Rebecca Buckle, 38, runs Darlington-based online milliners, where she and her mother, Helen Manning, design and make ladies' hats to order.

How did you get into millinery?

My mum, Helen Manning, actually set up the business in about 2004, after she went to Darlington College and qualified as a milliner. Mum's always been very good with her hands - she was always sewing and making things when I was growing up - and she has a lot of flair.

I used to work at Darlington College as a lecturer in psychology and health care and after I had my little boy eight years ago, I suffered from terrible post-natal depression and stress. I was off work for quite some time.

I gradually started helping my mum with the business, and I found it was one of the things which really helped me to get better. It was great fun and something really nice which I could focus on.

With my mum being a bit older, she was not as comfortable with aspects like the computer side, so I was able to help her with that.

She's taught me millinery - it has been like an apprenticeship. She is now partially retired and I have taken over.

It has been one of those quirks of life when you end up doing something you never thought you would do, and love it. It is also great that it is a family business.

We used to see customers in person but moved the business to become online only as it means our market has no geographical limits and we can devote more time to giving good customer service.

What's it like to work with your mum?

It's brilliant. We have a fabulous relationship - we always have. We get along extremely well when we work together and we both know exactly what we are doing. We complement one another.

What's your design process like?

There are two stages in designing - thinking of the idea and making it work on a practical and technical level.

All the hats are designed by us and totally original - we don't copy anyone else or use other hats for inspiration.

We have box with all sorts of things in it which we use for inspiration. Sometimes hats can take a couple of weeks to design - we will do a bit on it, leave it and go back to it. If we don't like it, we just scrap it. Quite often, the best designs come from us just playing around - we try not to sit and say, 'We are designing today'.

We use cinamay as the base material for most hats. The different colours of cinamay respond in different ways - some are stretchy and others have very little give - so it takes a lot of skill to make the same design in different colours. It is like the difference between working with felt and silk. We hand make the designs from scratch and we don't cut corners. A hat can take between three and five days to make.

We usually design between 15 and 20 new hats every year and discontinue some of the older designs. Although our hats aren't completely bespoke, they are made to order in whatever colour the customer chooses, so with 75 designs and 64 colours, it's unlikely someone else would have exactly the same hat.

With the vast colour range, ladies can match our hats to their outfits, which is also a real plus point.

Although it's lovely to see famous people wearing them, our hats are designed with the average lady in mind. They are for normal people on special occasions like weddings and days at the races. You don't have to be a 6ft supermodel to wear our hats and look good - they are for everyone.

We hope any lady can put on one of our hats and feel fabulous. There is nothing silly about our styles - they are classic, elegant and beautiful.

What's the best part of your job?

I really love it when we get photos of people wearing our hats. That is lovely. We love seeing people looking fabulous on their special day. It's a nice thing to help people get ready for something they are really looking forward to.

Anything you don't like?

There's not really an aspect of my job I don't like. We are in control, so it's great.

Has anyone famous ever worn one of your hats?

While I wouldn't like to name our customers, quite a few celebrities have worn our hats - and they have appeared in a music video of a rap star as well as in a bridal photo shoot in Vogue.

Some guests at the German Royal Wedding also ordered and wore our designs.

We did send a few to guests at the Royal Wedding of William and Kate. One of our customers was sitting in the second row in Westminster Abbey and it was in some of the television coverage. I was beside myself when I saw that - I was jumping up and down.