DRESSING UP YOUR LOOK WITH Bespoke Headbands.
Maggy Zammit Meilak is as humble and down-to-earth as they come – bubbly and lively on the one hand, but also serious and professional when the need to be arises. I knew her work before I got to meet her in person, as a mutual friend was so chuffed with her new handmade headband back in May, when Maggy’s business started: since then it has flourished. In between one commitment and the next, we came together as I was truly intrigued by this recent phenomenon in the accessory department. The first thing I wanted to know was how it all started, and from then on the conversation became quite fluid and dynamic; we could say it was a very organic interview, building on Maggy’s responses. Read on to know about Maggy and her world, also known as La Chic Bandeau.
Given that this is quite a new niche in the accessory department, how would you say it all started? If I had to tell you that it all started as a light-hearted ‘dare’, you would not believe it. I had a wedding to attend so I was on the lookout for a headband. The only option I had was one particular shop that came with a recommendation, but on second thoughts it turned out to be way too expensive. A friend of mine causally joked, ‘why don’t you create your own?’ I laughed it off at first but my inner creative voice pushed me to go for it. Being a member of the Carnival Committee, contributed to this too. So I created my very first headband. Little did I know it would get such positive feedback, as soon as I shared it on a popular social media page. A friend of mine, for whom I also designed a headband went on to do the same and, faster than you could say the word ‘headband’, the two posts were seen and commented on by loads of people.
The concept boomed straight away after that. However, I can pinpoint the 26th May as a special day because it was then that it all flourished, with my Facebook page La Chic Bandeau following some time later. One event led to another, and I now cater for occasions such as weddings, Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies (both mothers and daughters), as well as for fashion events. The latter enabled me to meet a person like Sandy, with whom I have worked on some photo shoots. Orders have become more regular and structured, but I always ensure that they are done with love and not as a chore; I am so thankful and appreciative for the success of something that started out unintentionally. Now, I look ahead to the Christmas period which I can tell will be rich in something other than just Christmas trees – watch out for the handmade headband!
Did you envisage this type of success and what were your initial concerns?
I really did not expect this to be so much in demand. In fact, I was afraid that it would either be a passing trend or that when the order numbers increased, I would not be able to keep up the pace. In reality, I was my own enemy, constantly fighting off self-doubt. I did not know myself initially, I did not believe I could be that creative, until I held the final products in my hand. After that, I felt my craft was going from strength to strength, so I pushed myself to create intricate, interesting designs. If anything, I told myself that this was a very creative and relaxing way of spending my free time. I had another concern, however, namely that it would stop being a personal passion and become just another job, something that would be part of a routine. And yes, there is a mechanical aspect to it, but I try to keep a clear head and plan ahead. The request for handmade headbands has been overwhelming, which is positive but admittedly stressful at times. My way of coping and enjoying the ride is to balance out orders, so that I can comfortably and confidently appease everyone.
What are the challenges behind this passion of yours?
First of all, it is time-consuming, both in terms of the design and the execution of the headband. Every single one is original so as a client, you know there is nobody else out there with the same design. That in itself adds to the pressure, because I have to come up with new looks for each and every piece. Despite the added pressure, which I can easily avoid by doing more of the same, I believe in the idea of uniqueness, where no two
headbands are exactly the same, simply because the chance of people attending the same event and wearing the same headband increases in a small country like Malta. Another time-related aspect that people may not consider is the time that goes into having customers try on the bands and eventually come to collect them. Even then I have to be available in person.
Could you take us through the stages of creating a handmade headband?
There are two options. First the customer contacts me either through Facebook or by word of mouth (through a mutual acquaintance). In general, if the customer has already chosen a dress or outfit, they send a photo or ideally, bring it with them in person. This works as a starting point; a springboard for ideas. We build on the colour scheme and materials (so that if customers have other similar clothing items in their wardrobe, they may wear the headband more than once). When customers do not have the outfit planned yet, I tentatively start with the headband, but sometimes customers are confused as to what they really want. Through a discussion, I fill in the gaps until we agree on the image or design they have in mind. There are customers, however, who have no clue whatsoever, and prefer leaving it up to me; it is literally in my hands to come up with a vision for their headband.
Where do you get your ideas from and how do you source materials?
Believe it or not, I do not really plan or have a definite idea from the outset. Very often I design according to the person standing in front of me. Occasionally I do a quick search online but most times I just end up creating a piece, inexplicable even to myself. In terms of materials, I source them from abroad. Unfortunately, I do not have many options locally when it comes to the range of materials, because the gems and detailed pieces are difficult to come by.
What is your vision for the near future? Who would your ideal clients be?
Now that I am on this path, I would like to keep going. It gives me great satisfaction and pride knowing that many people from different walks of life wear my creations, including well-known personalities and artists, such as local talent Gaia Cauchi and some hopefuls who took part in X-Factor Malta, not to mention the many models who appeared in photo shoots. I do not like getting ahead of myself, however, and prefer being grounded and true to my roots. Despite these small but significant successes, I know that I started out in a humble and unassuming way, so for me, it is important to remember where I come from, in order to appreciate how far this has taken me. My motto is ‘Live the life you love and love the life you live’, which goes hand in hand with my vision to take this journey one step at a time.
Interview by Stephanie Xerri Agius
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