My name is Sabine Brannan. Born and raised in the Netherlands in the late sixties, I grew up in a family interwoven in the tradition of fabric trading, working on the markets of the Netherlands.
Before starting as an entrepreneur, I worked for a bridal couture designer
I designed bespoke wedding dresses when one of my close friends got diagnosed with breast cancer. She approached me after her diagnosis and since she didn’t want to wear a wig and had received a bag full of passed on headwear that I thought looked awful, she asked me if I could design something comfortable for her to wear.
So on a Monday morning I sat down and thought, if I was in her situation, what would I want to wear?
I would want it to be stylish and fashionable but also comfortable most of all, as your hair is such a big part of your identity and losing it makes the whole cancer treatment very stressful. She was quite restricted in various movements and was very tired due to the chemo she definitely didn’t want to stand in front of a mirror in the first place, let alone trying to ty a square scarf around a round head for half an hour to get ready and bring the kids to school!!
On that day our first headwear design was born, the Jersey with a Knot
With the other problems that my friend ran into such as a very sensitive skin, perspiring and arm restriction, this was the perfect option for her. I made her at least 10 different ones in various colours and patterns as we are women and do want to be spoilt for choice, especially if you must wear something that you normally wouldn’t think off. I was very pleased to be able to help her in some way and give her back her confidence as I felt very helpless seeing her trying to fight this cancer battle. She had to go to various hospitals for her treatment and people were asking her where they could buy the headwear, so she asked me to set up a business, so more people could be helped.
On 08-08-2008 the Dutch company Hippemuts was launched as a web shop
Before my dear friend passed away she made me promise to make this a big success. That really made me work even harder and within a couple of years I was awarded a nomination award for our special designed nightcap and was one of the last 3 finalists in a competition set up by the Chamber of Commerce for the most innovative entrepreneur in my hometown and I came in second. She must have been so proud, and I could feel her presence there when I had to pitch in front of 850 people on a big stage in our theatre, I was a nervous wreck but did it! Around this event was a lot of media attention and one of my relatives asked me if I wanted to expand my company abroad as he had a contact in the UK who was interested in becoming an agent, so another pitch along 5 other companies, by this time I could pitch as I had enough practise and was chosen.
I flew over and had meetings with Macmillan, NHS, Breast Cancer Care and others
They thought it was very innovative, stylish, comfortable and user-friendly and would benefit patients here in the UK. In one of the meetings I was actually turned down as a supplier being told my products were too “ fashionable “. Back in the parking lot I decided to see this as a compliment, as that is all I wanted in the first place, what an achievement.
Hipheadwear was born not long after that and we have been trading in the UK for 6 years
Starting from scratch and progressively growing ever since. The agent that had taken on Hipheadwear became my now husband and I moved to the UK in 2013 with my youngest son. As the doing business way here is quite different from what I was used to I really had to get into to the British way of trading which was a lovely learning curve with plenty of funny moments and embarrassing moments as I don’t drink tea but espresso!
All and all a magic journey with ups and downs but met so many strong men, women and kids who are struggling with their hair loss, that I feel blessed that I can help, bringing confidence and comfort to those who need it.
Sabine Brannan was ornb and raised in the Netherlands in the late sixties, I grew up in a family interwoven in the tradition of fabric trading, working on the markets of the Netherlands. She is now the founder and CEO of HipHeadWear