I have recently been toying with the idea of going into bridal wear as well as developing a cheaper ready to wear collection for the "less serious buyer". As a young Milliner i know there are a lot of young people who want to enter Fashion on the field but don't quite have the income to support their greatest headwear desires. I have been thinking about doing two separate ranges one with a more "luxe" feel using leather etc with intricate designs and then a slightly more simplified collection which is aimed at a different market. 

When developing your millinery brand, is it best to create your own niche and appeal to a specific audience or can you successfully appeal to everyone? 

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I'm beginning to think that aiming for "affordable" is not a wise strategy. Those who can afford a $150 hat are probably just going to buy maybe a $70 hat from Goorin Brothers, for example. Those who can afford a $500 hat are going to buy a $500 hat. I think sometimes in the middle is the hardest market to target.

I think the most successful artists find a niche — whether it's a specific style/occasion or just a price point. It can be harder to market yourself as everything to everybody. Unfortunately.

I'm still trying to find my own niche.

I agree Kristin..Finding a niche is difficult but very important. I am focusing on Bridal and now it is easier to formulate a plan and market my upcoming products. Great advice!

I'm a complete millinery novice, I've been doing okay for myself so far because I have a niche market, drag queens.  

My designs are blatantly tacky and kitschy, it's worked well for me so far.  I definitely don't think I can compete with more traditional designers.  

It'll be tough for you startingout since you'll have to compete with more main-stream designers.

Hi Ladies, 

Thank you for your comments, it is so helpful to have the reminder that there are in fact so many different markets available and Kristin you are so right. If people are going to pay for a well made hat they are going to pay regardless of the price because they understand the craftsmanship. I pride myself on the finish of my hats and just need to remind myself every now and then that it is worth the effort even if it means that my brand doesn't appeal to some people. 

Soph

I started out approximately 4 months ago. I'm a young milliner who is focusing on creating fantasy and alternative inspired headwear.

After exhibiting my millinery for the first time at a comic convention a few weeks ago, observing potential buyers and how they interacted with my stall revealed a lot to me about prices and target audiences for my headpieces. I took a bit of everything, as I'd experimented with pieces in different styles, and the pieces I thought would sell were different to the ones people took an interest in.

Many of the pieces I took to the event, I reduced by $20-$30 from the price on my website, as most of the attendees were between 18-30 and would likely not have as much budget to spend. However, there were also a few older ladies taking their children or grandchildren to the event, who asked if I could do Spring Racing.

I also had enquiries as to whether I'd rent out pieces, which is something I've observed on Instagram and several websites starting up specialising in rentals for those who may not be able to afford the purchase of a new or bespoke piece. Personally, I can't see myself hiring out pieces. I hope that my pieces are worn more than once!

There's always going to be a few individuals who think your work is too expensive. But there's a design process behind custom made pieces, and craftsmanship, training and investments such as hat blocks, which often gets missed when coming to price a hat.

My intention was originally not to make any pieces for "traditional" Spring Racing as I didn't think my style would be worn or accepted at such events, but I think I've hit a niche market of ladies (and gents) wanting a piece that's a little bit different. I've reached out to local LARP/medieval re-enactment groups and other alternative communities. It's hard to appeal to everyone, but I'm sticking with making designs that come from my heart.

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