In June 2017, I created Millinery Market, a marketplace designed to make beautiful, handcrafted millinery accessible to everyday race goers while providing a platform for milliners to showcase their work to a wider audience.
Today the site boasts over 1,000 hat listings, and thousands of race goers come to the site every month in search for the perfect hat. Many talented milliners have joined the platform and it’s great to see them having success selling to customers from all over Australia and even overseas.
In today’s post, I’m interviewing six milliners about how they market their hats and to share their experience using Millinery Market. You’ll hear from Claire Hahn, Caren Lee Millinery (Caren Stevenson), Crazy Teapot (Brenda Lui), Moore Millinery Designs (Irene Moore), Angie Jackman Millinery and Monroe Millinery (Michelle Johnston).
How much time would you say you spend marketing/selling your hats compared to designing/making your hats?
Our milliners said they spend between 30 to 40% of their time marketing/selling hats compared to designing/making their hats. While all milliners acknowledged the importance of good marketing, many admitted they could be doing a lot more!
Brenda Lui: “I think if I take into account all the time taken to photograph new products, edit, do listings on web platforms and then socials etc it would probably be about 35-40% of my time compared to 60-65% of my time designing and creating hats. I could definitely do more than I currently do but need to get more organized with my time.”
Angie Jackman: “I spend a lot less time on marketing than I should. With the rise of the online marketplace and social media related sales, the need to effectively market your product is crucial. Realistically if a milliner or designer is not spending 30-40% of their time promoting and marketing their products then it is difficult to maintain a viable level of sales.”
Claire Hahn: “The simple answer is far too much time designing and innovating and not nearly enough time marketing! My marketing has always been a very organic approach but certainly something that I can identify needs much work and development over the coming year.”
What marketing channels do you currently use to sell your hats? Are they effective?
All of the milliners interviewed said they use social media the most for marketing their hats.
Irene Moore: “Definitely the most popular one on a day to day basis is Social Media – Instagram & Facebook. This has an excellent exposure to show your followers what you have to offer on daily/weekly basis.”
Claire Hahn: “My business started with Facebook and although it continues to be a strong and effective marketing tool for my business, I do find it increasingly difficult to retain a strong engagement with my page followers. Instagram is now my foremost social media outlet.”
In addition to social media, Brenda Lui said she also uses paid advertising; “In peak seasons I look at doing a few Google Adwords and Facebook ads but I don’t do them frequently as I need to spend extra time to set up good ads as there is so much that needs to go into it to make them work well and get your money’s worth.”
Some milliners reported having success selling consignment or wholesale. Brenda Lui wrote, “I limit selling consignment to just a few select stores that fit well with my brand image and price point, last year I started working with the local Brisbane Sasha Drake stores which was fabulous”.
Other creative ways milliners were marketing their hats were using pop-up shops, runway shows and print media.
Irene Moore: “Pop up shops are a great way to display my Millinery. Pop up shops are excellent even though very seasonal. I have displayed my hats in Pop up Shops around Geelong, Melbourne (Toorak), Flemington (Paris lane) and soon London”.
Caren Stevenson: “I have found doing runway shows has helped to skyrocket my career and gives me free advertising across a wide range of platforms. I plan on doing a lot more runway shows regularly as I love them”.
Brenda Lui: “I also do some targeted print media such as Ladies in Racing Magazine and Brisbane Fashion Month”.
What made you decide to join Millinery Market and give it a go? Did you find it easy to use?
Most milliners decided to join to help increase their reach to more customers.
Angie Jackman: “I have a strong customer base in my local and surrounding regions with both bespoke and hire millinery. Millinery Market is an opportunity to attract customers from different locations that will be attending alternate race days. I find the Millinery Market booking system easy to manage, and time effective. Face to face consultations and fittings consume a large portion of work hours. Freeing up these hours with a streamlined booking process enables me to have more productive working hours in the studio”.