Hi, I keep seeing all these gorgeous, beautiful hats and wonder: Where does everyone sell their hats? I do have an Etsy store which has been nice, but I haven't found any other niche. Opening my own store is out of the question for many reasons. Years ago I went the consignment route and don't think I'll do that again. I would love any input, before I start 'peddling my wares' door to door! And then it becomes hard to compete with every $35 fedora, including Nordstroms. I'm thinking of sending a sample hat to a few select stores, with other pictures, price list, and a cover letter.

Thanks for your input.


Tags: Essential Discussions, consignment, sample, selling

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I was lucky as a new store, especially for local designers, set up in my area.  They found me on Etsy.  I've sold more through this little, local, shop in three months than two years on Etsy.  My hats are on consignment, but I trust the owners and they display and market my hats well.  Being nearby means I can check on them too.   

I love this as it allows me to experiment a bit - they're happy to try my design experiments  with no loss to either of us.  As I only want to make one-off hats and to stay small, it works perfectly for me.    I also get a few orders from friends, and friends of friends.    

Perhaps, when I get more confident, I'll take some of my hats to more up-market fashion, stores, but I think the personal approach is important and I wouldn't just send the hats, but make an appointment and take a selection in.

It sounds as if you have found the perfect arrangement! And yes, Etsy has been very slow, and I don't put in the hours of work needed on Etsy to help promote your stuff. You've given me the encouragement to get back out there and find another store. I'm really open to consignment with the right arrangement. Past consignment shops weren't ideal and they have since closed shop. But I have learned alot since then. 

I've had three hats - boxed- in my trunk to send to three shops, but my gut told me that two of them were probably going to hat heaven and never to be seen or heard from again! LOL Maybe I'll just send the one and follow up with a visit.

Thanks for your input

You are so right. A hat may look great on one person and terrible on another. I have found that to be true with some of my hats. My hats are always returnable, but I'm sure people may not want to bother with a return. Not to mention the fun of going into a hat store with a friend and trying on many hats!  I think I will have to be more assertive with boutiques...not my strength!!

Thanks for your input

I understand "The Hat Box" in Brisbane works on consignment with many milliners- 60% to milliner & 40% to store which is a fair arrangement. Make sure decision is made re who pays delivery to store and who supplies packaging?? Make an arrangement to do a stock check on - 28th of each month so they can pay you by end of month. If hat is damaged make arrangement with them to deal with it- do it at outset as it will eliminate difficulties later. Assure them of your loyalty to them and you will not supply another store in that town.

I have sold hats to boutiques and shoe stores as well as hat stores. Be careful with boutiques if using on consignment system that they do not use your hat to decorate their outfits in shop window & no sales and you are left with a sun faded hat!!

When approaching a store with no more than 6 samples of your work, it has to be presented as "What is in it for them" not you. Your pitch needs to be to help them sell the outfits or shoes/bags that will co-ordinate...then offer a service, if you live close to location, by having consultations with their clients in their store to design hat or piece for the outfit. Always ask store about new season colors and make small pieces that co-ordinate. Offer to co-ordinate pieces for Fashion parade they may be holding and ask for an opportunity for them to introduce you as the Boutiques Consulting Milliner. Go with your gut feeling on response after an enquiry - if you feel you can not work with that owner move on to next. 

Marketing your product is not easy but have the attitude of a Dr who loses a patient and says "Next Please" ...if a store manager is negative to what you are offering just say to yourself -"Next Please"- keep knocking on doors and one will open.

Great Advice and great timing! As I had planned on making my pitch to various boutiques and shops in the next week. Six is a good number, enough to attract woman to engage in 'the fun of trying on hats', and not too many for tracking purposes. Should I negotiate if owner stipulates a 50/50 split, or just take whole account into consideration? We travel to Florida in the winter, so I will bring my stash of straw. Chicago is done buying straw hats for now! Thank you for sharing your valued expertise to 'newbies' like myself. Where it is easy to get frustrated, and disheartened at times.

Thanks for sharing that Kathleen

I would never do a 50/50 split - you are the artisan of your work and I hope that you are doing this to make a living and not just for fun.  It is essential that you work out your profit margins before you go offering to sell to a shop.  If the store offers to sell on sale or return within 30 days, then the price is on you and so is the profit margin...generally try for 2.5PM and no lower than 2.7% PM as you will eventually tire of selling to the stores and start to feel cheated, when you realise that you are not bringing enough profit into YOUR BANK!!  you are working for yourself and not for the Store you sell to - so it is only logical that you should come away with the greater part of the profit.  Also in 30 days the store may not want to pay you when you come to collect your money and drop another collection, so you also have to factor in loss of profit (Gross for your bank account) and an admin charge the longer it takes them to give you a cheque....(this usually covers the fact that you travelled to the store and wasted your time, and also phonecalls to who ever is responsible for issuing the cheque etc)  That is how you need to run a successful business for it to grow or you will fade into oblivion and your work will only remain a HOBBY.

Hi Edith,

In past years, I've found when an item is placed in a consignment shop, It is guaranteed that will be the LAST thing suggested/sold to a customer , after all the owners (already paid for) items are suggested. It is no sweat off their back not to sell my item. They are already paying interest on the money borrowed for their stock. My stuff is simply an adornment. 

I tried something new last time, from my husband's suggestion (retired successful salesman), very much against my belief. I told the buyer , it she still had the hat in 6months, I would buy it back- if there was a minimum order placed. Knowing that the end of the Florida market, starts the Chicago market, and if the hat was in poor shape, it could be reloved into something else.. But I sell at a certain price, and I don't care what they sell it for. Also ,sometimes every store requires a different approach. But I know the 'cheated' feel, and I loved your advice. It could be a huge gamble and I will let you know in 6 months how it turned out !!



A few ideas here - WHERE TO SELL

I've just pulled some of my millinery from the third such boutique, simply because they damaged the hats with carelessness; dropping them and using bluetak to attach the hats to mannequins. It's frustrating; as with each and every store I spent time with the staff explaining handling etc. They've all received bills to fix up their damages.

You're your best model when it comes to your millinery. Be your own walking mannequin and make sure you wear one of your hats at every possible, public, occasion. Keep your business cards on you at all times. Maybe make a sticker up for your car, advertising your business/ website. 

Also, if I have a hat in a boutique that isn't selling I refuse to drop the price. I either re-circulate to another outlet or re-furbish the hat. 

That's really useful Megan. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Megan,

Oh, what a terrible feeling to pick up a damaged hat, with bluetak!!  These are like our 'babies' when we are finally finished with them. I am getting better at trying to be my own advertisement, but I live in a very casual 'world'!  I need to be transported to Richmond or Australia or someplace!! Thank you for your input and advice, and it is such a good reminder to be your 'own best advertisement'.  I'm a plain jane who loves costume and theater, but I'm trying to get better at creating something, I would put on and walk out the door!



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