We're going to New York!
Swan&Stone Millinery began four years ago as a collaboration of 6 sheep and two artisans, making hats on our Brandon, Vermont farm. Sam Stone, our farmer and felter, makes our felts using farm-raised wool and other natural fibers. Nora Swan, our designer and milliner works with the unique properties of each felt to create hats and fascinators, using antique hat forms, vintage trims and feathers from the farm and beyond.
Since the beginning, we have been making hats, one by one, and selling mostly at 3-day-long art shows up and down the east coast. Our sales and production capacity have been about equal, and we've been plugging along.
Then we were approached by one of the directors of the Grand Central Holiday Fair...
To do this market, we will need to produce twice the amount of hats for a six-week period than what in the past we've produced for an entire year! In order to prepare, and to bump ourselves up to a new level of business, we took out an economic development loan from our home town. With the loan, we were able to expand our studio space, purchase a FeltLoom for making felt yardage used in some of our hats, and buy much greater quantities of raw materials (including hundreds of pounds of merino wool.)
So we were poised and ready to go when the acceptance letter showed up in our inbox! A show of this size brings a level of exposure we could never expect in Vermont--greater than any marketing plan we could either devise or fund. In fashion, one of the most important keys to success is just being seen. And with over two million people passing through Grand Central Station daily, this is guaranteed. In addition, the level of sales we can expect could allow us to continue growing our business: train and hire staff, launch new lines and products, and, ultimately, acquire a custom millinery retail space.
The only piece missing now is the $16,690 booth fee to participate in the show! Let us explain that number. Yes, it is high, but it is also the way we have grown accustomed to doing business. Throughout the year, we travel to art shows up and down the coast, and in addition to gas and hotel, we often pay booth fees that range from $900 to $1,500 for just two or three days. This show in Grand Central is 39 days straight AND it's in the center of Manhattan. It is very comparable to what we currently pay for other shows.
But the value to our business far exceeds that number. And we hope you join us for this great journey! We've created a rewards structure that invites all of you along with us to New York, by offering pieces unique to this fall season and many debuing at the Grand Central Holiday Fair. We also hope that you will all join us in a great celebration in January, when we host a Cocktail Hat Party at our studio, with music, food, and, above all, hats!
A Little Press
Risks and challenges
This is a very low risk endeavor! Our business has four years of success under our belts and we are looking to achieve a greater level of exposure and broaden our reach from local to global.
We've eliminated most of the risk by preparing ourselves in advance. Now that we will have the FeltLoom in our studio and do not have to rent time elsewhere, our capacity has dramatically grown. We will minimize the risks by communicating with you before shipping any rewards: You can choose color and style, we will show you how to measure your head and eliminate size issues, and we always email photos back and forth to be sure you are receiving exactly what we've agreed on!
- (30 days)