Robin Strang

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Robin Strang

The Two Madhatters, Townsville, Queensland

Robin Strang was born in Brisbane in 1961 to Ewan and Judy Bowly with three brothers and a sister. Her early years were spent in Gladstone, but with Ewan dying of cancer, the family moved to Brisbane. The death of her father when she was 12 years old had a huge impact.

Her mum, tired of complaints about her sewing from 13 year old Robin said, “do it yourself”. The best advice! Under guidance from a talented Gran and encouraging aunt, Robin discovered her love of fabrics.

A governess role landed her near Longreach in 1979, where Penny and Ian Button mentored this lost soul who’d failed Year 12. Robin fell in love with bush life and its people.

In 1983, Robin married Alan and they ran ‘’Drumlion”, the 40,000 acre sheep property, (near where Robin’s father grew up) which taught Robin many practical skills, and sewing for friends’ babies she eventually opened a kids shop in Townsville. The store was managed by someone else and Robin sewed at ‘’Drumlion”. The venture was a costly failure but the lessons invaluable.

They sold ‘’Drumlion’’ and moved into Longreach in 1992 with their three young children – Jack, Zoe and Roddy – setting up a commercial bed and breakfast.

Hats began their journey in 1996 with Kathy Moloney, through Bush Harvest, a craft co–op Robin helped found. By 1997/98, The Two Madhatters – a name born over a bottle of red with Robin’s slightly mad brother – were selling hats at many field days across two states. With a team of nearly five in the work room, a share market crash saw them lose almost everything. Alan and Robin, looking for a new challenge and with little money for boarding school fees, decided it was time to move.

The Strangs opened PetCafé – The Grocery Store for Pets – in Townsville in 2005, with Robins Madhatters studio built into the back and fondly nicknamed Hats and Hounds!

Now Robin  Strang is creating race hats as well as fabrics, with a wonderful team of seven in the PetCafé. Their children educated, they can finally see rainbows again.


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