An Interview with Christine A. Moore, Official Milliner for the Breeders’ Cup!
October 13 2017 |
The next time you’re at the Breeders’ Cup and a beautifully tailored hat catches your attention, look closely. If the hat exudes classic elegance, shows clean lines and a hint of couture, chances are it is a Christine A. Moore Millinery creation!
Christine A. Moore, designer and owner of Christine A. Moore Millinery has been creating hats professionally for over twenty years. She is the official milliner for the Breeders’ Cup (and other prestigious racing events) and has been dubbed ‘Milliner to the Triple Crown’ by NBC. She is a favorite among horse racing’s elite.
We had many questions for Christine. We wanted to know everything, from what inspired her to become an entrepreneur, to whether or not she enjoys the races and how partnering with Pivotal Payments has benefited her business.
Here’s an edited version of our conversation with Christine A. Moore.
What inspired you to start a business?
“With anything that you love, you learn fast” ~Christine
My first job was as a theatrical milliner for Barbara Taylor and I learned fast. When Barbara started a family and could no longer travel as much, she recommended me for regional theatre costume-build jobs. I travelled around working on a number of contracts and one evening, while in Alabama, something funny happened. A group of us were working on a show and it was right before opening night. Tired and exhausted someone blurted out to the group, “If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?” Out of a group of about 20, I’m the only one who followed through with what I said, “I’d start my own business in fashion millinery and sell to stores!”
Do you remember the first Christine A. Moore Millinery hat you ever sold?
Yes. It was in a small art town in Skippack, PA and I had brought about 15 fabric hats; they were all priced under $10! I simply wanted to see if I could sell anything. I found an artistic store with handmade items and sold 3 hats for a total of $25. Things were different back in ‘91 but I was extremely proud of that $25 sale!
What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome over the years as an entrepreneur?
I think the number one thing is, knowing when to spend money and when not to. You can struggle as a business by spending too much, but you can struggle just as much by being afraid to spend. Finding the right balance is a challenge but it’s very important.
Knowing who to hire and when it’s right to hire has also been a challenge. I’ve seen other entrepreneurs try to build everything by themselves and that doesn’t work. I was once told that partners are only for dancing, unless you’re married to them. I guess it’s good that my business partner is my husband!
Tell us a bit about the growth of your company.
I started small, creating a collection on the side while still working as a theatrical milliner. It wasn’t until Henry Bendel (An upscale women's specialty store based in New York City) picked up the collection that doors began to open into other places. Then I was introduced to Louisville and the racing crowd, and that’s where it really took off. I was able to combine my theatre background, costume history and skill level with the fashion world.
What does it mean to be the official milliner for the Breeders’ Cup?
I am the trend setter for the races; I set the bar. Fashion is a big part of the Breeders’ Cup; everyone wants to look and feel elegant. We try to build a lifestyle around racing, more so to keep the women entertained and involved. It’s a wonderful partnership!
Do you take into consideration the history and customs around certain races when designing for them?
Fashion repeats itself. It’s all about studying nature to know how things flow and then using my training as a costume designer to create something beautiful.
Are you a big fan of the races?
I’m a big supporter of the races but seldom have a chance to watch them. My good friend Angie (wife of renowned jockey, Gary Stevens) usually lets me know who to root for. It’s taken some time, but I no longer feel guilty for not knowing too much about the horses or the jockeys. My job is to entertain between the races and to help build the brand. It’s important to keep everyone involved and happy, especially the ladies!
The way we pay for things has changed over the years. Tell us about your relationship with Pivotal Payments and how that has helped your business.
Cash flow is very important for our business and accepting debit and credit card payments has allowed us to turn product more quickly and increase sales. We didn’t want to go the ‘factoring’ route.
Our previous provider felt distant and disconnected, and when the Breeders’ Cup recommended Pivotal, we switched immediately. It’s been 3 years now, and Pivotal has been extremely helpful, trustworthy and always available when we need to speak to someone. The online portal (Pivotal360) gives us all the transaction details we need in a snapshot. Our relationship manager, Kirk is amazing too, and a pleasure to work with.
What about eCommerce, is that part of your sales strategy?
We mainly sell to shops, but we’re slowly getting pulled into retail. That being said, Amazon has transformed the market, and customers expect to buy online and receive their order in 2 days. We’re working on it!
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, what would it be?
Be patient. Be patient in your growth. It’s okay to grow slowly. Be solid on every step and do not despair. Most importantly, enjoy every step of your journey!
Visit Christine A. Moore Millinery online at www.camhats.com