MY WYNDHAM: Michelle Robinson, of Tarneit, is both a milliner and a nurse. She chats with Alesha Capone.

How did you become a milliner?

I’ve been going to the races since I was little, there is a photo of me aged about three months old at the races. I’ve always loved the races and as I grew up, I fell in love with the expensive hats at Myer, although I definitely couldn’t afford them! I essentially learned my sewing skills from my grandmother. One day, I went to the Kyneton races and I got a tap on the shoulder to say I should enter Fashions on the Field. I was a bit shy and reluctant, but I got up on the stage and won the millinery award. Two girls on the stage said that if I could do that without any training, I should do it professionally.

And you ended up starting your own business, Hatricks by Michelle?

Anytime one of my hats achieves something, like an award, or anyone buys one, I can’t believe it. My hats have won lots of Fashion on the Fields awards. This year, I won the People’s Choice award at the Melbourne International Millinery Convention. I’m a full-time nurse and this is my part-time work, they balance each other very well. Millinery is creative and relaxing, whereas nursing is time-critical and can be stressful.

What do you enjoy about millinery?

So many people are afraid of wearing hats. To have them come to me and try things on that they might not usually do, is a privilege. There’s a hat that suits everyone, you have just got to keep trying on hats until you find the right one. I get a lot of joy out of seeing clients wear my hats. The thank-you messages I get from customers are really wonderful. Racewear is really my passion, I really enjoy making hats for the Spring Carnival.

You’re also a nurse?

I initially wanted to be a vet, but that is very hard to get into, so I studied science and I really enjoyed it, then transferred to nursing. I took to it like a duck to water, it was exactly what I was looking for. I also completed post-graduate studies in critical care nursing. You never know what your day is going to be like. We get to see people who are unwell and often at their worst, and hopefully get to help them in some small way and help understand what’s going on.

What do you like about Tarneit?

Tarneit is a good mix of brand-new growth and established homes, it’s a nice mix of new and old.