As I'm new to millinery I'm still to learn afew things, well Alot, but my biggest concern is how to I determine how much to sell a hat for? Is there a method used to work this out?

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I think the best thing to do, is to determine your production costs, and make sure you don't ask less than that. It is a good thing to check your competitors prices, it gives you a good indication of what is excepted in the market.

Thank you Petro.

It's hard to determine a price for your time when new - everything takes twice as long as it will take for someone more experienced and we're made to feel guilty about charging for our time. I have however, found for myself, the best way I establish a cost, is to know all my expenses. Once you have a good idea of what it actually costs you, you have less trouble deciding what to charge.

I spent years underselling my designs before i one day realised it was sending be broke and cost me more to make and sell things than to not make them at all.

MYOB type templates are good, but a well thought out Excel spreadsheet works just as well- factor in all the materials including miscellaneous thread, fabric stiffener etc, it may be necessary to divide costs into units of usage. Other general overheads may also need to be included.

Include a rate / hours somewhere - even apprentices get minimum wage, this is also necessary to cover the service you provide, which is: a custom service tailored to each client, running around time and money for collecting specific materials, unique design service/consultation, your expertise on colour and materials use, your years of time and money invested in training and experience, etc. 

You could use this as a template for each creation, after some time it might help establish some categories or price ranges, and then you could average out some set prices for types of hats or design styles.

I think the more professionally we price, the more the customer will expect to pay for a beautifully made hat - and will understand the work that goes into it.

Charging for materials and overheads is just sensible, no-one wants to go broke - or to cheat the tax-man.  But charging for time is very, very important as it is this, plus the experience of the milliner, which determines the market value of the product / service the customer is buying.  

I keep a careful record of time and other expenses on an Excel spreadsheet as Emily recommends, but as a beginner, charge much less for my time than a more experienced milliner would (at least I hope I do).  As I become more experienced my product will reflect this and my prices will increase.     

Prices should not be kept artificially low by not reflecting the time and care needed to produce a beautiful, professional, hand-made hat.    It can only hurt the industry in the end I think.

Thank you ladies for your responses.

I like the idea of the Excel spreadsheet, and it also makes sense to charge for our time, and not keep our prices low just to sell, because then as Emily mentioned then we'd go broke. 

Your replies have been very helpful. 

Hi I pay myself an hourly rate and add on the cost of the materials.

so how much do you think is ok for an hourly rate in the Usa for a milliner.Now i think the starting rate is 16usd an hr

I wanna do millinery full time but my business is not very active.

Pricing is so difficult but so important. A quick formula for pricing is:

Materials(inc. packaging)+Labour(make sure you deep track of your hours)+Overheads+Profit = Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

Thanks Aoife - that says it simply. I charge  AU$30/hour. If I was not retiring I would have  put hourly rate up this season. Pricing depends on clientele base and demand for your hats and in early days I did not charge out at this price. I remember about 8 years ago my husband challenged me to increase the price by 10% as he could see me on overload = less pressure as may lose a few clients but still made same $$.....and it worked.  

My question would be, what should a new milliner like me charge per hour?  My husband has told me for years that I under price for my time when designing clothing etc.  I keep my labor rate pretty low, because I know I don't have the millinery experience that I have in other areas.  I guess I don't know WHAT I am worth.  I try not to "undersell" other milliners deliberately, because I agree that isn't good for the industry, but also am afraid to charge too much for labor, for fear that customers will think my work not good enough for the price.

Looking at your hats I really think you are underselling yourself. For me to make this blue piece in your profile pic.

Materials= felt $20 (as you have used only half a felt hood)

+ stiffener & wire $4

Trim & lining +petersham $20

Listing/marketing $5

3hrs work @ $30/hour = $90

Total wholesale $139

Retail $278 + Packaging & Handling costs added by retailer. (in Australia +10%GSTax)

If your work was billed at half my rate - $15/hour = $188.

Pricing is all about supply & demand. Where I live there is not a huge demand for hats @ my price so I needed to source a market where people have $$. I never took my hats to markets as I believed they were too upmarket in quality. This is about confidence and my big WHY I was going to give up my teaching career 20 yrs ago to pursue full time millinery business My WHY was to put my 4 kids through tertiary education and to be @ home for them through their teen I had determination to make it happen. Because I maintained my belief to only supply upmarket stores, word of mouth kicked in and stores were contacting me requesting purchases. Eight years ago a different interstate retailer phoned me, having seen my hats in an upmarket store and started purchasing my pieces as she also had an upmarket fashion store.  That led to another + another. I never supply 2 stores in same locality. Food for thought - Elaine

I think I was meant to find you!  I think part of it all with me is being more confident in my work.  Because I am self-taught and the only feedback that I get is from the few customers,I have had, and I haven't been doing this for very long, I have kept my prices lower.  In my location, a very rural location in Ohio in USA, there just isn't the market for fine hats.  Most people really do wear only ball caps and stocking caps.  I can make those, but they don't give me the same joy, which is why I have taken to the internet.  Most of my hats have been international sales. Do you think that my low prices could be costing me sales, because people think they are not quality?  The last sale that I made the customer, gushed about the good buy she made and the quaility of my hats.  She was going to give it as a gift and then decided to keep it.  That got me to thinking that she was surprised about the quality.



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