Hatrepreneur weathers flood of cheaper imports

25 Apr 2018

Jitesh Mistry, who runs family-owned business Carmi Hatters, speaks about overcoming the influx of cheaper imports from the East, expanding a household name in hat manufacturing and his hopes for the Investec CSI's Young Entrepreneurs trip to Berlin.

Millinery, baseball hats, veld hats and even caps - you name it, Carmi Hatters can make it, and they have 44 years of experience to back it up. The family-owned business produces hundreds of thousands of hats a year for retail, sports teams and even the army.
 
Its story began in the 1970s with four employees. Today Carmi Hatters employs 65 people and in September 2017 they made their fourth move to a 5,000 square metre factory in Aeroton, Johannesburg.
 
“I think it is the passion we have for the business. We love what we do so it keeps us going, it makes us wake up in the morning, gets us here, gets us excited.”
Jitesh Mistry
“The Chinese imports in the early 2000s nearly killed us, but luckily we were already motivated enough back then to set more trends and look for new opportunities.”

Jitesh Mistry, COO, Carmi Hatters

The business has managed to survive tough economic times and an onslaught of cheaper imports from the East. It kept its growth steady by buying up equipment and adopting new styles from factories that closed down.
 
“The Chinese imports in the early 2000s nearly killed us but luckily we were already motivated enough back then to set more trends and look for new opportunities.”
 
The business has now grown, boasting contracts worth millions of rands including their biggest order from the South African Police Service (SAPS) for 100,000 caps.
 

Jitesh’s three tips on becoming a successful entrepreneur:

 

  • Love and enjoy what you do and don’t chase money, money will come to you if you love and enjoy what you do.
  • Be content and enjoy the challenges of the business.
  • Have passion for what you are doing and with that passion the growth will come.

Investec CSI's Young Entrepreneurs Programme

A global programme

Our young entrepreneurs’ platform exposes South African entrepreneurs to global business thinking. This year's trips include Israel, Berlin, Singapore and Helsinki.

Sector focus

Every year Investec, in partnership with En-novate, sends a group of young entrepreneurs from various sectors to specifically selected countries in order to gain global exposure. 

Networking opportunity

Each itinerary provides them with opportunities to network and to engage with venture capitalists, funders and captains of industry.

Inspiration

The aim is for them to return home not only stimulated and inspired, but also with a list of potential partners, funders and markets for their product or service.  

Apply for Investec CSI's Young Entrepreneurs programme

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