Meet Declan Byrne, creator of Fry Baby, a small business creating limited edition hats that celebrate the work of Aussie artists! Working and creating on beautiful Darkinjung Country on the Central Coast of NSW, Fry Baby turns amazing local art into embroidered patches and stitches them onto colourful corduroy hats. Every month, Declan collaborates with a different Australian artist to create limited edition hats in small batches for those who like to collect art and wear it!
Fry Baby is joining The Finders Keepers Market for the first time this December at the Hordern Pavilion, and we’ve teamed up with Declan on something extra special to commemorate our 15th year in business… Find out more below!
What inspired you to start Fry Baby, and what’s the story behind the name?
The main inspiration was my obsession with hats and particularly op shop finds. Before starting Fry Baby I got sick of scouring second hand stores and finding nothing, so I started creating my own one offs from embroidered patches I’d collected. I got quite a few compliments on a homemade green corduroy hat with a Mt Kosciuszko patch I bought after hiking there one winter and thought, why not turn this into something bigger.
Then there was also a love of local art and a dwindling amount of wall space in my house. So I decided to utilise the spare real estate above my eyebrows to show off some of my favourite Australian artists. Lastly, I was going bald and hats are a great (and sun safe) way to cover my big dome.
The name Fry Baby came from an extensive market research campaign of approx four people who all liked that name out of the random combos I’d come up with. That’s what all the big brands do right?!
It’s your first Finders Keepers Market; what can shoppers expect to find at your stall?
At the Fry Baby stall you’ll find a heap of limited edition, colourful, fun hats in collaboration with local visual artists. They’re mostly corduroy hats but you’ll also see some terry towelling buckets, kids corduroy lids, lighter surf hats and Fry Baby Vintage wears.
There are also two very special and secret additions at the Fry Baby stall – a super limited edition Finders Keepers collaboration hat (shhhh) and a small amount of previously sold-out hats that aren’t available online. It’s first in best dressed for those jewels!
You’ll also likely find my wife and 20 month old kid who are dedicated and much needed helpers and definitely not unpaid employees 😉
What’s a hidden talent, secret skill, or fun fact about yourself that customers might find interesting?
Whilst hats are a major passion, I still spend most of my time working in radio. I started at FBi Radio in Sydney, worked for nearly 10 years at triple j and now do sports podcasting and commentary with ABC Sport and others. My secret skill is making a real tasty guacamole. I haven’t found a way to combine the three yet but now that I think about it… guac hat incoming???
Favourite collaboration so far?
Choosing my favourite hat is like choosing my favourite child and with over 50 Fry Baby hats released across three years, I don’t want to risk getting 50+ kids angry at me.
However, the recent ‘Tillie Time’ hat went pretty large and was a cool way to celebrate the Matildas incredible run at the World Cup. It featured an embroidered Sam Kerr doing her iconic backflip and seeing the hats at Matildas’ games, on TV and in the streets was a special moment. Recently in Perth a dedicated member of the Fry Baby fam and Tillies fan, Maria, got a photo with the ‘Tillie Time’ hat and Sam Kerr, so that was pretty epic.
If you could collaborate with any other market stallholder at this event to create a unique product, who would it be?
I’ve especially loved collaborating with First Nations artists like Yarli Creative, Tylah Saunders, Molly Hunt, K-Rae Designs, Lulu Coombes, and House of Darwin. The Fry Baby fam always adores those hats. So if any Indigenous Australian artists like Alejandro Lauren, Badagarang Designs or Soul Reign were keen to work together on a Fry Baby hat, I’d be so up for that.
What are your hopes for the future of Fry Baby? Are there any dream collabs or new products you want to create?
Despite searching high and low, I haven’t been able to suss out a local hat maker, and I still source the blank hats overseas. So please hit me up if you are one or know of someone! Otherwise, I’m keen to keep collaborating with many special artists and making hats that turn heads. There might be some more apparel one day, but I like keeping wastage at a minimum for now, so my irregular Fry Baby Vintage drops with sold-out patches sewn onto op shop finds are a different way to celebrate the art.