Doing what you love: how changing careers has helped me
Doing what you love: how changing careers has helped me
Doing what you love: how changing careers has helped me


Real-life endeavor story

Changing Careers: How Creating NDLQMILLINERY Changed My Life

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Are you tired of doing a job you do not like? Do you ever feel that your passion lies somewhere else? If only you could choose to work in a field that is inspirational, fun, creative and you are your own boss? Well, I chose to change my career path in my mid-thirties, and never looked back.

Starting a new profession, and a new business in the creative world of fashion is both challenging and inspiring. Being an entrepreneur in any field is hard, being a designer and a craftswoman in a world as competitive as fashion, particularly accessories can be even more daunting.

Changing Careers

It’s never too late to do it

Just like art, the fashion world is full of competitors, beauty stays in the eye of the beholder, and fashionable items come and go. You need to be innovative and creative. Did I also mention that you also need to deal with the business side of a venture? It’s not just about the originality of your piece. It’s not just about the materials, the technique, the finishing, but also about the positioning, the price, the distribution, the logistics, the marketing, to name a few.

Well, this article is the story of my biggest professional challenge – leaving a secure employment to start my own business in the world of fashion accessories. So let me start by introducing myself before I delve into my brand: NDLQ Millinery.

I was born in Peru, grew up in London, got Business Degree in Wales, took a post-grad degree at Imperial College in London, worked in PR and communications for a health consultancy in the city. A traditional business career that I liked but realized that my professional life could be so much more. Since my early years at university, I used to draw hats on magazines that had beautiful dresses and were missing that special touch.

How do you create the right atmosphere to discover your passion?

I took a career break to raise my 2 kids, we moved with the family to NYC for a couple of years and found that I had a real passion for designing and making bespoke headpieces.

I am sure that this is a common feeling: when you get a break from your normal day-to-day work, such as maternity leave or city changing, you have time to reflect on your career and life choices. It’s so important to look inside your real passion and not let it go by.

You need to allow your passion to surface and find a way to come to you to make it work. I always knew that a hat is an important statement of character. So, I kept drawing and started doing courses to learn how to make them. I went to the London College of Fashion to study Millinery. Then specialized in Fashion Textiles and Millinery at the well-known Kensington and Chelsea College – now known as Morley College –, where I won the first prize at the Feltmakers Design Competition 2020. Subsequently, I started internships with famous milliners such as Edwina Ibbotson, Ian Bennett and Pier Atkinson to name a few.

Most of my friends and former colleagues were skeptical about my choices, but I had this internal drive, that was pushing me to continue. Many people kept giving me recommendations and their opinions. All meant well, but I needed to make mistakes of my own, I knew that I didn’t need anyone else’s advice to decide my future.

Changing careers, changing mind frames

There is no recipe for success, no matter what you read in the bookshops or online. Starting a new business is hard, and hat-making is not an exception. Very few people wear hats, and those that do, wear them only for special occasions. You can find hats at any price, so why would the world need another hat maker? The change in mind frame is exactly here. I don’t think about the market rules, or the need for hats, I really care about:

  1. Making unique wearable pieces of art;
  2. focusing on how a headpiece makes the person feel when wearing it;
  3. Never compromise on quality materials and sustainability.

I get inspiration to design my creations in my daily life. Just like any creative profession, ideas come from a number of sources, and you need to investigate them, make time for them, open your eyes and your senses.

My headpieces are lyrical, sculptural, capture an emotion, a memory, a feeling that needs to go beyond the natural sense of vision, I always try to touch the other senses, and the emotions deep in our own psyche.

All the rest is noise.

Building a business is not an easy journey. Learn how to create a good customer experience strategy!

* Written by Nora De la Quintana, Founder of NDLQMILLINERY

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Fashinnovation’s columnists are their own, not those of Fashinnovation.


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