Hats will be stocked in 4 new stores in the coming months and we have just launched a new look website offering an easy step by step way of ordering a hat bespoke to your outfit and hope it will be a great success.