Spotlight | Christine Baker, Milliner
it’s always racing season at the baker household
When you’re married to a racehorse trainer, you spend a lot of time at the races.
That’s how local milliner Christine Baker came to find hatmaking as a creative outlet, and now a fully fledged business. Every Spring Polo, Weetwood and Melbourne Cup, you’re guaranteed to find a stylish local wearing one of her designs.
We met up with Christine in her millinery studio to learn about business in Toowoomba, early mornings in the stables, and her perfect weekend.
Name: christine baker
Known For: handmade hats seen at all the race days
Born: edmonton in far north queensland
Local since: 2007
first things first: why toowoomba?
Well, I was born and bred in Edmonton, a small sugarcane town south of Cairns. My husband trains racehorses and we came to Toowoomba 12 years ago for the strong horse presence here. Our children were young teens so the great schools, easy access to Brisbane and the climate were also major factors. Toowoomba appealed to us as a city, not too big, with a nice country feel.
what is your business?
I am a milliner – that is, I make hats, fascinators and headwear for racewear and weddings. In a world of mass produced retail imports, everything I make is made by me.
What have you learned about running a business in Toowoomba?
Being a creative person, I don’t think I could do what I do in a big city. Toowoomba is a beautiful place, so inspiration is everywhere and easily accessible. Access to supplies and materials is a big challenge though; unfortunately I have to online shop for all my supplies, mostly from Sydney and Melbourne. A lot of my colour matching is done on a computer and is often by trial and error.
What does an average day look like for you?
Having racehorses, it starts very early. Once the horses are tended to and the sun is up, I start my millinery day. Checking emails and messages for new projects and orders is first up. Sometimes an order is very specific with colour and style, and sometimes it’s simply a photo of a dress or a snippet of material. Depending on what I have to run with, I start to pull together ideas. I block up a base, whether it be a hat or fascinator and set it aside to dry. Then starts the fun part of trimming the piece, which usually involves a polystyrene dolly head and lots of pins. After consulting with the client on the final look, everything is stitched into place. This can take a number of days or weeks, depending on the project.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
Family. Toowoomba is a great family-friendly place, so whether it be a walk in the park, out for lunch, a day at Clifford Park Racecourse or just shopping the many local markets there’s plenty to offer.
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
J Jaks Family Pies!
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: Might sound crazy, but I always feel great after a good gym session. The Bar is my pick-me-up.
RELAX: Often go to Picnic Point, kick off my shoes, eat some lunch and relax.
EAT: There’s so many new places in Toowoomba, to pick one is difficult! But for a good meal, you can’t go past Zack’s at the Burke & Wills.
INDULGE: Catch a show at the Empire Theatre and pop into Encores for a first class meal.
SHOP: Fashion is my passion. There are some great local fashion boutiques that you can’t go past – Florence & Marabel and Ivy Designer Collections – not to mention plenty of chains stores in Grand Central.
CATCH UP: Brunch at Cafe 63 The Range.
BE INSPIRED: Flowers and more flowers. There are so many parks and gardens and nurseries to inspire me. Laurel Bank and Queens Park, or True Blue Garden Centre and Coroneos Nursery for my own little garden.