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When Abby Misbin got a purchase request on Etsy for her unique cowboy hat from someone who said they were Beyoncé’s stylist, she thought it might be a joke. Despite her doubts, in June 2022, Misbin sent the custom Stetson with over 5,000 mirrored discs, hoping it was a real order. However, she didn’t hear back.
After eight months, Beyoncé revealed her Renaissance World Tour through Instagram. The promotional image features the “Break My Soul” singer riding Reneigh, her disco horse, while dressed in a stunning diamanté leotard and adorned with flashy jewelry and Misbin’s hat. Within three hours of Misbin’s request for her friends to tag her business account, TrendingByAbby, in the comments, she received a flood of orders.
Misbin, speaking from Pennsylvania six weeks after the tour’s last show in Kansas City, remembers, “I thought Beyoncé didn’t want to wear the hat!” She had pictured Beyoncé saying, “I won’t wear this.” However, Beyoncé actually did like the hat, as did millions of fans who wanted to imitate her style. In response, Misbin’s sales increased from around two hats a week to 30. During the peak of the tour, she would work 12 to 15 hours a day just to keep up with demand. Every night, she would find small pieces of glass in her hands after attaching thousands of individual mirror discs to dozens of hats.
Misbin is among numerous vendors on Etsy who have made significant profits by creating unofficial merchandise for the Renaissance performances. During the six-month tour, these small business owners were at the mercy of the singer’s schedule, with their daily routines revolving around the tour’s silver color scheme, inspired by Beyoncé’s disco-themed album. However, it has now been six weeks since the concerts concluded and Beyoncé departed on Reneigh. The silver craze has subsided, leaving Misbin and others in her industry questioning their next steps.
Erin Fritts, the proprietor of Everwind Creations in North Carolina, gained popularity for her holographic hand-fans that were a hit among concert-goers. She recalls feeling at the mercy of Beyoncé during the tour, as the singer had specific requests for her fans. Fritts, along with Misbin and other Etsy sellers, had to be clever in meeting these requests. For instance, in September, Beyoncé asked her followers to dress like “sparkling disco balls”, prompting Fritts to get to work on her designs.
Initially, she conducted a study on the most popular keywords searched on Etsy, which included “Renaissance,” “silver,” and “hand-fan.” This was logical, as it was the height of summer and with a large crowd of enthusiastic fans, perspiration was inevitable. Fritts also observed that the focal prop used by Beyoncé in her “Heated” tour performance was a grand hand-fan. It seemed like everything was coming together perfectly.
During the tour, Fritts noticed a significant increase in orders from her fans, going from two a day to more than 30. Priced at £26 each, the fans were generating over £800 in daily sales. Fritts recalls that her Etsy sales suddenly skyrocketed during this time. As a result, she shifted her focus from her day job in digital marketing to working on her Etsy shop full-time. She often worked long hours and even received assistance from her mother. She jokingly mentions being at the mercy of Beyoncé and having to keep up with her dress codes on the internet, as she never knew what the singer would recommend for her fans to wear next.
On October 1st, when the music ceased, the Etsy sellers were met with an unwelcome certainty. Fritts expressed her concerns about a decrease in demand and hoped for more tour dates. She mourned the end of the tour and missed interacting with the Bey Hive. Her daily orders dropped to three, with five being a good day. She wonders if Beyoncé will incorporate hand-fans into her songs again if she goes on another tour. It remains uncertain.
Anna Ferguson, the proprietor of the OneLoveOneAnna Etsy store located in Atlanta, Georgia, has observed a similar decrease in the purchases of her disco ball earrings following both the Renaissance tour and Taylor Swift’s equally massive Eras tour, which is currently on hiatus. Along with online purchases, Ferguson would frequently linger in hotel lobbies near arenas to sell her handmade jewelry to fans staying there. “In Atlanta, I strolled around the hotel with a bag of my earrings and a sign and within five minutes I had earned hundreds of dollars,” she explains. The following weekend, Ferguson trailed the tour to Nashville, where she earned $2,000 in just 24 hours. “The tours truly transformed my sales. And I have simply ridden on the coattails of this wild world tour the entire way.”
Ferguson is currently adjusting to a world after her tour. She mentions that she is receiving some sales, but not as much as before. She mentions that she will be attending a Taylor Swift fan party this weekend and is waiting for the release of the Renaissance tour movie on December 1st. She hopes that this will lead to an increase in purchases related to Beyoncé, such as her disco ball earrings featuring the singer’s face. She reflects on how during the tour, she was able to help with any accessory emergencies and hopes for a similar situation in the future.
According to Misbin, the conclusion of the tour is bittersweet. She expresses her disappointment in the decline of her business, stating that she no longer has as many opportunities as before. However, she remains grateful for the success she had initially. At its height, she was able to sell 30 hats per week, but now considers selling 10 a week a success. Misbin has also noticed numerous imitations of her hat being sold online at a lower price. She acknowledges her fortune in still being able to work full-time, but is concerned about companies recreating her design with varying levels of quality. She reveals that she had been advised to outsource production to a factory during her busiest times, but refused to compromise on the quality of her product. She explains that it would not feel right to pay someone a low wage to make something that she herself takes pride in creating.
After the conclusion of Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour, Live Nation, the company in charge of ticket sales, reported earnings of over $579 million from 56 concerts and an estimated 2.7 million attendees. While some fans may have opted to purchase silver, disco-inspired outfits from Amazon or fast-fashion retailers, many chose to support independent sellers. One such seller, Misbin, is keeping a close eye on current trends and anticipating the next big thing. As the holiday season approaches and with the release of the Renaissance tour movie, she hopes to see a boost in her sales before the end of the year. Reflecting on her success, Misbin acknowledges that she may have missed out if she had closed her store two years ago. Despite the possibility of slow sales in the future, she remains committed to continuing her business.