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.

Kathleen

Tags: Essential Discussions, consignment, sample, selling

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I teamed up with a local art gallery.  They have a gift shop and I've been there for a year now and it's been nothing but amazing.  They take a small percentage but because it's a art gallery they take really good care of my hats and in the contract if anything it stolen or ruined I get paid anyways.  I've also gone to stores and consignment shops and have done trunks shows, girls nights, and they have also done really well.  Etsy is slow but don't give up!  Mine has been dead for forever but it seems to be picking up steam.  Just make sure you use all 13 tags and have as many hats as possible to increase traffic.

Good Luck!

Hi Kathleen, I don't know where you are located but, I have found that local guilds are great for supporting me. In particular, I am a member of a weavers guild and we have an annual sale and trunk show that is juried, where I literally sell almost everything I create. The guild sale is one evening and 2 days long with invited guests but also open to the public for 2 days. This is not a craft sale, it is fine fiber art sale, the clients are looking for art pieces/art to wear.The sale includes lots of wearables and home wares as well. If you can find a fiber related organization that has something like this it may be a good alternative for you. Millinery can be considered a fine fiber art I believe.

Just a thought,

Tracy

When I began, I had NO luck with stores, consignment or wholesale.  They just do Not know how to display or sell hats...damage is huge.  One option: If you want to go the retail store route is to propose a "trunk show" to a popular boutique in your area.  Be sure they advertise the event and you promote it through your customer list.  Then you are fitting your hats on the clients and selling your hats.  I ultimately went the route of higher end boutique, garden and craft show (for 15 years) and did VERY well.  Especially Garden Shows.  I stuck to the indoor shows.  Hard work.  Be sure to build a customer email list and use it to promote yourself wherever you and your hats are!  I went totally internet when I moved to FL 6 years ago and have done Excellent.  I design and maintain my own web site (glad I found the software co 12 years ago) and the only way to go! Spread the beauty of hats!   Kathi   http://www.Hat-a-Tude.com

Hi Kathi,

I read your first sentence and was so 'inspired', it led me to  read http://www.Hat-a-Tude.com! I love your 'about me' page. I also spent years with a blank page! I'd fall asleep while writing it so I was sure no one would read it. I work out of Chicago, but I spend alot of time near St. Petersburg - N.Redington Beach. My hats are more 'sporty' than dressy, so I've been going to a few Country clubs while down there. We shall see. I love hats and love making hats and the thought of coming home and continuing with other accessories was so depressing. So I know, I've just got to get back out there. (In between a million family things). I'm also to the point, if I don't sell a bunch soon, I wont allow myself to invest much more money. So that is a huge incentive. (I've my eye on a block or two!). Plus, to go in with a wholesale price, hurts, knowing how much love and time went into each hat. But I dangle the picture of a new block , and I'm quickly over that. So thanks for your comment and advice. Back to the drawing board of Sales!

Kathleen

Hi Kathleen,

  I would not send a hat sample, as you may never see it again!! My Etsy store is not performing as it used to for many reasons. Most of it due to Etsy's refusal to recatorgorize hats into subcategories.  My plan of attack is to send a mailing of my postcard, with multi views of my hats (Vistaprint.com is fabulous, inexpensive, fast delivery!!).  So, I'll warm up prospective shops that NEED my hats, and follow up with a phone call, and see if there is any interest.  Or, I may just walk in with a few hatboxes in my car. Offer no minimum order, (NO consignment--I'm with you), an ddefinitely will offer a trunk show!!  Just in time for the holidays!!.  Time to make myself much more visible.  I'd much rather hire a hat rep, but finding one is difficult, and then who do you trust with your precious hats??? I may look into a pop up shop for the holidays too. 

If you want it done right--do it yourself!!  If I could get a half dozen shops to carry my hats on a regular basis, I'd consider that a major step in progress!!

Hi Elsie,

I love your postcard idea. My marketing ideas are usually so elaborate, they usually don't manifest. And when I plan on making sales calls, they too are very elaborate, I'm exhausted by the end. I think I should make up a sign with a saying I sometimes tell my kids : "KISS' - keep it simple stupid! That should be my new fiscal yearl resolution. I agree with you - no reps. That may be the only simple sales step I've taken!

Thanks so much

Kathleen

Hi Kathleen, If you join Vistaprint, please tell them I recommended you!!  I think there is a discount they give on my next order!!! Hope you'll use them!! They do great work, super affordable, and there are many templates and fonts/colors to choose from for your hats.  Then, research hat shops, and/or high end women's boutiques that you would like to see your hats in.  If they are close by, drop in after you do your mailing.  But a phone call (and ask for the owner's name!!) is always a good idea, as it is a waste fo time if you walk in and the owner or buyer isn't there!!  Be very casual about it, and say you'll be in their area, and would like to show them some samples.  If they are not open to buy on the spot, offer a trunk show at 50/50!! You get your wholesale price and they make their side fo the profit!! Just be sure to price your hats so that you get what you need!!  High end shops b/c they need to double your wholesale price.  Ask how they will advertise the trunk show, and how many they expect to attend!!  Be sure to show a range of styles, and price points.  Fascinators are so popular right now!! This is advice from a veteran pro!! I have yet to do one, but will this fall!!  Good luck!!

Hi Kathleen, I live in the UK and started by looking at all this seasons colours, styles etc and making a couple of 'sample' hats to match the shops collections. I went to the more upmarket boutique shops (small independents) with established customers and left these hats stating I could make any colour, style their customers required. 3-4 of my local shoe/dress shops loved this as it complimented their sales for weddings, races etc and did not compete with their stock. These shops were not ones that had their own range of hats/fascinators so were happy to show mine. I eventually built up a good client base and now have my own shop and these original customers are still coming back & telling all their friends too. Good luck Kathleen it takes a while to get established but don't give up!

Have you thought of going to a trade show in the fashion or accessories industries? They can be pricey to attend, but your audience will be buyers from stores located all over the country. 

I participate in craft fairs. This will be my busiest year yet. I make contacts, give out tons of business cards and get a chance to sell myself. And always wear a hat no matter where you go!!!!!!

How about giving shops with high foot traffic a couple hats for their display window provided you are allowed to place a conspicuous sign in their window promoting your custom-made hat business.  The shop allows you to hold client consultations in their store.  The hats in the display window are chiefly for marketing purposes, but if pressed by an eager customer, the shop can sell them at a price agreed to by you and them in advance.  

Just re-reading this thread.  Lots of good advice here. I have been asked to put my hats in a boutique by Dec. 7, and need to make sure I have my ducks in a row.  I'll be honest consignment makes me nervous, but it may also  be an opportunity to get my product seen. Has anyone ever been charged a monthly fee to place your items in a boutique?  If so what is fair?  This boutique is asking for 30% plus tax and cc charge.  Monthly fee is waived for December, but will begin in January.  Has anyone ever made "sample" hats and then just taken orders based on the samples offered?

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