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Your Complete Guide on How to Start a Hat Business


Whether it is beautiful afternoons spent on the beaches or exploring a new city, hats have always been a favorite accessory of people of all ages. Most people prefer having a collection of hats, wearing one based on every outfit, which is why they never go out of style.

This craze for hats has led many brands to introduce exclusive designs and hat styles. Additionally, the demand has helped a lot of people begin their own hat businesses. Whether you are tired of working under someone or want to create another passive income channel, starting your own hat business can be a lucrative option.

With the global headwear market predicted to register a CAGR of 6.53% between 2022 and 2027, there is no better time than now to start your hat-selling adventure. Starting a hat business can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time, so here is a template to make your initial journey easier and more efficient.

Table of Contents
The first step: Research your customers and their hat needs
The second step: Source the perfect hat collections and materials
The third step: Design your hat offerings, hat accessories, and presentation
The fourth step: Advertise your hat business
The fifth step: Launch your hat business

The first step: Research your customers and their hat needs

Research is the first and most crucial step in kickstarting your hat business. You should research the market you are looking to enter and your target customers. This means figuring out what hat styles are trending in the market and what’s not selling well. For instance, if you are trying to sell to youth, you should choose cool and funky styles, such as bucket hats or baseball caps. On the other hand, if you are targeting adult customers, you can present them with more classic options like dad hats or fedora hats.

Find a specific niche despite a wide array of choices

To maximize sales, look for niches in the market. Initially, you might be tempted to offer multiple styles to boost profits. However, covering too many styles at once can quickly become overwhelming. So, focus and try to find a niche where there is a lack of products. For example, if you find out that customers are looking for a specific type of hat but aren’t getting it, this is where your brand may belong in the hat market.

The second step: Source the perfect hat collections and materials

There are two ways to go about sourcing hats for your business.

First, you could partner with a cap manufacturer who will manufacture caps according to your design, materials, functionality, and fabric specifications. You can research different manufacturers in your region or from a different country and ask them about their offerings, turnaround time, minimum order quantities (MOQs), etc. Once you find a suitable manufacturer, reach out to them with your customizations.

Second, you could source basic wholesale hats from B2B suppliers and customize them, which is a lot easier and more efficient than getting hats manufactured from scratch. You can research such suppliers on Alibaba.com and tie up with these vendors to get ready-made hats for your business. Once you have the hats in hand, you can use a product designer tool to create custom designs.

The third step: Design your hat offering, hat accessories, and presentation

The next step is to design your hat offerings. To begin with, come up with the best-selling designs you can print onto your hat. Consider visiting local stores or scrolling Pinterest boards for inspiration. Once you have the designs ready, it is time to print them. There are several techniques you can use for customization. Some of the popular options include:

Screen printing

A technique commonly used to customize t-shirts and sweatshirts, screen printing works equally well for hats. Nevertheless, it can get tricky if you don’t have the right equipment. This is because most screen-printing devices are designed for products that lay flat. So, you will need a device specially made for headwear if you choose to go with this method to customize your hats.


Hats featuring well-designed patches are pretty popular now. You can have the patches custom-made using your own artwork, slogans, or dialogues from famous TV shows and animes. If you choose this technique, remember that you will have to sew the patch onto the hats. Though some patches can be ironed onto the hat, stitching them is a better option to make your hat offerings durable.

The good news is that you don’t require a high-end sewing machine to stitch the patches on, particularly when you are starting out. Instead, you can use a cheap sewing machine or even hand-sew the patches onto the hat.

Heat transfer vinyl

A solid option to customize your hats, heat transfer vinyl involves using a heat press or an iron to apply just about any design to your hats. The rule of thumb is to use something that will support the shape of your hat so enough pressure can be applied to the vinyl without reshaping the hat. Experts recommend using glitter or vinyl HTV when customizing hats through the heat transfer vinyl method, as regular smooth vinyl can result in the seams showing through.

The fourth step: Advertise your hat business

Regardless of whether you will be starting an online or physical hat business, it is always a good idea to advertise in advance. In fact, the earlier you start advertising your business, the better.

Create social media handles for your business, post content regularly, engage with people who are interested in your upcoming business, and run advertising campaigns. By building relationships with individuals at an early stage, there is a high chance that they will convert into customers after you launch your business.

As you will also be working on product designs at this stage, consider sharing your prototypes with your audience and asking for feedback. Outside opinion is always great to address potential issues before selling your hat offerings to customers.

Lastly, consider other forms of advertising beyond online marketing, such as banners, home mailers, or signages. It might also help to partner with brands and stores to market each other’s products. For instance, as a business that sells custom hats, join hands with a brand that offers custom t-shirts. So, if someone who needs a hat goes to the other business, they can refer them to you. It is a win-win.

The last step is to launch your hat business successfully

The fifth step: Launch your hat business

From products to social media accounts, you have everything ready to launch your hat business at this stage. You have invested a lot of your time, effort, and money into your new venture, and now it is time to open your doors to customers and to start making sales. If you have done the advertising part well, you should already have many people eager to try your hat offerings.

So, host an opening event for them to get a first-hand experience of shopping from your hat business. This can be a special promotion online, an event at your physical store, or a combination of both. Your business launch event can also be simple or as grand as you prefer. If you don’t have a huge budget, keep it simple by offering free treats for your in-store customers or a small discount for your online shoppers to encourage the first sales.


While starting a hat business can be challenging initially, it can be a lucrative option, given that you have unique designs in your mind and a will to work hard. In recent years, there has been a significant trend of caps, with custom hats being in great demand, and it is easy to see why — they offer people the ability to customize hats according to their own style and comfort. Source everything you need, follow the steps in this article, take it slow and steady, and you’ll soon be a successful hat business owner.

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