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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I have nothing to add that hasn't been mentioned already.  But one thing to note about the last time and the current opportunity (and apologies if it was mentioned and I missed it!) -- last time you said you made gowns.  That's a much different product than hats. And in general, I'd imagine gowns are a much higher price point than hats.  So with the different product line you might do quite nicely.

I'm sorry to hear that you were so affected by an earthquake.  I'm in NYC and have many friends who lost homes, etc. in a hurricane almost a couple years back.  It takes a lot to regroup and restart, and I can imagine that the cost seems like a fortune.  But it certainly sounds like a great opportunity and with the different product, I'll bet you come away with a better experience.

Keep us posted!

Take the risk - as the outlay is small, but the show promises a good footfall.  Do you still have gowns you used to create?  i would combine that with the millinery and just launch a complete brand.   Just have faith - as that is what self employment is... All the best, and don't concentrate so much on sales but contacts, customers, interest and emails!

Thank you all for the feedback and advice. It's greatly appreciated.
In all my years in the rag trade, I never ever received as much support from fellow industry members, as I have with the move to millinery. That, more than anything has confirmed I am going in the right direction. I love that the mutual feel is to celebrate the art and keep alive the traditional techniques, rather than look for the quickest, cheapest way to mass produce.
Again, thank you for all the feed back and support. X
Any time. Both my parents worked in the clothing industry in Christchurch. With the rebuilding of the city coming along at a rapid pace, I'm sure there will be plenty of room for your hats! I used to love looking in The Hat Shop. Good luck with it all Roz!!

Hello Roz,

Please let us know how it turns out.  Get some of your outgoing friends to attend wearing YOUR hats and do face to face selling for you.  Not just handing out your cards, but taking peoples' contact info so that "the designer" can contact them to discuss special designs.

Best of luck,


Well, I've been in a blocking frenzy recently- oh my, SO much fun! The coffee machine worked a treat, steam with the steam wand, dry on the cup rack on top! Took over the kitchen for a day.
After blocking a piece of buckram, I quickly understood why so many milliners wear aprons... Sticky icky.
another question for you; how many pieces do you work on at once?
I'm finding now that I've got all of these great bases, I look at the vast selection of potential trim options, and my mind goes blank.

Photos to come soon.

Well done just 2 pieces at a time , one after the other - Rome was not built in a day.  all the best

I'm working on two pillbox hats, blocked the buckram yesterday, and yes, icky fingers, but I love the end result with buckram! I usually work on two pieces at a time. Sometimes I block a few cocktail bases in the same day. Depends, as the hands can ache a bit if I overdo it. Glad to hear you're having fun, that's the spirit!
So, we're three days out now from the parade. I'm surrounded by boxes of feathers, wire, threads.. You all know the image. Some may think chaos. I like to think, more 'creative comfort'.
Yesterday was try-on day with models, what a whirlwind that was. Fifteen teenagers over three hours. A couple of dear friends with a good eye were there to help and give opinion (and keep order), which I found invaluable. Oh it was fun, a blur, but fun!
The model who is going out first is completely gorgeous, it's very tempting to make a specific piece just for her, with a touch of drama, and a sprinkling of glam.
The finishing bits now, combs, elastics etc - all the vital bits that can't be seen, but essential to have.
Sleep, Pah! Sleep-schmeep!
Good,luck! I hope you share some pics with us!

Best of luck!

This time last week, I was sitting in a very surreal environment.  The fashion show.  

It was amazing.  Stitching up until the last minute  - out of practice with timing.   Models arriving with only seconds to get hats in place.. then down they went, out into the world.   So pleased I did it.  Now the hard work starts, selling them!

I've put photos of the pieces in an album - link below.  I'll add a couple from the night too.  Thanks all for the support and ideas.  



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