14 June 2024 - By Michelle Meyers

If you have followed me for a while you will know I am a huge Rebecca Share and Hat Atelier fan. I love her modern approach to millinery and the huge energy she brings to every lesson.

Rebecca had announced on her socials she would be taking things international and heading to Bali in May '24 for her first ever International Millinery Retreat, and I knew I HAD to be there!

Fast forward 6 months! The day had finally arrived, I threw some clothes in a suitcase... (we will talk about luggage later - that's a topic in itself), and lets be clear when I say threw, if you know me you know, I mean I carefully curated outfits & placed them in packing cubes neatly in my luggage. Then I jumped in the car and drove a leisurely 3 and half hours to Sydney, popped the car in park and fly and I was off to the airport.

I love to be prepared, with lists for lists, so the fact that Rebecca had prepared a very comprehensive booklet in the lead up to the retreat was amazing. I'd never been to Bali before, but Rebecca had not left anything to chance, she covered all the visitor entry requirements, VISA, currency, taxis etc etc - AMAZING!

Side Note here - I was heading off on this trip alone, and if you are unsure and contemplating if you should travel alone, I would have no hesitations, Rebecca and husband Brett leave nothing to chance and they are always available to answer your questions.

My flight with Virgin flew direct to Denpasar, departed at in the evening, meaning with the 2 hour time difference it was about 10.30pm when I arrived. Thanks to Rebecca's guide, I had a super smooth process through customs and headed straight to my hotel.

Having not been to Bali before, I decided to stay at the Novotel at the airport for the night and would head to the retreat the next day. The Novotel is connected to the airport so after a few minutes walk, I was all checked into my room in BALI! All ready for the adventure to start the next day.

  • Mandatory departure photo

DAY 1 - Hello Bali

I had pre booked a driver to collect me from the Novotel with Tic Bali.

After a short ride with my driver I arrived at our beautiful accomodation for the next 5 days in Seminyak. This location had been carefully chosen by Rebecca, and it was absolutely perfect for a group of 8. With 2 villas, each comprising of 4 private bedrooms and ensuite quarters off the main living area, ensuring we could come together for our chef prepared breakfasts as group & for lessons, but we all had 100% private spaces to retreat to. There were also 2 private pools for our exclusive use.

Upon entering my room I found a little basket of goodies on the bed to welcome me from Rebecca, such a nice touch.

One by one, all my new millinery buddies started to arrive, from Melbourne, NSW, Queensland and even New Zealand.

We all met in one Villa, and the cocktails started to flow, thanks to Brett, who made sure the cocktails were bottomless. And for me well, being a non drinker Rebecca and Brett made sure those Coke No Sugars were well stocked.

Within a couple of hours we had laughed and shared our stories and I felt like I'd known some of these women for ages. Such an amazing group of women, all at different stages in their lives and their millinery journeys. But one thing we all worked out pretty quick was we were set for an amazing week with lots of laughs in a very supportive environment. This retreat had attracted such amazing attendees which is a true testament to Rebecca and the people who respect her both personally and as a millinery mentor.

We then headed out for some dinner together, all excited for the next day.

  • Warm welcome to our villa

DAY 2 - Beads, Beads and more Beads!

After a chef cooked breakfast, we all headed to meet in villa one to learn all things beads!

Rebecca started the lesson explaining her tips and tricks to working with beads and then we set out to create our first piece for the retreat, you can imagine my excitement when the colour palette was....... PINK!

We worked with wire and beads learning one of Rebecca's signature techniques. By lunch we had a 8 ladies wearing their creations, all from the same beads but we all put our own spin on the piece, after all isn't that what millinery is all about?

We then headed off for lunch at one of Rebecca's fave restaurants, it was a black bun vegie burger for me, and then we were off Bead shopping!

Now we all know I am an avid shopper, but I am just going to say, I was overwhelmed when we walked in the door!
What to buy first?
OMG the colours!
The shapes!
I am totally in love!

This bead store was nothing like I'd experienced before, just amazing! As we all made our way through the store, we would pass one another, looking at what the others had chosen.

  • Fully immersed in bead buying

This bead store was nothing like I'd experienced before, just amazing! As we all made our way through the store, we would pass one another, looking at what the others had chosen.

With a huge haul of beads in hand, it was back to the villa for a wardrobe change for dinner.

As the sun set on a beautiful day we headed to La Lucciola for a beautiful feast, for so many laughs and reflections on our huge day together, and to watch the beautiful Bali Sunset.

  • Dinner & Sunset at La Lucciola

DAY 3 - Wired!

