Top 40: Rio Branner
Contributed - Aug 24, 2023 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Over 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Over 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the ninth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.


After high school, Rio Branner worked at a high-end retail shop by day and created fashion accessories by night. 

Branner’s supportive boss recognized her sensational instincts and offered valued mentorship. Meanwhile, sales of her handmade goods took off, and in 1998 Branner quit her job to become a full-time designer and maker.

By 2018, a determined Branner began a substantial investment into the tools, rare vintage hat blocks and materials required for the specialized millinery trade. In 2020, she registered with the Hat Academy of Australia and began her formal training in millinery.

After receiving her completion certificate in early 2021, Branner set her sights on the next goal: a hat shop of her own. Rio Branner, Milliner & Merchant opened its doors in spring 2022. Located in downtown Kelowna, the boutique is the culmination of Branner’s decades as a successful designer, artisan and businesswoman.

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