Her talent took her to NYC, but Ellen Hunter Gorman is still very much a Memphis gal at heart! Her gorgeous, handmade headpieces are the perfect accent for the big day but they also work well beyond bridal … just ask Beyoncé, who was recently photographed wearing Ellen’s gold Daphne Wreath!
We are delighted to introduce you to the lovely, talented Ellen Hunter Gorman of Ellen Hunter NYC.
What did you do before designing full-time?
Growing up in Memphis, I knew designing was my passion by the age of 16. I worked at a bridal shop in Germantown for a very talented designer who taught me the in’s and out’s of creating one-of-a-kind headpieces. I moved to NYC in 2008, where I worked for the Nicole Miller showroom as a bridal account executive for a year. I always knew in the back of my mind that I needed to follow my passion, so I made the leap to start my own business in 2009 and never looked back!
Tell us a little bit about how you gravitated toward the very specialized craft of making headpieces. I can imagine your hands-on training was intensive!
I have been making headpieces for 15 years and I still learn something new each day about the craft. The pieces that I make are very intricate and I love the endless possibilities of designing headpieces with wire and other components.
Today, do you still do most of the work yourself by hand? Where/when do you mostly crank it out?
Up until this year, I was able to create all of the pieces and handle the production by myself. When Henri Bendel picked up the line, I had to source out some of the production to a small factory in upstate New York. I was adamant about having my designs made in the US and am obsessed with consistency and quality. When you have developed a product based business, one of the hardest things to hand over is your production to a second party. However, it is the only way to meet the growing demand.
Do you think your Memphis roots influence your designs in any way?
Absolutely! Memphis is where I first realized my passions and where I found my creative self. Memphis will always be a huge part of who I am. I am a Southern girl at heart!
What was your initial reaction when you saw images of Beyoncé wearing your golf leaf headpiece? Tell us how you confirmed it was yours and where she shopped.
I was actually in Paris at the time and my phone began buzzing like crazy! The messages were from several Henri Bendel managers, so I knew it was something very big. I first saw the image on a People magazine link, and it took me a good five minutes to wrap my head around it. It was definitely the most fulfilling moment of my career to this day.
Do you think we’ll be seeing more stars wearing your designs?! Who are some celebs you’d most love seeing sporting an Ellen Hunter headpiece?
My headpieces have been purchased by a few major celebs, most recently Carrie Underwood and Lana Del Rey! I would love to see a red carpet moment in the near future, but being a part of their everyday style is pretty amazing too!
How do you hope to see your business grow in the years to come?
My shorter term goals include simply branching out and getting my product into more boutiques and department stores around the country. I would eventually love to be an international brand and sell around the world.
What is your favorite thing to do when you come home to Memphis? What do you miss most?
Besides lots of family time of course, I have my favorite places to eat and shop while I am home. My first stop is usually Corky’s BBQ, but I always have to make it to Memphis Pizza Café and Houston’s as well. I live in the greatest shopping city in the world, but still cannot get enough of Indigo and James Davis when I am in Memphis! There’s no place like home.
So where can our readers shop these beautiful pieces? What if someone is interested in a custom piece for a special occasion?
My designs are available on my website www.ellenhunternyc.com and also in Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman and Kleinfeld Bridal in NYC. Locally, I sell my products at Low’s in Brinkley, Arkansas, as well as Ballew Bridal in Memphis. I do work directly with customers to create custom designs for their special occasions and love making one-of-a kind headpieces.
What is the best thing about living in NYC?
The energy when I walk out my door in the morning is a feeling like no other. I get a natural high from the fashion, the sounds and the different characters that make this city tick.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Life is not a dress rehearsal! You only live once, so follow your heart.
What book(s) can currently be found on your bedside table or tablet?
This is embarrassing, but I have not read a book in years! My attention span is only long enough for a fashion or gossip magazine. My iPad is completely full of Us Weekly, Vogue, People, In Style, etc.
What does your ideal Saturday look like?
My favorite thing to do on the weekends is a long brunch with my husband or good friends. NYC has a lot of amazing brunch spots with great food (and mimosas!). If the weather is nice, a walk along the Hudson River with our dog makes for a perfect Saturday.
Do you have a favorite beauty product?
I can’t live without my Nars bronzer or my Thairapy hair straightener!
Fall fashion must-have(s):
Faux fur vests, a bohemian hair wreath, leather leggings, suede booties, anything with leather details, lace accents and oversized sweaters. I love what’s in stores for fall this year.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I make a mean Southern fried chicken. I once made it for Nicole Miller and her design team!
Your favorite travel destination?
My favorite places to visit are Paris and Prague. They are both so magical and inspiring.
Describe yourself in a few words.
Adventurous, quirky, festive.
Name three lighthearted things you can’t live without.
My dog Seamus, Champagne and 5th Avenue.
Thanks, Ellen! Learn more about Ellen’s hair accessories here: www.ellenhunternyc.com.
Thank you to Christen Jones Photography for these beautiful images of a beautiful woman!