If you want to get ahead, get a hat.

Q&A with Jess Collett - Founder of jess collett milliner

For our What Lies Beneath campaign shoot for Summer occasions,  we were thrilled to collaborate with Jess Collett. Having Jess's beautiful headdresses, hats and hair accessories to play with brought added glamour to our shots. It felt like the perfect match for the quiet luxury and empowerment that epitomises the product promise of our tights and shapewear collections - helping support you to feel your very best at life's most special moments. We sat down with Jess, a much lauded British designer,  and asked her a few questions so that the Heist customers know a little more about a designer that we have fallen for in a big way.

Please enjoy!

Jess, tell us about your journey into millinery. 

My mother was a dressmaker and upholsterer, so naturally, we were always making things at home. From costume making to party decor and flower arranging, if we could make it, then we did! This creativity triggered my love for dressing up and when I put a hat on, I felt magical. It was at this stage that I just knew hats were the thing for me! 

After I left school, I did an apprenticeship with Edwina Ibbotson for 2 years, later going to college to further develop my artistry and design and since that time,  I’ve never stopped. I’ve always been making hats for people and so the business developed naturally from there. 

The support of The Princes Trust (now The Kings Trust) was a defining moment in your journey - what difference did this make, and how do you pass any legacy and advice onto the young designers of today?

When I finished studying at college, I knew it was the path I wanted to take so I applied to The Princes Trust for my starter millinery kit. This included blocks, hat stands (which I still have to this day!), business cards and a website. Being accepted into the scheme gave me the confidence boost I needed to move forward and develop my brand. They were supportive, and I had a mentor who I met regularly to help me with the business side - the numbers, finances and organisation. 

I felt like someone cared about what I was doing because the now King was taking notice, and he is incredibly passionate about craft and supporting young creatives. 

My advice for young designers is to always go after what you’re most passionate about. It’s never going to be an easy path and it’s a long road but there is always support out there and it’s a journey that should be enjoyable. As I was given a chance by Edwina, I like to pay it forward and give emerging milliners work experience. It’s also a great way to inject new ideas into the studio - it’s all about collaboration.

At Heist, confidence and feeling supported/not restricted are key tenets of our ethos. Is this the same for headwear? 

When someone puts on one of my hats, I want them to feel confident and empowered, feeling their best. To feel confident wearing a hat is to feel comfortable and secure, so that is incredibly important in all my designs. There’s no greater feeling than seeing someone come alive when they put their new hat on for the first time.

What makes you feel most supported and empowered in your day-to-day life?

My team! My brilliant, brilliant team. 

We are heading into the Summer ‘social season’ where we see hats and headdresses and hairbands in all their glory. What are your trend predictions for Summer ’24? 

I think that, as always, there will be the saucer shapes, button shapes and hairbands.  In particular, because they’re easy to wear, the halo shape will be a winner, I am sure. Florals and veils are also a popular choice, but I do think that people are becoming less afraid of wearing bigger brims, so I’m looking forward to seeing people go all out this season. 

Are you a tights person? Tell us how you wear yours! 

I love tights! I often wear tights under dresses and skirts, even under trousers in the winter. I have very pale legs, so in the summer I like to wear tights too. I’m also a huge fan of fishnets - I find they’re surprisingly warm and are very flattering. I would especially love a comfortable pair of tights that accentuates the good bits and smooths out the lumps and bumps.

Shop Jess's favourites

The Double Diamond Colours

Our sustainable, double diamond fishnet tights combine environmentally-friendly fibres with all the comfort of our bestselling tights.

The Contour Nude

Flawless, natural, invisible. These tights offer graduated compression through the waist and leg, making them the perfect companion for any occasion.

The Double Diamond in Black

Our sustainable, double diamond fishnet tights combine environmentally-friendly fibres with all the comfort of our bestselling tights.

Your studio was buzzing with creativity and everyone at full speed when we visited - how do you define your culture as a team?

I hope that the enjoyment that I have making hats will pervade throughout the team so I would love it to be a fun collaborative environment, happy and hardworking. Being very organised must be thrown in too! 

We are excited that you have expanded your hire service. Tell us a little more about that. 

Yes, we have! We’ve recently just launched our SS24 collection, ‘A very English Summer’. The collection is a celebration of everything the English summer represents - summer weddings, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley, garden parties and so on - come rain or shine I encourage you to dress up regardless this season and go all out with your accessories. With all of this in mind, we’ve made 12 of our favourite pieces available to hire now.  It is important to note that with all our hiring pieces, there’s just one of each style available, so if you’ve got an event coming up, book early so you don’t miss out! 

win the ultimate event-enhancing duo

Enter the competition

To celebrate this stylish partnership, we're giving you 20% off a hat hire at JCM, and the chance to win the ultimate "finishing touches" bundle, designed to elevate your special occasion look.

Here's what you could win:

  • 2 pairs of your favourite Heist tights
  • Your choice of a luxuriously smoothing shapewear piece
  • A free hat hire from Jess Collett Milliner

Our exciting competition runs from 12PM on May 20th until 12PM on May 24th.

T&Cs apply.