Computer to catwalk: University of Portsmouth print worker starts her own hat-making business

Lynn Leach, 53, from Copnor, has set up her own hat making business.''Picture: Sarah Standing
Lynn Leach, 53, from Copnor, has set up her own hat making business.''Picture: Sarah Standing
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A PRINT worker is hoping to swap her computer for the catwalk with the launch of her hat-making business.

University of Portsmouth worker Lynn Leach, 53, only started making hats two years ago but has already seen her work displayed at the London Hat Week Great Hat Exhibition.

Some of Lynn's elegant designs.'Picture: Sarah Standing

Some of Lynn's elegant designs.'Picture: Sarah Standing

She has been recognised with the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the university.

Lynn said: ‘I’ve always been a creative person and loved hats.

‘I’d been at the university for 30 years and decided to go part-time. I started to upcycle old hats which I really enjoyed and decided to do a millinery course.’

After completing an introductory course at University of Southampton she enrolled on an advanced course at London College of Fashion. 

Lynn with three of her hats which featured in The Great Hat Exhibition for London Hat Week.'Picture: Sarah Standing

Lynn with three of her hats which featured in The Great Hat Exhibition for London Hat Week.'Picture: Sarah Standing

It was while studying in the capital that the quality of Lynn’s work was recognised and three of her hats were selected to be displayed at the Great Hat Exhibition.

‘I was amazed when my hats were chosen – it was a fantastic feeling,’ she said.

Lynn then saw her designs – purple high tea, the rose bowl and the bouquet – on display alongside some of the world’s most famous designers.  

Since completing the course she has now made over 50 hats which have been sold for between £40 and £300. 

‘All of my hats are hand made with no machinery. The market tends to be for women attending weddings or the races who want to stand out from the crowd. I love the creative side and a lot of the designs are based on vintage and classical hats from the 1920’s,’ said Lynn.

After two years running the enterprise from her back room and selling hats on line and from a pop-up stall, Lynn now hopes to purchase a studio building from which she can expand her business – including making men’s hats.

‘I always wanted to run my own business but up until now I didn’t know what it was going to be. I am now at the point where I would like to become a full-time milliner,’ said Lynn.

Lynn will be displaying and selling her hats from her stall at The Petersfield Space from October 14 to 19.