Personalization is the hottest trend in fashion these days. Brands like…
Have you ever dreamed of turning your passion for hats into a thriving business? Visualized your unique designs turning heads in crowded streets or becoming the next must-have accessory?
You’re in the right place.
Starting a headwear brand might seem daunting, but with a clear roadmap and the right tools, you can navigate the challenges and make your mark in the fashion world.
From understanding market trends to carving out your unique niche, this guide offers step-by-step insights to help you transform your vision into a successful enterprise.
So, grab your creative hat and get ready to see how you can start your own headwear brand and create a successful business from it.
But before that, let’s look at why you must keep your current job first.
Why You Should Keep Your Day Job
Venturing into the entrepreneurial world is thrilling, but it’s essential to maintain a stable foundation while chasing your dream. Before plunging headlong into your hat business, it’s wise to hold onto your current job for as long as feasible. Here’s why:
- Financial Buffer: The steady income from your day job will serve as a buffer, helping shoulder the initial startup costs and operational expenses of your new hat business. This financial cushion can significantly ease the inherent pressures of launching a new venture.
- Time to Profitability: Remember, patience is vital in business. On average, many small enterprises take about 3 to 4 years to turn a profit. Statistically, nearly half of new businesses face the challenge of closure within their first five years.
- Safety Net: Juggling a day job while nurturing your budding business isn’t without its challenges. But, the dual approach provides a unique advantage: security. Any missteps or miscalculations in your business journey won’t spell disaster, as your regular employment income acts as a safety net. This security allows for bold experimentation and the pursuit of diverse opportunities, knowing you have a fallback.
- Fuel for Growth: With a regular income, you can confidently reinvest into your business, from upgrading equipment to funding marketing campaigns, accelerating your brand’s growth and reach.
In essence, while passion drives the heart of entrepreneurship, prudence ensures its longevity. Maintaining a balance between your stable job and your new venture sets the stage for sustainable success.
How To Start A Headwear Brand in 9 Steps
Now for the exciting bit. Here is how to start a successful headwear brand.
1. Research the Market and Competitors
Begin by pinpointing a niche market, ideally one that has gaps in product offerings or is underserved. This gives your brand a better chance of filling that void and becoming a favorite choice.
Understand where your brand can potentially fit within the broader hat market. What styles resonate with your vision? What designs seem ripe for innovation? Dedicate substantial time—possibly several weeks—to this phase.
So, how do you go about this research?
Visit stores, peruse online platforms, and stay updated with fashion publications to discern prevailing trends. Identify styles that are gaining traction and those that are waning. But remember, while drawing inspiration is essential, your ultimate goal is to offer custom hat designs that distinguish your brand from the myriad of competitors.
Basically, you’ll need to carry out your research in two ways. First is by collecting the data yourself. This covers the techniques we’ve just mentioned above, i.e., visiting online stores and perusing online platforms like hat communities on Reddit.
The other option is to leverage data that already exists out there. So you can look into market research and other similar reports. These will help you see trends that could influence the type of headwear brand you’ll start.
Finally, analyze your competitors. What other headwear brands exist in the markets? What are the top brands within your specific niche of interest? Who seems to be their target audience, and what are they doing right? What marketing channels are they using?
These insights will help you start your own headwear brand on the right foot.
2. Pick a Business Model
The next thing you want to consider is how you’ll deliver the hats to your customers, i.e., your business model. Remember that these models also influence how customers will perceive and interact with your brand. It’ll also affect other critical aspects of your business, like your pricing.
So, let’s explore the three predominant business models at your disposal.
A) Online Business Model
This model operates entirely over the Internet. Customers will access your products via a website or online marketplace (like Amazon or Etsy), place orders, and have items shipped to them.
- Wider Reach: Your potential market isn’t limited by geography.
- Lower Overheads: No need for physical store space or its associated costs.
- Flexible Hours: Run your business at times that suit you, even outside traditional business hours.
- Scalability: It’s easier to expand your business and product range.
- Competition: The online market is saturated, and standing out can be challenging.
- Trust Issues: Building customer trust without physical interaction can be tough, especially initially.
- Shipping & Logistics: These can be complex, especially if selling internationally.
B) Brick and Mortar Business Model:
This traditional model involves selling products from a physical location, whether a storefront, mall, or kiosk.
- Tangible Experience: Customers can touch, feel, and try products, leading to impulse buys.
- Personal Interaction: Face-to-face engagement can foster loyalty and better customer relationships.
- Immediate Sales: No waiting on shipping; customers get instant gratification.
- Higher Costs: Rent, utilities, in-store staff, and physical inventory can be costly.
- Limited Reach: You’re restricted to the foot traffic of your store’s location.
- Fixed Hours: Typically, you’ll operate within standard business hours.
C) Hybrid Business Model:
As the name suggests, this model melds the best of both worlds. You’ll operate a physical store while also selling products online.
- Diversified Reach: Engage local foot traffic and a global online audience.
- Risk Distribution: If one sales channel faces challenges, the other can offset it.
- Brand Visibility: A physical presence can support online marketing efforts and vice versa.
- Complex Management: Balancing both models can be demanding.
- Resource Intensive: Requires investment in both online and offline resources.
- Inventory Challenges: Keeping track of stock levels across both platforms can be tricky.
Research insights from the first step above will be instrumental in helping you pick the right business model for your store. For example, if you notice that most of your target customers prefer buying online, then you may want to forego having a brick-and-mortar store.
