Q Tell us about your childhood
A I was born in Belfast. I'm 46 now and I've lived in Belfast most of my life, apart from when I moved to England at university stage.
I am the eldest of four kids, two boys and two girls. My mum was the principal of a nursery school and taught all her life. She has also been an artist - a painter - and has been involved in curating shows. My dad was a quantity surveyor.
Q What are you most proud of?
A This year I made a hat for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. I'm pretty proud of that. I have made hats for the Ascot royal enclosure, but never actually for royalty before. It was quite an honour to meet Sarah and design a hat for her. I met her through a mutual friend, Dr Gabriela Mercik, who has her own aesthetics skin practice in London.
The hat I created has a halo design - it's green leather and has a snood which Sarah referred to as "an Elizabethan hairnet". She asked me for that feature on the hat specifically.
Q The one regret you wish you could amend?
A That I didn't finish my PhD - I just didn't get there in the end. It came to the fourth or fifth year of part-time study and I was working at the same time and just lost the impulse with it. I look back and I think, why didn't I just push myself across the line?
My undergraduate degree is in music. I was doing research into the body as a vocal resonator. I know that all sounds wacky but PhDs are pretty much (laughs).
Q What about phobias. Do you have any?
A I can't stand being around or near slugs. Even talking about them gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Q The temptation you cannot resist?
A I absolutely love cheese - any kind of smelly, mouldy cheese.
I find it hard to resist a cheese board at the end of a meal out. I love so many local restaurants but Deanes EIPIC cheese would be top of my list for their Epoisses - you heat it gently in the oven and it comes out and sort of crawls around the plate by itself.
Q Your number one prized possession?
A All the wooden hat blocks that I have collected over the years. The blocks are so unique and every time you use them they get little pinholes in them, so they have a character of their very own.
They are used as a base to mould shapes around. You pin fabric to the block, then steam and stiffen it depending on the material.
It's an old artisan practice that has been around for a few centuries.
Q The book that's most impacted your life?
A John Berger's Ways of Seeing. It a stereotypical arts school textbook. The book is an invitation to look at the world around us differently.
It makes you think about the concept of beauty, existential questions about life itself, and the importance of art and creativity.
Q If you had the power or authority, what would you do?
A I would oversee a campaign to rebuild small towns and city centres. I have this overwhelming sadness at the demise of the high street. I'm talking about the independent boutique owners, restauranteurs, cafe owners, and things that bring culture, life and vibrancy.
If I had the power I would use it to overhaul the business rates system and give incentives for the occupation of vacant business units for example - anything really to support the small, independent business owner.
There's a lot of talk in Belfast about the Tribeca area down at the Cathedral Quarter and there's so much potential there. Let's try to do it right and build things up and create livelihoods and sustainable businesses, and maybe have things like collaborations and shared spaces.
Q What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A Brexit. The very concept of it I find so frustrating because I was so pro-Europe and pro us having our own identity, whether that be British, Irish, Northern Irish - whatever you want to call yourself. I felt we were stronger being part of the European Community.
Between that and the current British government's dealing with the pandemic situation, I just feel like they are the obvious answers to that question.
Q Who has most influenced you in life?
A My mum and dad, Kay and Maurice Cullen, have really influenced me because they have given me the tools that I needed to be the person that I am - in other words, they promoted my creative side.
My mum has worked very hard in her career and she is involved in so many things, such as painting classes, bridge and her church choir. She's a very sociable person and has an 'up and at it' type of mentality. My dad is very like that too.
I think I have been given a good set of life skills because of the way my parents brought me up. They are very tolerant and liberal. They come from traditional Catholic backgrounds so there's nothing radical about them, but they are very open minded and have modern views.
Q Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?
A Roisín Murphy, the lead singer of Moloko. She has the most incredible voice and sense of style. Way before Lady Gaga came on the scene, she would have worn hats with every outfit. I love her whole vibe and I'd say she would be great craic.
Then, I'd also invite artist Tracey Emin. I think she would be mouthy and would have fantastic world views of everything.
And I'd want Isabelle Blow, who was an editor of British Vogue back in the day, to be there too.
She was the one who discovered the milliner Philip Treacy, fashion designer Alexander McQueen and others. She loved headwear and masks as they gave her a sense of confidence and beauty. I'd love an hour or two in her company.
Q The best piece of advice you've ever received?
A Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. I'm not sure who said it to me, I have just heard it so many times. And follow your passion. That's why I have always been a self-employed person - even before working in millinery I was self-employed in radio.
It's about finding your passion and what makes you tick. You can turn whatever your passions are into the thing that makes you a living.
Q The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A I absolutely adore houseplants. I have a natural green finger that I get from my mum and my granny, and the ability to bring things back to life.
I've been creating flowers out of fabric and leather for years, and I have always been inspired by flora and used it in a lot of different things that I do such as my Lady Garden range.
I started painting a year and a half ago for the very first time - I wanted to create fabric patterns and I started looking at nude paintings for research. Then I began doing watercolours of ladies' breasts. For the concept of the Lady Garden I incorporated floral design, and with the breast art as well, just to celebrate the beauty of boobs.
Now there's a whole range of materials in cushions, lampshades, mugs and things. It's going down a treat and I am already working on the second range which will be out in the middle of 2021. I think there is room for tongue-in-cheek sexy interiors.
Q The poem that touches your heart?
A A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight by James Joyce. The poem is about love and it's very gruesome. The last few words of it are "pluck and devour". The words from the poem became the name of the label that I created originally for my perspex jewellery and now use for my fabrics and printed range.
My ex-husband and I met at college and we set the poem to music as one of our assignments, so it has sentimental value and happy memories.
Q The happiest moment of your life?
A As a parent of three children, Sorcha (15), Cuan (13) and Seadhna (12), I can't help but think about those little moments following childbirth when you have the smell and warmth of a brand new baby in your arms.
There is no other feeling like it in the world - it's the happiest, most simple thing.
Q And the saddest?
A We sold the marital house after my divorce and the day we closed the door on that house was the saddest day ever.
That was the house where we brought the children up and have so many fantastic memories of.
It was beautiful five-bedroom Victoria terrace on the Ravenhill Road, and I had thought it was a home for life and it didn't turn out that way.
Q The one event that made a difference in your life?
A One of my best friends, Katrina Doran, used to work in PR. I had my own little pop-up boutique called Proof on the Ormeau Road in 2011. I had collated fashion from Northern Ireland designers under one roof.
Katrina was at a press conference for the MTV Europe Music Awards and she met the wardrobe manager who asked her where was cool in Belfast to get some Irish designerwear. She was styling the hosts Selena Gomez and Jessie J.
Katrina introduced this lady to me and she used two sets of my jewellery. Over 60 million people watched the EMAs and that experience gave me so much confidence.
And within weeks I had my own concession in the House of Fraser.
Q What's the ambition that keeps driving you forward?
A To always be creating something new, to diversity no matter what it is that I'm doing,
I have a whole spring/summer collection in production now and it's like nothing that anyone else is doing at the moment and I'm chuffed to bits about it.
I'm using a Japanese flower making technique - I can't discuss it until I have it out there.
To always be starting something new and carving out new territory, that's what really drives me.
Q What's the philosophy that you live by?
A Find joy in the ordinary. To find happiness in the simple things in life is my philosophy.
Q How do you want to be remembered?
A As someone who has a positive outlook. How you mentally deal with things dictates everything.
I'd like to be remembered as a positive, fun, kind, creative person, and someone who can turn her hand to anything.
See Grainne's range at grainnemaher.co.uk