We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kathi Harris, Founder of Hat-a-Tude. Her beautiful custom hats are worn at many of America’s most glamorous events, including the Kentucky Derby.
|Kathi Harris, Founder of Hat-a-Tude
Small Business View: Can you tell us about your business and what you do?
I custom design and trim ladies hats for all occasions, seasons and head sizes. My business is now primarily online through my website Hat-a-Tude.com
I offer personal service by interviewing and helping ladies choose a hat which will not only match their outfit and occasion, but also flatter them and express their individual style.
SBV: How did you get into this business?
KH: My hat destiny has always been customer driven. Unlike many millinery designers, I actually began because women were ASKING me to make hats. I was already wearing hats. Not only as a fashion statement but to cover my overwhelming life of “bad hair days.”
In my search of hats, I encountered two major obstacles. Hats were always too big in head size. I would turn my head and the hat was still pointing in the other direction. Second issue was there are some really, REALLY poorly trimmed (decorated) hats out there. Downright ugly and not fashion friendly.
I soon found I wasn’t alone and I had a market for my passion…hats!
SBV: What is the most enjoyable thing about this business?
KH: Designing! I love the creativity of putting a new hat design together. Each January I go to NYC (Accessories Show and Garment District) to gain inspiration and purchase hats and trims. It is also important I be aware of the Spring fashion trends and color.
My second favorite part of my business is trimming each hat as ordered and bringing all the work together. Client, Hat, Ribbon, Flower or Feather!
SBV: What are some of your greatest challenges?
KH: The greatest challenge was 10 years ago when I began selling online. Fit was a big issue so I sell all my hats by head size in inches (I tell client how measure on website). Part of my interview includes a ladies height (proportion to size of hat/brim) and face shape. Frequently she will also email me a picture of her outfit for assistance in matching colors. Next came shipping challenge! Hats don’t like to be crushed! Mine are all shipped In Hat Box/Bag and then in shipping carton.
SBV: If you could provide any advice to fellow business owners, what would it be?
KH: Pay attention to what your competition is doing. See what is being offered in your industry and find what isn’t. I found custom trimmed and sized hats were not being offered in a moderate price range by anyone online. That is where I have positioned myself.
Personal Service is also becoming a factor in purchasing options. Everyone wants to feel their needs are special. So, I answer the phone and email personally. I care!
You can view and purchase Kathi’s beautiful custom hats at Hat-a-Tude.com