February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 43 the most classic forms of decoration for a cap, screen printing, sublimation, and heat printing are also options. However, you have to be careful not to offer too much, but rather what makes the most sense for the consumer's budget and their time frame states Roberts. MARKETING AND MAKING MONEY To market headwear, Roberts says it's more important to realize it's not necessarily marketing tactics that have changed, but the dynamics between decorator, manu- facturer, and end customers. With the advent of the digital revolution, decora- tors and manufacturers now have a much closer line to each other, and that's affected both parties' decisions and approaches. And, because a shop can now reach out di- rectly to a manufacturer through channels like social media and email, those manu- facturers can establish a more detailed two- way discussion with decorators on specifics like fabric type, sourcing information, siz- ing, and other key details their customers ask for. Tapping into the right markets for head- wear can often start with existing cus- tomers. As many decorators may already work with schools and colleges, adding headwear to the product lineup for these accounts can be a lucrative move. Because these customers already order in larger quantities, a shop can easily suggest a cor- responding cap or beanie that pairs with the season and sport. "Within a school, you have many sports teams to work with, and each has its own logo," states Liu. "If you expand that into the local school district, you have a good set of customers that would need hats each season and year." In addition to sports teams, schools yield other groups like booster clubs, debate teams, and drama clubs, amongst others as customization windfalls. Patterson also suggests corporate clients as an option, especially fast food or fast- casual restaurants with a cap and polo shirt uniform. Some field research can benefit decorators looking to tap into this market. Simply by stopping into local establish- ments and taking note of what employees are currently wearing, and finding out if that business is happy with their current line of workwear, he says, can help open another door with decorated hats. Lastly, Roberts recommends decora- tors interested in carving out a spot in the headwear market to pay close attention to the emergence of lifestyle brands. While many of these companies are smaller and on the boutique level, they often have an extremely loyal customer base willing to pay a premium price for limited edition goods. Outside of style and market consider- ations, decorators should note that head- wear remains a profitable option simply because of where it's worn on the body. While T-shirts will most likely always be a popular advertising tool, headwear stands on its own as a strong contender as well. "The good thing about hats is that they are at your eye level," says Liu. "It's usually the first thing other people see." A walking billboard with a much smaller footprint, the market for headwear is sure to continue to be rife with opportunity.

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