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.
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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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