The sun shines through the trees and a brightly coloured hat perched on a stand marks the way through the front gate of an old church in Gordon.
Stepping through its front door marks the beginning of an old world adventure.
Hundreds of hats of all shapes, styles, colours and sizes are displayed on makeshift hat stands throughout the beautifully restored church.
Welcome to the Gordon Hat Shoppe - the home of Sheina and Bob Petch's unique range of headwear and brooch plumes that is bringing to life a fashion statement of a time past with an appeal to buyers young and old.
Sheina and Bob have been in the business of hats for more than 40 years.
Fifteen years ago Bob stumbled upon the old Anglican church in Gordon for sale. The couple purchased the property after falling in love with the historic building, renovated it, built a cottage out the back and relocated from their home in Melbourne.
Sheina said it was an opportunity to create a unique gallery in the beautiful historic space that attracted visitors from Melbourne and surrounding regional areas.
"We absolutely love it. We love it here in Gordon and we have this unique business. No one does anything like us in Australia and possibly the world," she said.
We love it here in Gordon and we have created this unique business. No one does anything like us in Australia and possibly the world. There's nothing like this in Scotland or England.Sheina Patch, Gordon Hat and Boot Shoppes
"It is a really interesting and challenging business and very creative."
The Gordon Hat Shoppe specialises in fur felt hat bodies and Harris Tweed, a pure handwoven wool made in Scotland that is known for its quality that never frays.
Sheina and Bob have recently expanded to Melbourne-made Harris Tweed ugg boots they are selling from the Boot Shop across the road.
Sheina said their hats and boots are of a high quality that has become rare to find in Australia.
"Harris Tweed still stands alone for its quality. There is nothing like it in the world," she said.
"In this day and age there is not many pure wool fabrics around. A lot of it is blended or made in China and there is a compromise on quality."
Sheina and Bob's diverse range of hats has developed and changed throughout their 40 years in business.
One of their best selling recent additions is a celtic gypsy hat that features Sheina's invention of a reverse bow tie.
"The celtic gypsy has changed our whole business. They are very popular," Bob said.
"They are a design from the island and we make them. If I go to the market and sell 15 hats, 10 of them will be those. It has easily been the best seller."
Sheina said they see women wearing the hats around town during the winter.
Other styles include a women's beret cap that is popular with golfers, bowlers, clochers and fascinators.
Most are based on styles of a time past that many customers describe as 'very Miss Fisher'.
Sheina said most customers first reaction was 'wow' and that they have 'never seen anything like it'.
Many customers are Scottish or English and share stories of their ancestors and experience with Harris Tweed.
"A lot of them say they have been driving up and down the freeway for two or three years and have finally come in to see what is in Gordon, or that they have heard about the hat shop," Sheina said.
Many of their customers travel from Melbourne and some customers first visited the store when they were located in Glen Waverley, while some pass through after visiting Daylesford.
Sheina said business had improved since they moved to Gordon.
"It is such an experience for people to come in. When we were younger we used to do a lot of direct selling at the Royal Sydney Show, the Royal Melbourne Show and quality craft markets like Red Hill," she said.
"We had a showroom on our premises in Melbourne, but we never had anything like this. That is how it has evolved."
Some hats are made from a fur felt body, while other are made with Harris Tweed. A couple in Melbourne block them while Sheina puts the trims on.
Friends in New Zealand make a lot of the hats, while a lady in Belgrave makes vests and berets for the store and two ladies in Ballarat create brooches and scarves.
Sheina said they always keep lots of stock to cater for her daughter who also works in the business selling hats at the Port Fairy Folk Festival and Clunes Booktown.
"Now we have got the boot shop I said to Bob 'that is it, I am not doing anything else or I am going to retire'," she said.
"Bob and I are 74. We only run the shop three days a week and we are hoping to run it for another 10 years because we love it. None of this retiring and doing the gardening thing. We really like running the shop. I think it keeps you alive."
Harris Tweed ugg boots are Sheina and Bob's newest addition to their product range, responding to the popularity of warm boots during the region's cold winter.
The couple has transformed their antique shop across the road from the old church into a new boot shop, adding to the experience of visiting the hat shop.
The high-quality boots are made by a couple in Laverton who complete the entire process from sheep skin to boot with 18 staff.
"So much stuff in Australia is made in China," Bob said.
"This couple from scratch get the skins, wash them, stretch them, dye them, clip them, cut them and make these beautiful boots which we have Harris Tweed laminated onto them."
The boot shop is also targeting a new group of young customers who are seeing old styles as trendy again.
The shop stocks Blundstones which Bob said were appealing to younger customers.
"When I am at the market at Daylesford I watch these young girls with peasant type skirts and boots," he said.
Shiena and Bob are keeping alive old styles many in today's fashion world have lost appreciation for.
They are making their products relevant and attractive by creating an immersive visitor experience that is fun and personal.
Sheina encourages younger women who come into the shop to try an older style and older women who come into the shop to continue to dress up and stand out - to 'not become invisible'.
"I think a lot of women and men have become too casual. They don't wear hats and they don't dress up at all. I say to myself I am not going to get into my rag clothes, I am not going to become invisible. I dress up all the time," she said.
"A lot of people say as you get older you become invisible. I say to a lot of people who are my age who come into the shop, 'don't become invisible, wear a bright colour. We can find you something brighter'."
The Gordon Hat Shoppe is open from Friday to Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm at 55 Brougham Street in Gordon.
You may not think of an old style hat and boot shop to align with the idea of innovation.
But Sheina and Bob Petch, the couple behind the Gordon Hat and Boot Shoppes, are constantly changing and adapting their business to appeal to a broad market and attract visitors to Gordon.
They are creating an experience for visitors that is personal and truly unique providing reason to visit beyond simply buying a hat.
The Ballarat Innovation series aims to move past the buzz word idea of innovation and instead celebrate the diversity the word offers, telling the stories of start ups, entrepreneurs, creators, thriving manufacturers and established businesses that are making change to ensure sustainability.
The region's creative minds and artisans are quietly innovating to make their craft and passion viable in a society where many consumers are stuck in a cycle of buying cheap and fast.
They are celebrated in Visit Ballarat's new tourism campaign Made of Ballarat and promoted as the people who can provide a point of difference for our historic city and attract Melbourne's 'lifestyle leaders' to Ballarat.
The campaign is gaining traction. Ballarat has been nominated breakthrough destination of the year in the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Awards.
It is testament to the power and appeal of innovative creatives that can provide an experience for consumers.
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