No!seMakers. Carla Murley.

Introducing N O ! S E M A K E R S

In this series we will publish interviews with women we admire and find out what their ‘new normal’ looks like.

To kick off, we chatted to milliner extraordinaire, Carla Murley from Murley & Co chats to us about maintaining her creativity at home, changing up her business model and the tug of war for territory in the kitchen now everyone’s around ALL day.

What is your day job and what does it “normally” look like?

I am a Milliner (which means I make hats).  Normally I would spend 7 days a week creating millinery in my home-based Beaumaris studio. I work solo and prefer it that way because I simply can’t find my creative mental space when I’m surrounded by people.

What does lockdown look like for you? 

My household consists of myself, my husband Troy, our kids Ruby & Oscar and our Great Dane Lola.

Lockdown for our family means that we simply are not going out socially and we are no longer working outside of our home. With parents who are in the high-risk group due to their age (sorry Mum & Dad, you’re still young in my mind!) and a sister on the front line as a nurse (what a legend!) we were aware very early on that it simply isn’t worth the risk.  

We’ve divvied up the primary jobs: Troy is the minister of Finance, Home Jobs & Physical Education for the kids. For me, I am the Minister of Food, Health & Alcohol….. Apart from the usual “being in charge of what we eat” job, I’ve taken on the role of Primary Community Contact.  I’m the one who leaves home at 6.30am to grab the fresh food we need for the day and grab a coffee from the boys at Casa Dolce before the usual daylight traffic down starts up. I don’t want to offend anyone by avoiding them, so I’m back at home before most people wake up.

Once that’s all done I spend the rest of the day ducking and weaving to find creative space to work in whilst also being present with my family. So far so good. 

And the two kids? Well they’ve been home since last Monday and I’ve never been prouder of them. They don’t fight, they make their own breakfast and lunch and they’ve just discovered Zoom to play virtual boardgames with their friends. Do they understand the true gravity of the situation? Maybe not, but they have just adjusted and I look at them and realise that resilience is strong in both of them and that makes me proud. Plus their hand washing skills are ON POINT!

Has your work been impacted?

I’d like to shout YES.  In three ways.

Financially. Emotionally. Creatively.

Financially, as a small business owner I had to make the decision to rent out my retail showroom long term, move the business home, and cut my income stream in half by removing the Millinery Hire range from my list of services.  I had to make this decision because I cannot run a full-size version of my business from home because it simply cannot fit into a home studio. But without racing events in Victoria, there will be no business at all, so for now these small changes might mean I’ll come back at the end of this.  If I don’t make changes now I’ll go under.

Emotionally, it’s just ego. I can deal with this.  I love my own company so working solo within 4 walls doesn’t scare me. I’m loving the social media engagement that I don’t usually have at this time of year, people are engaging online because we miss being connected in person.  And I don’t have to be taking the perfect hat pic to grab your attention. I’m just posting pics in isolation, about the stuff that is happening around me. The next few months will no doubt make me feel more connected with my audience as I share my personal experiences.  Lets just hope I get some hats made too…

Creatively, it’s been a tough month for me.  My husband started his career break mid-February even before the bloody Pandemic became daily news here, and the first couple of weeks took a bit of adjusting.

No you CAN’T cook eggs right now because I’m f*&#ing working in the kitchen!  will go down in history as our most ridiculous (yet favourite) argument EVER. A true tug of war for territory.

Thankfully, we’ve worked out a schedule for me to get my creative space and for him be able to study peacefully and still feel like he can still do whatever he likes because he’s at home. And we worked it all out BEFORE schools shut down.  CAN I HEAR A THANK GOD FOR THAT?!?!  The battle for territory is no longer an issue.

Your tips for keeping covid-19 anxiety at bay?

Limiting my online news reading to daylight hours, and making sure the wine shelf is never less than fully stocked.

Three items in your (panic buying) trolley?

Fresh bread, fresh produce and wine.

Favourite comfort meal? 

Homemade burgers with the best barbeque sauce in the world, can make anyone forget their pandemic anxiety even if only for the 5.6 seconds it takes to smash that burger back.  

Something you’ll never take for granted again?

Being able to just pop in to see my Mum and Dad for a good old laugh and a glass of wine. Phone calls about toilet paper and what’s on the shopping list tomorrow just ain’t cutting it.

Are you using this time to upskill/clean out cupboards/learn a new hobby?

At the end of summer I Marie_Kondo’ed the hell outta my house so I am out of things to chuck…..but the one thing I left for later was my wardrobe – I am saving this job for when I have collectively lost my self-isolation marbles and need to have something fun to do. I plan on calling my stylist friend Poppy at Styled By Poppy and having a Zoom meeting with her about what to keep and what to chuck. It’s not as exciting as our usual meetings but it might just step us back from the edge if we start to unravel.

Until then I’ll be locked in the studio for 4 hours a day (on rotation with my hubby/he gets afternoons, I get mornings) making the things that make my heart sing. Hats.

Favourite podcast/book/series/film?

Right now I’m reading “Your Own Kind of Girl” by Clare Bowditch. I first met Clare when I was 22… She is and has always been someone I admire. The book is ace. She is ace. Go order yourself one, you’ll thank me later.

Three women you admire and why? 

Jacinda Ardern. Leading her country through terrorism, a natural disaster and now a pandemic all whilst holding a baby.

My sister, a nurse who will be there for her patients day in day out until this is over.

My Mum, because everything she ever taught me is annoyingly correct. (I’ve just had to go get toilet paper from Mum who told me to stock up weeks back and I laughed at her).

What is your super power and what do you use it for?

My super power is recognising the beauty in all things, and that magic can always be made with a little imagination.

(Oh and hiding snacks from the kids, I’m really good at that).

If you could choose one place to visit in the next 12 months, where would it be and why?

I’d like a house party right here at home, a recreation of my 40th, but this time I wouldn’t kick everyone out at 5am and I’d let it go on for days. I miss my mates.

If someone wrote a book about you, what would the one line synopsis be?

The title would be “Who Drank All the Wine?”

I think it’s pretty self explanatory!

To stay up to date with Carla and her marvellous millinery creations make sure you follow her on insta @murleyandcomillinery



No!seMakers. Annie Price.

Creative director at advertising agency Wunderman Thompson, mum to Dot, owner of an enviable collection of velour pantsuits and mid-century modern addict, the energetic Annie Price is a woman who

Read More »

No!seMakers. Letitia Green.

Why is it that some of us are gifted with ALL the creative genius? Letitia Green is that person. As an artist, illustrator, graphic designer and image maker, her creations

Read More »