If your passion or fun hobby is creating hats and you have a talent for them, here’s a guide on how to start a hat business.
But before you jump into turning your hat hobby into a fully-fledged millinery business, there are a few things you will want to know first.
This article discusses how to launch the hat business, marketing, and everything else in between.
If you want to take the next step with your hat creations, then you have come to the right place.
This article will tell you how to start a hat business, and hopefully, you will have the information and encouragement you need to take the plunge.
1. Create A Business Plan
Whether you are just looking to sell on Etsy or you are thinking about another big picture, creating a business plan will help you to understand your business better.
Before you write anything in the business plan, thoroughly research the hat market. This is especially important if you have only made hats for friends and family as the public will have different wants and needs.
See what styles are favored by certain demographics, and check out any current trends.
NOTE: This does not mean you have to create hats that are ‘in fashion’ – hat wearers typically prefer a certain style and won’t care if the hat is in style or not.
Your research is done to basically understand the market today. Doing so will also help you learn about the market you are targeting and will save you money in the long run by avoiding creating things that aren’t going to sell.
Even if you think your hats suit a wide audience, you will want to focus on a target demographic in the marketing stage.
If you do not study the market, you might find it difficult to create marketing materials that target your audience. Also your potential customers will struggle to understand who the hats are aimed at if you don’t word things just right.
The business plan will also help you to stick to a budget. This means writing down expected material costs, general overheads, and marketing costs.
Anything that costs money will need to be accounted for in your plan. This way, you will know exactly how much money you are investing into the business upfront.
2. Looking Into Legalities
Selling hats on platforms like eBay or Etsy does not automatically mean you have to register yourself as a business.
However, if you want to take the business to a professional and formal level, then setting up an LLC or S corp might be just what you need. These are:
- LLC – The expenses and income are stated on the personal LLC tax return.
- S Corp – The owner of the business has a salary and also receives profit dividends.
You might also want to have a dedicated room in your house as an office or even lease a small office space.
If you do an in-home office or lease space out of the house, check with your local authority to see if you need any special licenses or permits to operate.
Doing the above means you will likely need a business bank account too.
Knowing how to account for business expenses and taxes is paramount, so do your research first.
3. Design A Brand
You might create beautiful hats, but while they look great, you will also need to design branding.
This branding needs to work across all of your platforms and fit the style of your business.
If you are not creative, then consider hiring someone to do the branding for you.
However, branding does not need to be complicated. There are many online resources available on this topic, as well as experts you can consult with.
Spend time looking at different fonts and designs. Receiving feedback from friends and family will help, though make sure to ask people who will give you honest feedback.
Do not change your branding within a week or two of launching your products. Make sure your brand is just right so you send the right message to your potential customers.
4. Spend Time Marketing
Once you have the branding sorted, the next step is to use it.
Social media is a fantastic tool to get your business out there, however, it is saturated with new business launches. You will need to stand out, so use social media to the fullest extent possible.
This means doing your research on how best to utilize social platforms.
Get personal with your social media – which means you will not be just posting pictures of your hats.
Make the content relatable – perhaps include photos of yourself making the products or share a reel of the hat-making process.
Make the most of stories, and if possible, make sure the content is shareable.
There are other marketing ways, such as creating a blog or a dedicated website. You can use these platforms to share your processes and other stories about your products.
Word-of-mouth is a good marketing tool as well. While you can reach a worldwide audience on social media, you may want to start small and target potential local customers first.
Telling friends and family about your business, who will then tell other people, is a great way to start getting your business out there.
As long as you put the effort in, over time, you will reap the rewards. Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your hat brand won’t be built in a day, either.
5. Think About Where To Sell
Hopefully, by the time you are done figuring out the marketing, you will already be thinking about where to sell your hats.
One easy option is to use an online store such as Etsy. You can learn how to open an Etsy store here.
Just like with social media, you need to find a way to make your hats stand out. This could be with the products themselves, to the photography and branding.
You could also sell via your purpose-built online store like a Shopify shop. If you do this, you must spend time marketing the shop’s presence. You may also have to pay for advertising to get the word out.
This extra time and money can take away from your time making products! So before you open a purpose-built store, consider these factors first.
Using an online store can bring customers to you. Plus, when people trust the platform, they will share their credit card details. This means sales, so build do whatever it takes to build that trust!
If you love to create wonderful hats, consider turning that hobby into a fully-fledged business.
So long as you have done the research, written the business plan, and know where you are going to sell, then you are on track to start your own hat business.
People love to buy hats for themselves or as gifts. If you make a great product with a popular design, you are bound to succeed.
It may take time, but you have what it takes to have a successful business. Embrace your inner milliner and go for it!
Just build a strong foundation from the beginning, and watch your passion grow into a profitable hat business in no time.