Hamilton business mum finds niche in little trucker caps

Emma Whitlock's boys Louie, 5, left, and Arlo, 3, do their bit to eradicate red necks.

Emma Whitlock's boys Louie, 5, left, and Arlo, 3, do their bit to eradicate red necks.

A Hamilton business mum has found success in a fresh take on a classic summer cap.

Emma Whitlock, 41, has launched Little Truckers, a stylish children's cap that's a cross between a trucker and legionnaire hat.

The mother of two boys originally hoped to sell less than a hundred hats through presales on the crowd sourcing website Kickstarter, but demand has trebled expectations. 

The idea came after Whitlock found a lack of options for "savvy" parents seeking to protect their kid's necks from the summer sun.

READ MORE: Forced to stay in school, young businessman Livi Hirawani is Hamilton's candyman

Legionnaire hats - with a flap of neck protecting fabric - are well known to many but they're generally "pretty naff" polyester hats that have passed their used by date, she said.

"I spent a summer literally with a bandanna thing sticking out the back of his trucker hat - and that's where it comes from."

Little Trucker caps followed, complete with patterned fabric and taglined "No Red Necks". She's designed them to fit 18-months to five-years-old, and will sell them for $35.

"It's very much a mum business, you know, just being at home and trying to reinvent yourself a little bit and noticing a gap in the market."

Whitlock spent nine months searching for an overseas manufacturer willing to produce the hats, then launched the crowdfunding effort on Kickstarter in September.

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Offering the first run of hats for $25, just 11 hours into the project Whitlock was 84 per cent funded. 

She hoped to raise $2000 through the sale of 80, but on Friday had received almost $6000 with 18 days to go. If the current interest holds up, she will be producing as many as 500. 

Mother to a young family, Whitlock lacked the spare capital or a willingness to take on debt. Crowd funding presented an opportunity to see if the idea would work.

"For me it was an opportunity to work out if there was a market for it, without putting heaps of money into it."

Interest from retail outlets has been encouraging. So much so, Whitlock has expanded her ambitions.

"You've got to sell a lot of hats to make money, so I would hope to take over a portion of the market worldwide and look at Amazon and Ebay."

 - Stuff


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