Gardens of Whimsy: marrying nature with hair accessories
April Rissell, inspired by costume design and the use of flower crowns throughout history, started her Gardens of Whimsy shop in September 2009.
Currently based in Brooklyn NYC, Rissell’s life has taken her all over America and even Japan, and despite her initial plans to become a meteorologist, has found herself on a path where creating beautiful hair pieces is her main career.
Now, over three years later, she still designs, creates, photographs and models all her work herself, in addition to running her Etsy shop as a one-woman machine.
Which of your current designs is your favourite and why?
I think my favourite design at the moment would be the Diana crown. It’s very unique and it was one of my first pieces that I sold in my shop and the demand for it has kept up for three years now! I am working on a new line of pieces based upon this crown with different flowers and colors at the moment and I am really excited about them.
Why do you think people choose to accessorise their hair?
I feel that hair accessories are a lovely and versatile way to express your own personal style. There really are no rules for wearing them in my opinion! If one day you want to channel the 1940s, you can pin your hair into victory rolls and wear a small fascinator. If the next day you want to feel like a medieval princess, you can let your hair be free and wear a flower crown.
What is your favourite era for design and why?
I draw a lot of inspiration from medieval paintings as well as Victorian fashion plates, but also adore the 1920s – 1940s. I love the femininity of these eras and seeing the concept of femininity evolve through time.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think the biggest highlight of my career was the moment I realised that my shop was successful enough for me to focus all of my energy on. I constantly remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to create things I love for a living and make other people happy in the process!
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to make some pieces for Florence Welch! I really relate to her sense of fashion and self-expression. I love the whole art nouveau, ultra feminine yet strong, goddess-like persona she creates.
What has triggered your focus into bridal pieces specifically?
I decided to focus on Bridal because a large portion of my customers are brides or women attending weddings and the demand for more bridal appropriate pieces is always growing. I used to be a wedding décor assistant and also modeled bridal gowns a few years ago, so I was already introduced to the bridal scene and I hope those experiences have given me a better understanding of a bride’s vision.
What are your future plans for Garden of Whimsy?
At the moment my plans are solely revolving around my Etsy shop. Building it up, creating more pieces, expanding my vision, and trying to push myself creatively. I always feel like there is more I can be doing and more ways to be innovative. Ten years from now I would love to still be doing the same thing! But at some point I would really enjoy working with costume designers creating millinery and hair accessories for film or theatre.
How would you describe your personality, and is this reflected in your work?
I think my personality is pretty multifaceted so I try to channel the more dreamy aspect of my nature into my work. My Etsy shop is me, but the more subdued side of me. I am a bit quirky, peculiar, and nerdy at times and have a broad range of interests. But I do enjoy delving into the more romantic side of myself to create the image of my brand.
Have you/would you produce any bespoke items for customers?
I used to do a great many more custom pieces for customers, but recently haven’t had the time to do more than a couple each month. I hope I can squeeze more in there soon, because I have had such lovely ideas from customers and their visions, but I don’t take on new bespoke orders unless I know for sure I have the time to devote my all to it.
How has Etsy helped your business?
Etsy truly has changed my life in every way possible. Words cannot express how eternally grateful I am for the opportunities Etsy has given me. Their admin team has always been supportive and they are constantly evolving the website to better help both buyers and sellers.
To see more of Rissell’s stunning work, visit her Etsy Shop, Gardens of Whimsy.