Stephanie Carter interview

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CEO & co-founder of Wallaroo Hat Company, UPF50+ Hats, Boulder, Colorado,. USA
Posted on
February 18, 2023
by
M. James Ward in ,
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Carter Bio

Stephanie Carter is an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist and visionary. In 1999, Carter became one of the early pioneers of sun protection hats in the headwear industry when she launched Wallaroo Hat Company which combines fashion and function by introducing UPF 50+ sun protective hats for women, men, and children.

Wallaroo is a woman-owned, B Corp certified hat brand, supporting women, sun protection, skin cancer prevention and business.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the material of every Wallaroo and Carkella hat with a UPF rating and a 3+ inch brim as an effective UV protectant.

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What was the genesis for Wallaroo?

I started Wallaroo Hat Company in 1999 after a trip to Australia to visit my husband’s parents. While there, I discovered beautiful sun protective hats that I had never seen before in the United States. I fell in love with these hats and subsequently reached out to the designer to see if we could collaborate in some way.

We decided to work together and later that year Wallaroo Hat Company was born in Boulder, Colorado. Wallaroo was a pioneer in the sun protection industry, creating and designing stylish sun protection hats with UPF ratings.

Avery Men's Hat

How does Wallaroo differentiate itself from your competitors?

Wallaroo has focused on providing stylish sun protection since we founded our company. Most of our hats have a UPF 50+ rating which means they block 97.5% of the harmful UV rays.

I founded Wallaroo to provide skin cancer protection to the United States in a way that had not been done before. Wallaroo has been working with skin cancer prevention organizations around the United States to help in our mission of educating and preventing skin cancer.

Being a female owned business is something else that makes Wallaroo Hat Company truly unique. In an industry that is predominantly male dominated, this gives us a unique competitive edge.

Wallaroo is also a Certified B Corp, which is a business certification that balances both purpose and profit. It is our goal to consider how our business decisions impact not only the environment, but also the local community and our employees.

 

What impact did the pandemic have on the company and what are sale projections in '23?

As CEO, I was at the forefront of pushing Wallaroo through the ups and downs of staying open during the pandemic and continuing to provide Wallaroo’s consumer base with quality, sun protection hats. With brick-and-mortar retailers shutting down and, in some cases, closing doors, I pivoted Wallaroo’s sales plan by increasing direct to consumer business via the online store and social media awareness.

With all of this, I was able to keep Wallaroo’s doors open as well as full-time staff employed.

I am happy to say that we have grown our revenue annual for the last 3 years and will have significant sales in 2023.

Women's Aqua Visor

Who is your customer today and what steps are you taking to reach your next generation of customers?

It has always been our goal to create a brand that attracts more people to hats. When we started the brand we focused on the women’s market primarily, but Wallaroo has grown our offerings and we now cater to both the men’s and children’s markets as well. Wallaroo offers a lot of style choices and a significant color palette to ensure we have a hat for every customer for every occasion.

We also offer a large selection of UPF rated hats for maximum sun protection because skin cancer is one of the fastest growing types of cancer. It's also one of the most preventable types of cancer if people take precautions like wearing a hat, sunscreen, and sun protective clothing.

We use a three-prong approach to reach our consumer base whether they are existing customers or new to Wallaroo. This is done through email marketing, social media outreach, and advertising.

 

What's the current split in sales between men's and women's headwear?

Wallaroo currently sells approximately 65% women’s headwear and 30% men’s and 5% unisex and children.

Stephanie Carter interview
Men's Explorer

In rough percentage terms what are the numbers from the following: green grass shops, online and brick and mortar retail outlets?

Wallaroo’s wholesale business, including golf green grass shops, accounts for approximately 60% of our business. This figure includes all brick-and-mortar retail outlets. Our online sales, including Amazon, account for approximately 40% of our annual business.

In recent years the importance of protecting exposure from sunlight is growing rapidly. How is Wallaroo positioning itself in this critical concern?

I introduced the idea of UPF rated hats to the US market in 1999 and set the trend for years to come. The majority of Wallaroo hats provide a UPF 50+ rating which means they block 98% of the sun's harsh UV rays. Over the years, we have partnered with various organizations around the US that provide skin cancer education, research, prevention, and screenings.

We have worked with the Skin Cancer Foundation, the Colorado Melanoma Foundation, and the Melanoma Research Foundation, to name a few. Every year Wallaroo donates 1% of its net proceeds to an organization that dedicates itself to these causes.

Stephanie Carter interview
Women's Scrunchie Sun Hat

Many companies routinely raise the mantra of customer service being a crucial element for success. Define the term and the approach followed at Wallaroo.

Customer service is an integral part of our business. We have a dedicated team here to answer questions and help with orders both on the B2B and B2C side.

Having a live person to speak with provides our customers a feeling of comfort knowing they are being taken care of, rather than “speaking” with a bot that may not be able to help with the issue at hand.

 

What roles does customer feedback have at Wallaroo and how is it encouraged to provide?

We always appreciate hearing from our consumers and take what they have to say to heart. We continually reach out for product reviews and our Customer Service team is on-site to receive feedback via phone and email.

Men's Charleston

Best advice you ever received - what was it and who was it from?

When I first started Wallaroo I was given the advice that if I followed my heart and did what I loved, I would find success. I have always subscribed to this belief, and I have always enjoyed running Wallaroo. I was an attorney for nine years prior to starting Wallaroo and it never felt like the right path to me. Doing something you are passionate about and can make a difference in the world is a wonderful combination.

I see the direct impact of the sales of our hats around the world and have heard from many customers over the years about how our hats have helped them with skin cancer prevention and protection, and I am proud of that.

Growing Wallaroo has been my greatest accomplishment and something I am very grateful for.

 

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For more info go to:

www.wallaroohats.com

Images courtesy of Wallaroo Hat Company

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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