Thats been my problem, Carla! How the heck do you find the right place to market yourself? I do pretty well at trunk shows and local vending shows, but online I'm having a hard time...
i was thinking of doing a stall at a few bridal shows, but all the big ones charge $1000 + for a 3x3 site!! i dont know about anyone else but thats a bit expensive for me...
but i have a page on Facebook and i have quite a bit of interest from that.
Some thoughts to consider- Go to the Bridal Show as a visitor.
Walk around once and decide which company/s is worthy of your product then with your business card handy, introduce yourself and tell them ( the person who looks like the owner) in 60seconds what you have that would help them. eg Vintage style Cocktail hats /beaded work/tooled flowers for dresses and hair accessories for Brides/ mum of brides/and maids. Practice what you will say beforehand.
Have in your bag a small photo album or use your iphone to show pics of your work. Make sure you pick up their business card- very important for follow up. If they are interested & asking questions say "I realize you are very busy here today, I would like to make an appointment to call on you next week as my product would add to your customers satisfaction. Would either Tuesday or Thursday suit ?" Always offer 2 days as choice as they are then thinking which day can I see her work rather than thinking do I want to see it or not.
Seems very direct but they will respect you as you are displaying confidence and passion for what you do. Dress for the part & look your best. I have picked up business this way over the years.
Hope others can share ideas on networking in this situation or other ways to approach the retailer.
A website, even facebook, is a good landing page for potential clients to start to familiarise themselves with you, your style and your work. You might not get immediate click through to a purchase, but they've just seen your virtual showcase and this is the most important thing with an online environment; your viewer needs as much detail as possible to entice....
Definitely Megan and the details of your site must be on the Business card.
I think social media is so important. Try to use everything facebook, twitter, pinterest, have a good website, blog and try online marketplaces like etsy. You never know where someone will see your work and contact you for an order.
Trade/craft fairs are great but expensive and make sure you do your research to make sure it's the right fair for you, that your target market will be there, that it is advertised properly, run properly etc.
So true Aoife. I would never have had the privilege of meeting you except for social media. For new Milliners they have such an amazing opportunity to kick start their business with the power of the internet.
It beats walking the streets as I did in 1990 in Brisbane and Gold Coast with 6 hat cases of hats. After knocking at 12 doors I received one Yes !!! Bought 3 hats and said if they sell in a week we will contact you - sold in 3 days and so the journey with this Company has lasted for 22 years. Lucky ? no! I had to take steps to make it happen and the same with Hat academy I must stretch myself to make it happen.
Forgot to add when I posted above. With search engines, one of the keys to SEO (search engine optimisation) is to have as many 'cross references' to your website as possible. For example, your URL is linked on your face book business page, your twitter page, your blog, etc, this increases the exposure of your URL and somehow search engines recognise this.
Sorry for my vague terms, long day at work. (one of the hats I wear is marketing).
Cold calling always worked for me in the 90's here in ireland. Like yourself Elaine,I would have been seen walking around with my huge hat boxes!!! But it worked.... at one point I had 10 shops around ireland selling my hats.... and not on sale or return basis!!!!The S/R concept I think is wrong , as the risk lies totally with the designer who has usually no big room for movement financially and needs the cash
As well as this , the shop has no incentive to sell your products as they don't lose anything by having them there sittiing ,looking pretty on a top shelf .
My advice would be. -
-Ok , the shop likes your wares ,but doesn't want to commit just yet... suggest this; you will leave a range in their shop for the first round on a Commission basis, there after, should it all be going well and your creations are flying out the doors, the boutique should buy your hats and pay on delivery....
Naturally, when you leave the hats in on commision basis, you get a bigger cut of the cake when it sells , -the risk is on you!
The other way is better ( wholesale) as you know the money will come in once you have delivered your goods!
Yes, that may very well be how a hat wearer is born these days (buying their first hats off the shelf for next to nothing). Most ladies are curious about them as children and teens, but modeling is important. Eventually, they will want a custom hat, made to suit their particular style. I think wearing your own hats wherever you go is the best way to attract attention to custom hats. Hat lovers will find you! Ladies in America need to fall in love with hats again. I'm doing my part! :)
I've seen many milliners discouraged because retail stores are selling hats for so little. We can't even buy the supplies for what they are selling the finished hat for.
I just read a quote by Dinah Makowsky, who owns a hat shop in Memphis, Tennessee. She views what many of us view as a negative as a positive. She said:
"I think it's really good for the millinery world that Target is selling $20 hats because it's building a clientele," said Makowsky. "They're going to grow up and they'll want a handmade hat someday."
I really like her point of view!