How To Start A Hat Company Online (Business Plan)

Give me a few minutes and I’ll teach you how to start a hat company online.

I’m not kidding either.

In this article, I’m going to teach you exactly how to start a hat company even if you’re a pure beginner. This includes everything from product ideation and manufacturing to marketing and advertising. All you have to do is follow the steps as I detail them.

Best of all, it’s only going to take you a few minutes to read this guide.

So let’s not waste anymore time.

How Much Does It Cost To Manufacture A Hat?

The first rule to learning how to start a hat company online is to figure out your numbers.

The reason? 

Ecommerce is a game of economics. In other words, the success of your online hat company is going to come down to understanding the literal dollars and cents behind every single transaction that goes on, whether it’s with manufacturers, retailers, or your own online store.

The most important of these numbers is how much it costs to manufacture a hat.

You not only need a good enough number that fits your overall startup budget, but you need costs that lead to decent profit margin. Otherwise, you’re going to end up not starting due to lack of capital or end up with a ton of shirts in your garage.

With that said, let’s focus on pure startup costs.

On average, I would try to have $2,500-$10,000 budget to launch a hat company

Why the huge variance?

The biggest factor is going to come down to your manufacturers minimums. Some manufacturers require huge minimums, others let you start with small minimums, and yet others allow for really crazy small minimums as “samples” and then require huge minimums after that.

This estimate covers the general range you should expect in most situations.

How To Find Hat Manufacturers

If this is your first ecommerce business, you might be a little nervous about talking to hat manufacturers. But I promise that it’s a lot easier and less frightening than you think it is.

Here’s how it works…

Go to Google and start typing in things like “hat manufacturers” and “hat private label”. If you have certain types of hats you want to make, then you can add that into the search. Either way, this will give you a ton of potential manufacturers to hire.

From there, you have to pick your favorites.

Go through every manufacturer you find, analyze each website for their capabilities, eliminate the ones that clearly can’t help you, then call up every manufacturer that fits your criteria. This way, you don’t have to call every single one.

Lastly, ask the right questions.

The most important questions to ask the sales rep you’re talking to includes costs, capabilities, lead times, and minimums. These questions will give you the foundational numbers you need to know who you’ll be able to work with them.

The 3-Step Hat Business Plan

Learning how to start a hat company online doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, all you really need is 3 simple steps.

The first step is to always start a hat business with owned media. This is when you sell your hats to media assets you already own. Examples include SEO, email, SMS, and social media. For best results, start building some of these assets for 6 months before your official launch. You don’t need a huge audience. Just one big enough to get the ball rolling.

The second step is earned media. Once you’re consistently selling hats to your owned assets, you want to start looking for other free exposure such as news outlets and influencers. This means you’re going to be sending a ton of free hats to reporters and influencers so they can talk about it. For best results, have a really strong angle behind your hats. If you tell a unique story, you’re much more likely to get covered by other people for free.

The third step is paid media. At this point, you’re consistently making a decent amount of organic sales. This gives you the data and social proof you need to produce high converting ad creative. I suggest starting with Facebook image ads, then upgrade to Facebook video ads later. Use the conversion objection. And finally, promote a strong offer without cutting into your margins too much.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

It’s simple, but not easy.

One Of The Most Successful Hat Companies You’ve Never Heard Of

Ever heard of Brent Black?

It’s a company that sells a wide range of Panama hats. In my opinion, they are the J. Peterman of hats because of how they sell them online. Unlike most other hat brands, all they do is post a few product pictures and then use long-form stories to sell their hats.

This includes their most expensive hat, which they price at $25,000.

You won’t hear much about them, but it doesn’t matter.

They’re an amazing example of how to build a niche hat company that sells at extremely high prices, has great margins, and is ultimately profitable. They’ve broken every possible rule you would normally see in the hat world. Yet, they’ve managed to do so while selling hats with more luxury value than most popular brands you’ve seen celebrities wear.

Of course, you’re not going to get the same results doing what everyone else does.

If you’re interested in selling hats with the same value and prestige as Brent Black, then I would triple down on your manufacturing process and owned/earned media. 

You need to find a high end manufacturer that is based in a country that gives it credibility, like making chocolate in Switzerland would. You also would be better off spending money on building your own Vogue magazine rather than paid ads, but for your hat loving target audience. In addition to that, earned media is critical in the premium hat space.

If you want to take it a step further and copy their exact tactics, then you’ll need to hire an amazing copywriter.

With that said, just by making a rare and exclusive hat that is marketed through content and PR, you would have the foundation you need to build a truly luxurious hat brand. One that might not be known by most people, but would be extremely profitable.