Hello Lovely Millinery people.
I'm in a bit of a pickle and would greatly appreciate some advice/opinion, as to what you would do.

The opportunity has arisen to present a range of millinery in a Summer Fashion show in October. This would be my first proper, public launch, or I should say, 're-launch', into business again after an extended break of nearly four years. (Due to major earthquake in 2011).
Ten years ago I participated in the same show, but with a range of gowns. It cost me approx $2k. Zero work or sales came from it.
This time around, there is a participation fee of $300. My outlay above this should be $200 max, as I have plenty of materials to cover the 20 pieces required.
My business pretty much closed down once the quake hit, so no income. Finances are still tight as we re establish our family back in our rebuilt home.

There are 20 designers & retailers taking part. The show audience is roughly 500 people. Timing is six weeks before our big Cup Day. (The biggest week of the year)
I know the dollar outlay sounds pretty small, just right now it feels huge, but, do I take the risk to invest and potentially repeat zero sales, or take the risk and see what happens?
See, a pickle.

Tags: Parade

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You're in Christchurch? I hear from family that the city is positively booming now. I would definitely take the chance if it were me...

Definitely take the chance. Your soul is calling out for you to do so. Your work is quite beautiful, and with such positive response to it, your investment will be well rewarded. Just believe in your talent; the rest will follow.

I so understand, as I'm about to take the same risk without a promise!! I just jumped in. A local merchant who has a spa asked me to put some of my fascinators on display in his store.  He came to me after he saw my work in a local Big Art show! How much reinforcement is that! He is also a consultant to brides....so I'm making a couple of bridal sample for him. Now have to scramble for top notch materials....I'm thinking great thoughts. Best wishes.

I do not know your area but it seems in your part of the world millinery is having a resurgence.  Plus it is hard to measure any business that might come your way from word of mouth.  I think I would give it a try if it were me.  Hope all works out for you.

Roz this might be just what you need to get your brand out there again.

Why not have a small fascinator as a giveaway for lucky draw at the end of day. You will then have a great list for a new data base to connect with these fashion conscious people who may be you new customers. It will draw people to your stand allow you to chat about your work. I will scan in a Win form I have used if you would like it. 

$300 for a stand is cheap. Expect to sell 1 large piece or 2 small pieces and you have paid for stand. It is a risk factor but I am sure you could make it work to kick start your label.   E xx

Many thanks for your replies.

It's actually a fashion show on a catwalk.

I have been spending some time with a business mentor/coach/advisor, person, who has also helped me come to the decision to go with it. 

Thanks Elaine, that's a good idea.  I've got a few different forms tucked away too that would work.

 I guess it's been so long since being able to concentrate on something that isn't house or eq related, I've lost my way and confidence a bit.  It would be silly, if I want to make this work, which I do, to not take this opportunity.  It's the perfect excuse to have something to work towards, and a purpose. 

Thanks very much xxoo

Do you have a FB page? I have,lots of friends in ChCh and could spread the word around for you.

Thanks Carena28.  That would be great.  I have a page on FB, under Willmott-Dalton Design. probably badly needs updating, but lots of photos on there.  cheers

Forgetting word of mouth for a moment, you're spending a lot on only 500 people (a recent two day craft show I looked in to was £150 for the two days, with an estimated footfall of 100,000!!!). Of course if they all go away and tell at least one other person etc etc...but you have had your fingers burnt before by this same show...although as someone else says it was ten years ago and hats are more popular. Is there media coverage of the event? Maybe make sure the organisers put you in touch with the journos too!

For that money, I'd want a bit more. Maybe explain that you spent a lot before and didn't get anything from it. Maybe something like asking if you get to put a business card on each of the seats/in a goodie bag etc. Is there a display or a party afterwards? Will the models walk around the party in the outfits + hats after? If not, can you have 20 friends attend so they can wear the hats afterwards? Can you have an information booth? I think if you explain your dilemma in a nice way then they won't think it rude and can only say no. 

Thanks Claire-Michelle Taverner-Pearson. 

Yes, that's what I thought too, about the value per person.  Yes, there is an after party, so I guess, yes, the models could walk around with hats on, thanks, good idea!!  There are 'goodie bags', to put something in, Elaine's suggestion above about a give away could be just the thing. It's also been suggested to me to have people in the audience wear a piece too.  So there are more ticks on the pro side now.

It's an event aimed at a certain socioeconomic group at $150 a ticket, so potentially the target market.  There will also be potential retailer/stockist possibilities there too. 

My plan is to have a mix of 'safer' pieces, sprinkled in between more memorable catwalk type pieces.  Deep down I know I'm itching to try something a bit mad, a bit silly, and a touch on the outrageous.

Thanks so much for your feedback.

Dear Pickle...I know the feeling...I have been there myself.  However, nothing ventured...nothing gained!  I think there is a part of you that wants to do this Summer Fashion Show in October.

Think long and hard.  If you have ideas and creations spinning around in your head which are great?  You owe it to yourself to go.  There is nothing as much fun as seeing your ideas and efforts come to life....Remember, it is the climb and the challenge that is most of the enjoyment.  Just the fun to be a part of 500 people there to view your creations.  It can be a growing experience and a chance to make many contacts.

The very worst that can happen is you may not re-coop your expenses. However, success is not always measured with sales.

If a loss would truly "break" you financially...Then I would settle for simply attending the show as a spectator (Do wear your prettiest attention getting hat)...enabling you to mix with the millinery crowd and also see where you rank among your competition.

Good luck reaching a decision....I hope I did not confuse you more.

thank you. you've captured it perfectly x

Pickeled?  I would give some thought to  NOT thinking  too conservative  with your creations.  I love to see fun, "screw ball", but FLATTERING hats on folks. Not just hats that are outrageous for the sake of being outrageous.  I would throw in a few "normal" looking hats just to show you ARE normal...but let yourself go on the rest.  Make sure the models look like they are having fun and create hats to be as flattering as possible.  FYI:  I am NOT a milliner.  I am a mannequin head maker www.crunkleton.com

Thanks for the opportunity to voice an opinion. Good Luck on whatever you decide.


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