And, of course, your budget will come into play when picking a model.
3. Plan Your Store Design
If you intend to sell your hats or caps in a physical store and not just online, your research should extend beyond what is in fashion. Visit similar stores or stalls and pay close attention to the layout and design of the store, particularly how the stock is displayed.
This is a good way to get ideas on how to set up your store, how much space you may need, and how to display the stock best to grab the attention of passersby.
Attractive hat displays highlighting unique features attract attention and increase customers’ interest in your products.
4. Get a License
Your business will require various permits to operate. The specific permits you need will depend on your location and business model. Contact your local business licensing agents (which could be a government agency or chamber of commerce) for information on which business licenses you need.
Registering your business comes with several advantages. For instance, you’ll be certified as a trusted seller, legally protected from copyright infringement of your custom designs, and shielded from tax evasion penalties.
If you can afford it, invest in the services of a good accountant. Their advice will be invaluable, particularly with the launch of the business, and you can always claim the fee back on next year’s tax return.
5. Design Your Branding Style and Logo
Branding isn’t just about being recognized—it’s about creating a deep connection. Your branding style embodies your brand’s emotions, values, and visions. Key elements include carefully chosen colors that evoke specific emotions and typography that conveys your brand’s character.
Consistency in voice and tone across all communication, along with recurring visual motifs, further solidify your brand’s identity.
The logo acts as a concise visual representation of your brand. It should be clear, versatile, and emblematic of your brand’s essence. While its design should be simple for easy recognition, the colors and motifs must align with your branding for consistency.
Given the importance of a logo, investing in professional design services can ensure its quality and effectiveness.
In essence, both your branding style and logo should seamlessly integrate. Together, they craft a narrative that not only identifies but resonates with your target audience.
6. Source Suppliers
It’s necessary to source reliable suppliers, especially if you plan on producing a lot of stock. These include private label manufacturers, screen printing companies, distributors, and e-commerce vendors.
Securing a printing company is vital if you intend to sell hats with your unique designs. You need a company that can translate your dream into a reality by delivering quality products. Acme Hat is the perfect choice for this.
We specialize in creating premium custom hats of all types. Whether it’s a custom snapback, baseball, trucker, or 5-panel hat, we’ve got you covered. We also provide different style options, ranging from cotton twill to cotton mix. Plus, we can get your artwork and logos to stand out through 3D embroidery.
Check out our incredible portfolio of custom hats we’ve helped make a reality.
7. Set Your Prices
Setting the right price for your products is a delicate balance. Price too high, and you might alienate potential customers; price too low, and you risk undervaluing your brand or running at a loss.
Here are pricing strategies to help you get your pricing right.
A) Cost-Based Pricing
Begin by calculating the total cost to produce each hat. This includes:
- Direct Costs: Materials, manufacturing, and labor.
- Indirect Costs: Overheads like rent, utilities, marketing, and salaries.
- Desired Margin: The profit you want to make on each sale.
Formula: Price = Direct Costs + Indirect Costs + Desired Margin
B) Competitor Analysis
Research similar brands and see how they’ve priced their products. This gives you an idea of the market rate and helps identify if there’s room to differentiate based on price.
C) Perceived Value Pricing
Some hats, especially limited editions or designer collaborations, can command higher prices due to their perceived exclusivity or value. Understand your target market and gauge how much they’re willing to pay for a unique or premium product.
D) Dynamic Pricing:
Prices aren’t always static. Consider offering discounts during sales, loyalty programs, or for bulk purchases. However, ensure these strategies don’t compromise your brand’s perceived value.
Pricing isn’t just about covering costs—it reflects your brand’s value, market positioning, and consumer perception. Adopt a well-informed, flexible approach to ensure profitability while maintaining brand integrity.
8. Start Advertising
Once you’re set up and ready to open, begin advertising your store. It could be in the form of advertisements in the local paper, fliers in letter boxes, or social media marketing. Create social media accounts and encourage your friends to share the news.
Top hat brands like New Era use Instagram to showcase their exclusive designs.
Source online communities and groups interested in your products, and share your website. You can also partner with complementary brands and stores and see if you can reach an agreement to market each other’s products on social media platforms.
Influencer marketing is another effective way to access thousands of potential customers immediately.
9. Fulfill Your Orders
Successfully selling your headwear designs is half the battle; ensuring customers receive their orders efficiently is equally vital.
Begin with inventory management to monitor stock levels and organize warehousing for quick dispatch. Next, decide on a fulfillment strategy. Will you manage packaging and shipping yourself, partner with third-party specialists, or adopt a dropshipping model where suppliers handle dispatch?
It’s crucial to collaborate with reliable shipping partners offering timely deliveries. Your packaging should safeguard the product while reflecting your brand’s essence, potentially enhancing the unboxing experience.
Lastly, establish a clear and customer-friendly Returns Policy, acknowledging that, occasionally, returns are unavoidable.
There’s no better time to get into the hat market than today. However, many potential business owners don’t know how to start a hat company and become overwhelmed with the technical aspects of launching a new business venture.
Lucky for you, we broke the process into eight essential steps. First, research your niche market to find gaps your brand can fill. Next, pick a business model, plan your store, design your branding style, and source your suppliers.
You must also secure business permits and set your pricing. Finally, promote your brand both online and offline and fulfill those orders as smoothly as possible.
So, there you have it, the basic steps of starting your headwear brand. Ready to get started? Click the big orange button below and hit us up!