Running a business while raising and home-schooling four children isn't always easy, but Deer Park resident Cara Covey says she's still able to do it all by putting every spare moment toward her home-operated online venture.
The owner and sole employee of Funky Baby Hats, Covey says she launched her business about eight months ago, after a family member suggested that she could make a profit by selling the colorful crocheted hats she designs.
Covey's hats are beanie style with earflaps and strings on both sides. A majority of them feature cartoonish animal faces, including owls, monkeys, dogs, cats, bears, ducks, and penguins.
Each hat is crocheted by hand, and Covey says she's doing all the work to make them herself. As a mother of children aged two months to 10 years, she says that so far she's been able to keep up with orders placed through her website, at www.funkybabyhats.com.
"Any time I have, I'll just make the hats," she says, including trips in the car when someone else is driving, or while her children are doing their schoolwork.
Most of the hats Covey says she's designed are geared toward babies and children, but she says she's seen substantial interest from teens and adults, and therefore has expanded her offerings.
Customers now have the option of choosing between a number of age-based sizes: newborn, 6 to 12 months, 12 to 36 months, 3 to 5 years, 6 to 10 years, small adult, and large adult. Most of the hats cost $20. Some of Covey's designs that don't have animal faces, such as what she's calling her "elf hat," are priced at $15 each, as well as are her "petal hats," which are small beanies with a scalloped edge and a crocheted flower sewn onto one side.
All of the hats are made from 100 percent cotton yarn and take between two and three hours to make, depending on the size and amount of detail, she says.
If a customer sees a hat on the website and wants it made in a different color or with a specific animal face, Covey says she's willing to do custom orders for an extra fee.
"I'm always open to having people request certain hats, because that's a way I'll get new ideas," she says. "Those (orders) are your livelihood in a way, because that's how you expand and come up with new things."
Coming up with a new design can be a long process, with several trial-and-error runs when developing the pieces that make up the animal's face.
The most popular designs so far, Covey says, have been the owl hats and a rainbow-colored, sock monkey-inspired hat.
While she says she's sold hats to customers all across the U.S., and as far away as the United Kingdom, Covey says she probably sells more hats from word-of-mouth advertising through friends and family. With more than 20 nieces and nephews, she's made a lot of hats for her relatives and says when other people see her hats being worn around the community, she gets more requests. Also, she has had plenty of return customers.
"I made a hat for my friend's son as a gift and then that same friend came back and bought a bunch more of the hats for other people," she says. "From that one person I expanded one hat to about 12 hats."
While Covey is new to owning her own business, she says she's learned a lot already and credits her older sister, Carissa Bean, who had prior experience operating several businesses, for helping her get Funky Baby Hats up and running.
Covey says her sister first offered to build her a website for the business after she'd sold her complete inventory of animal-face hats at the Southeast Spokane County Community Fair in Rockford, just south of Spokane, last September.
Assistance also has come from some local photographers, who've offered to take photos for the website in exchange for her hats.
Almost all of the site's photos of children modeling the hats are either of her own children or her nephews and nieces, she says.
When she was 8 years old, Covey says her grandmother taught her how to crochet, but she didn't become truly interested in the craft until her first child was born. She says she got back into it then, making baby blankets and hats for her son.
Since then, she says, she tried selling some other handmade items through different venues, such as craft fairs, but didn't have near the success she's seeing now with the hats.
For now, Covey says she'll continue operating all aspects of the business on her own, but she adds that in the future, if the business grows sufficiently, she will look at hiring another person to help make the hats.
So far, Covey says she's invested most of the money from the sale of the hats back into the business, to purchase more materials so she has everything on hand when a new order comes in.
In all, she estimates she's probably sold around 125 hats through the site or to local customers, but says she's made probably twice as many in all since she started, including the hats that she's given away or made for family and friends at no cost.
Right now, the hats are only available for sale through the business's website, but Covey doesn't rule out selling them at local shops and boutiques, and says she'd be interested in doing so if she was offered the opportunity.
"I'm happy where I am with the business right now," she says. "As it goes along, it won't be bad if it grows and I get more and more orders. As my kids get older, I'll have more time to focus on the business."
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