Let me start by saying I could get use to starting the day with a chefs cooked breakfast, such a great start to another big day.

Today Rebecca introduced us to the wonderful world of wirework, making flowers as the centre of a statement piece, we went through the different types of flowers and wrapping techniques, and stamens to produce an individual design. Once again I love seeing everyone take the same technique, and materials, and make them their own.

After a day of flower making, the group split in 2 groups, one group headed out for Mexican, and the other group went shopping, I'll let you decide which group I was in... (shopping of course!)

  • Rebecca explaining the techniques

DAY 4 - Plastic Fantastic

Ok, you know by now we started with breakfast! God I love food!

This morning we headed off early to 2 stories of absolute heaven. More sewing and beading supplies than you could ever imagine.

Rebecca had been warning us all week, "you just wait, you just wait!" I have never seen so many options, of threads, beads, elastics, ribbons and so so much more! After entering the store I soon had a little helper who carried a basket for me as I selected my treasures ( might I add I am not a princess and was more than happy to carry my own basket, but she was going to follow me either way - so I did make sure to tip her) those baskets got heavy and there were stairs! It was right around this time I started to get concerned about my baggage limit......

There was a phone call to Mum back home in Australia to confirm what supplies we needed to stock up on, and I grabbed some essential supplies ( lets put it this way, we wont be buying over priced elastic in Australia for a while)

It was like Christmas, the things you only dream about, have I mentioned how lucky I feel to have had this opportunity, this was unbelievable.

Now I am not going to give away any secrets but what we learnt from Rebecca today was A-MAZING! So creative and was all about reusing material, and that's about all I can say without giving away some insider secrets.

There were so many different flowers created, and I decided to try the technique on some stamens for a bit of interest.

Brett arrived by scooter with burgers in hand for lunch, then it was off for a quick shop at a straw hat supplier and a for a massage at BodyWorks.

We all headed back to the villas for an early night, relaxed and calm after amazing massages.

DAY 5 - Fabric Shopping (my weakness)

I woke up today with excitement! Fabric shopping day!

Straight after breakfast it was off to 5 floors of heaven! Every type of fabric you could think of...... stay focused Michelle!

Again I soon had a helper walking around with me, and I made my way through so many different fabric options. Slowly there was a pile building of my choices, something for every season.

Aggggh I want to show you all my amazing finds but you will see them in up coming outfits really soon.

When we returned to the Villa, I started to think about my luggage situation, soon the luggage scales came out ( Thanks Jill) and I started to think maybe the 64kg I had attached to my booking wouldnt be enough, so I ducked to the shops and negotiated on another (hot pink) suitcase and called Virgin for more luggage just to be sure. Surely 96kg checked luggage and 14kg carry on was going to be enough. Now if you book on an Millinery Retreat with Rebecca, I am telling you come prepared! Bring a suitcase in a suitcase and buy extra baggage limit, you are going to need it! I work on the theory you are better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. The Australian dollar was the highest its been in a while whilst we were in Bali, so it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of being able to source items not available in Australia and the prices are amazing.

Friday afternoon we went to work on Perchers under Rebecca's guidance, the perfect base for the plastic fantastic flowers.

Then It was time to head off to our cooking lesson. We learnt traditional cooking methods, and the best bit we were able to eat what we cooked! Along with weaving a traditional head piece to ensure we were truly dressed for the occasion.

DAY 6 - Last minute shopping & Goodbyes

Today was the end of the Millinery retreat and the last opportunity for those leaving Seminyak to get their last supplies.

Half the group headed off at 7am ( no points for guessing which group I was in) for one last shop for supplies and then back to the villas for breakfast.

Then it was time to pack all our new treasures up and say our goodbyes to our new millinery mates.

Some people extended their stay in Bali and others headed home. I headed off to Sanur alone for a couple of days of quiet time ( I know thats almost impossible for me). I'll do another blog post for that part of my trip, I cannot wait to share my floating breakfast pic!

This last week was an absolutely amazing opportunity, our group clicked from the very beginning and I am so lucky to have made 7 new friends. There was laughter and there were tears, and this will not be the last time we will all be together.

Rebecca and Brett were amazing hosts. Their love of Bali shines through and delivers a trip unlike any other.

All the techniques Rebecca was generous enough to share were new and exciting, and with such a varied group were still relevant for all skill levels. Rebecca's ability to think out of the box and challenge the boundaries of materials not traditionally used for millinery is second to none, and I just can't wait for the next Millinery retreat with her.

- Michelle Meyers @theheelsnwheelsgirl
This blog post is from the heart and is not sponsored or endorsed in anyway.


Stay tuned for new dates to be released soon!