Cattle breeder Trudie Payne goes global by bringing stylish, sun-safe hats to country women

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A cattle farm in rural Queensland is far from the tracks of Paris, but farmer Trudie Payne is teaming it up with some of the world’s most renowned milliners to make handcrafted hats from her property in Eidsvold.

Her mission is to give women in the outback practical headgear that looks like haute couture after a health scare prompted her to fill a gap in the market.

“Three years ago I was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma, which really pushed me to push forward so that I could provide rural women with decent sunscreen hats,” Ms. Payne said.

“So I like to make a wide-brimmed hat.”

The Australian government says more than 7,000 women were diagnosed with melanoma of the skin in 2021, while skin cancer claimed the lives of 472 women last year across the country.

Ms. Payne says hat making gave her a creative outlet for farm life. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

Thanks to cancer treatment and drought issues, Ms Payne said hat making has been an emotional outlet for life on the farm.

“It was a bit difficult during the recent drought because I had to feed the cattle every other day,” Ms. Payne said.

“It’s so wonderful for my sanity.

Paris, London, Eidsvold

Ms. Payne discovered her knack for hat making through the country racing circuit.

“For the past 20 years, I have integrated the fashions of the field with local country racing. I have traveled between the states, as well as Brisbane and Cairns, for the races,” she said. .

“I was designing outfits and paying milliners for my headdresses and then one day I thought ‘maybe I could learn how to do this on my own’.”

Woman in pink shirt and red glasses adjusts the hat on the stand
Ms. Payne says her business is in high demand with women who want country racing accessories. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

Three years later, Ms. Payne has continued to network online with some of the best milliners in the industry.

“It was mainly through social media that I was able to access international milliners and learn different skills – from a leather flower to a handmade silk flower, straw, felt, pretty much everything, ”she said.

Fashion in the field

The rural community group Women in the North Burnett has supported Ms Payne with booming business for the past six months.

“In the last racing season, I dressed quite a few people and made their headdresses,” she said.

A gray felt hat with a blue bow around it
Ms Payne says there should be more options of trendy wide-brimmed hats available for country women. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

Ms Payne said she is now looking to expand the business to meet demand.

“I think I convinced my husband to build me a bigger space. I am currently working in the rooms of the house,” Ms. Payne said.

“It’s exciting but also a little scary because I have to help my husband manage the cattle ownership and our two children.

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