Yvette Jelfs, 49 is one of the leading designers of couture hats and head pieces internationally. With a client list spanning from the UK to China, Yvette designs hats for pop stars and princesses, as well as racegoers and wedding guests…
“When you find your dream job, it makes life much happier.
“I started my millinery career as an apprentice in Luton, the hat-making capital of England, UK. Once I completed my apprenticeship, I went to work with prestigious milliner Graham Smith in his London workrooms, making hats and trimmings on his designs for the Princess of Wales and other Royals.
“By 1980, it was time to set up my own. Now, I am a hat maker and creative director of Yvette Jelfs, where I design hats for a range of clients as well as design for companies such as Phase Eight, Jaeger and DAKs.
“It was daunting setting up a business, but I’ve learnt that to be a good leader you must be committed to your idea or plan. Stay focused, work hard and you’ll achieve your goal in the end.
“Now, I have the opportunity to make people feel confident in their choice of headwear. Hats make people happy. I want to share my skills too, so I teach hat-making when I can. It’s wonderful to see those who lack confidence walk away feeling better about themselves. They feel they’ve accomplished something beautiful that makes others smile too.
“Many of the skills I apply in my work life are those I learnt as a Girl Guide. When I was a Guide, I needed help with organisation. Guides taught me to listen to those who could lead. I realised that everyone has their own strengths, but if we work together it makes for a better team.
“This has been invaluable for my business. I am happy for others to take the reins in moving my business forward with the understanding I am great at making and designing hats.
“I also honed my love of craft as a Girl Guide. I’d find things and use them to make something useful. Whereas other people laughed at my homemade objects the Guiding community encouraged it and gave me so much confidence. I didn’t worry what other people thought. I’d find feathers and sticks and make headpieces. Even now, nature is still very important to me when creating.
“I now live in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, so I am able to apply many of the survival skills in my day to day life, and I make sure my daughters have the opportunity to learn from being a Girl Guide too.
“Guiding has helped me in so many ways – and I truly believe it gives girls the power to dream big and be leaders. If I could share any advice to girls from across the world, it would be to never let people laugh at or about you. Keep working on your goals, hard work will get you there in the end. Always believe in yourself and do your best.”
"Guiding has helped me in so many ways – and I truly believe it gives girls the power to dream big and be leaders"