Hats haven’t evolved for years? Not true . . .

I once suggested to a textile printer that he should consider diversifying into hats. I explained that I’d just been visiting a rural printer who seemed to be making a killing with hats, embroidering them and applying heat transfers. It seemed a natural companion to T-shirt decorating since the technology is virtually identical. It might require buying a cap press but surely an investment of between $500 and $1,000 is a very small barrier to entry. For an embroiderer it simply means acquiring cap frames.

The printer looked at me in the way you look at people when they’ve just said something so outrageous that you wonder about their sanity: “Do you know how saturated the market is with hats?”

“Yes, but they all look the same,” I said. “Why don’t you look around for an unusual hat design and with some unusual graphics you could perhaps come up with something the market hasn’t seen?”

“Listen, dude. A hat is a hat is a hat. Always has been, always will be. There’s nothing you can do to make a hat different from every other hat. You can’t make money selling hats.”

Well, he was wrong on both counts. A hat is not necessarily just a hat. And you can make money selling hats. An Oregon hat manufacturer, Findlay Hats, has proved it.

According to a piece written by Felix Thea for Shopify, the founder of Findlay Hats, Jimmy Hickey, came up with a modification to the standard hat that made it distinctive and unique. He lost his favourite hat rafting on a river when he was barely a teenager. The next time he went rafting he secured his hat on his head with a modification involving shoe laces. It wasn’t until about nine years later that he used the idea to create the Finlay hat.

An example of a Findlay hat.

The Findlay hat has a decorative lace across the front just below where the imprint or badge would usually go. The lace can be untied to fit under the chin to secure the hat when you don’t want it coming off and getting lost. There’s also a hidden pocket to hold cash and cards.

So, even something as basic as a hat can be made exciting and capture the imagination of the market. The Findlay hat certainly did — just one Reddit post that went viral boosted sales by $28,000.

Next post will be about how Findlay Hats uses the internet and social media platforms to drive its success.

Contact info: Findlay Hats