SYMCA - Levelling Up

Barnsley Milliner secures catwalk date after ‘clicking’ with Celebrity style guru

A Darfield milliner has secured a date with one of the biggest names in the fashion industry after he tracked down her exclusive designs on a newly revitalised Facebook page which was developed with help from the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme.

Sherry Richardson launched her business ‘Hats by Sherry’ in February this year after deciding to take the plunge and build a business around her love of the ancient art of millinery. Since launching her business, Sherry has created two new fashion labels,
Sherry R which produces custom made commissions and Sherry baby which offers a range of ready-to-wear hats.

Having worked in the family farming business many years, the 58 year old felt ready to take on a new challenge and decided to build a business around her love of headgear, however, Sherry recognised that one the biggest hurdles she faced involved building a social media presence for her business.

With very little experience about the different channels available to market her new business, Sherry contacted the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme for help.

Working with a dedicated business advisor, Sherry has benefitted from one-to-one advice as well as attending workshops organised by the ERDF funded programme which gave her the confidence to launch her facebook business page.

To her surprise, the eye-catching images struck a chord with one page viewer: Celebrity style guru Gok Wan, who made contact and asked Sherry if she would be interested in seeing her designs come to life as part of his ‘One Size Fits All’ catwalk show, which comes to Sheffield on 3rd November.

Since securing a slot for her designs, Sherry has been busy developing a new collection called “The vitality of the seasons” and comprises of ten different hats which reflect her love of the countryside and the changing colours of the landscape. There will be seven bespoke catwalk pieces along with three ready to wear from the Sherry Baby label which she hopes will attract the attention of retailers attending the exhibition as well as developing plans to sell her new range online.

Sherry Richardson, founder of Hats by Sherry said:

“Since launching the business earlier this year, I knew that it was important to get my marketing right from the outset. I felt social media offered a good opportunity of reaching out to new customers, but having spent some time previously experimenting with channels like Facebook, I lacked confidence with the best direction to take when building a social media presence for my business. I contacted the Launchpad team to see if they could assist me with my work and I was put in touch with my own business advisor who helped me to get grips with the basics of running a social media business page, as well as giving me the chance to take part in more in-depth training programmes.

“The call from Gok Wan’s team came as a complete surprise. They told me they liked what they had seen and asked if I would like to showcase my designs at this exciting event,of course I jumped at the chance.

“Since working with Ben and the team, my business has really started to grow. Their advice has given me the confidence to manage my Facebook company page successfully and this in turn has not only resulted in an amazing opportunity for my business, but I have also seen the numbers of requests for new commissions increase too; everything seems to have happened so quickly!”

Ben Hawley, Business Advisor, SCR Launchpad programme, said:

“Sherry has enjoyed the challenge of making hats for many years, but until recently it was something she had always undertaken in her spare time. After deciding to put her creative skills to good use, she knew it was important to make her business stand out and recognised the value social media could offer.

“I helped Sherry to develop a social media strategy for her business, enabling her to develop content which struck a chord with her followers. At the same time she attended a number of courses, helping her to build her knowledge of social media and use Facebook as a way of engaging with new potential customers. The result of this work meant Sherry was able to devote her time and resources into developing an effective page which has helped to transform her business in ways that I don’t think she could have possibly imagined”

Sherry’s love of millinery began in the mid-1990s after reading about the art of millinery in a newspaper article. Keen to explore her creativity, she decided to sign up to a millinery course in Huddersfield, the only one at the time outside London and put her newly developed skills to good effect. One of her early designs was sold to the Tower of London, whilst some of her other creations found fame on the catwalk on the hit TV show of the time, The Clothes Show. She continued to pursue her interest on a small scale, producing commissioned pieces along with commissions from family and friends in her spare time.

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