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Magpie trips and millinery

If you’re dreaming of taking the plunge and starting your own creative business, then today’s story is sure to inspire. Sisters Sarah MacGregor-Norrie and Lindsay MacGregor recently established their own couture millinery business, Angels & Insects in Edinburgh, after graduating from The Royal College of Art in London. They’ve been busy all winter working on a new collection of bridal hats and headpieces, and the designs are exquisite! We caught up with Sarah to get all the backstage chat…

How did you get into millinery?

My sister Lindsay and I both studied BA Art and Design at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, and both went on to do our MA at The Royal College of Art in London ( I specialised in Embroidered Textiles for Fashion and Lindsay in Jewellery and Fashion Accessories).

After both taking career breaks from teaching Art and Design to bring up our children, when Lindsay made the move to join me in Edinburgh, it acted as a catalyst. We had always wanted to go into business together in a creative field and when the opportunity presented itself to make some hats and headpieces for an Edinburgh based fashion show, we decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. Millinery was a natural fit for us, it was something we both really enjoyed doing and suited our skills set. In a way, we had been doing it on and off for years. Making headpieces and fascinators for ourselves and friends and family, even each others’ weddings.

And I guess we thought, we both love doing this, we both want to do something creative again, so why not?

What inspires you?

Inspiration is all around, Lindsay and I have always been fascinated by haute couture and fashion, having both worked in different fields of the industry earlier on in our careers.

Ideas can trickle down from high fashion (we are both Vogue addicts) or trickle up from the high street.

We are inspired by nature, travel, the past and the present. Most of our work is inspired by the materials themselves and each piece evolves in its own unique way, we both take a more experimental approach to our work and hate to be too prescriptive. The end aim is to make a beautiful piece that can stand alone.

And what do you love most about your work?

What I enjoy most about my work is that it doesn’t feel like work at all. Lindsay and I both love being creative and making things. After we’ve dropped off the kids in the morning, it’s straight to the studio, kettle on, Radio 6 and before you can blink, the working day is finished and you don’t want it to be. There are never enough hours in the day!

Any highlights so far?

I’d like to think that as we are a relatively new business that it’s too early to say what our highlight has been, but I suppose, if pushed to answer, your first sale or commission is always special because it validates your work and, after all, you want others to love what you do.

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?

In five years time, Lindsay and I would love to establish a name for ourselves as go to milliners in Scotland, and have our own Edinburgh based boutique with an on-site studio. Well that’s the dream anyway!

On a day off, we’ll find you where…?

On our days off, you will find us having a coffee at Victor Hugo’s on the Meadows or in town, visiting the museum or various galleries, sometimes on a (magpie trip) trying to source vintage beads and jewellery to be used in our designs and if the weather is hot, (an all too rare occurrence in Edinburgh), you will find us on the beach at Portobello enjoying an ice cream.

I love the sound of the magpie trips! Anyone else thinking of following their dream and launching their own business? Christina x

Photos copyright of Fern Photography