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Meet the Maker - The Perfect Hat

For Nikita Rolleston, it seemed only natural that a lifelong love of wearing hats evolved into a full-time career crafting them by hand. The Cronulla-based milliner and her mother Audrey Rolleston are the creative team behind The Salty Crown, a boutique business lovingly creating a unisex range of stylish fedora-style hats using traditional methods.

While Nikita’s passion may have started many years ago, her journey towards launching her own range began in earnest in 2016.

“I have always worn hats since I was a kid and it was the only thing I agreed with my mum to wear!” Nikita said.

“I never grew out of wearing one and decided to learn more about how to actually make a hat, so two years ago I did a three-day millinery workshop, which enabled me to take skills and ideas away with me. I also researched old traditional ways of hat making and took a lot from that too. “From then on it has been all trial and error and ‘learn as you go’, trying to perfect techniques and also better them.

It took me one year to perfect a hat and be happy with the end result. Then we launched The Salty Crown and have now been in business as a mother and daughter duo for just over one-and-half-years.”

The attractive range of fedoras includes a number of different styles and colours, with special details such as gorgeous vintage-looking felt or a feather attached to the brim, giving each their own unique personality.

“Each hat is carefully handcrafted including the finer details, from the shaping of the hats, every detail of the sweatband, the trimmings, and everything else in between, creating unique characteristics within each design,” Nikita said.

“The best designs come from being steered off track while making a hat and feeling the urge to stop and whip up something that has been brewing in my mind.

“I’m not a pen and paper kind of person that draws an idea first and then creates it. I just literally get an idea and go into the studio and start making what I can see in my mind. That’s the best part about it. I literally woke up one morning with an idea of a new style and had to get straight to the studio and start creating it while the idea was still fresh in my mind.”

While designers often have trouble picking a favourite from among their collection Nikita doesn’t hesitate when asked about hers.

“Definitely the ‘White Mamba’,” she said.

“Not only is it a part of the original collection, but the style was also inspired from a family trip to South Africa, while I was on a safari. Being born in South Africa and being my first time back since moving to Australia, the ‘White Mamba’ just holds some sentimental value and memories from that family holiday.”

For Nikita and her mother though, establishing The Salty Crown has been about more than just launching a new business, thanks to their core focus on sustainability and community support.

“We’re not only creating a brand, but also a culture inspired by a lifestyle based around our love for the ocean, passion for travel, and leaving a positive footprint along the way,” Nikita said.

“All hats are unisex and made from biodegradable and renewable 100 per cent Australian wool felt and ethically and locally sourced leather by-products. We also support Waves for Water due to the incredible and selfless work they are doing around the world by providing fresh drinking water for those in desperate need. We love being a part of their general fund across all their projects.”

You can find out more about The Salty Crown and check out their range of hats at this month’s Olive Tree Market, which will be held at Newcastle Civic Park on Saturday, October 6 from 9am to 3pm.

For more information about this and future markets visit

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