Starting A Costume Design Business

Today, I thought a bit about what it actually takes to own and operate a successful custom-made dancewear business. Since it always makes sense to start at the very beginning of something and follow it all the way through to the end, I thought I might list some of the most important things to consider if a person wants to be a success at making custom costumes.

Talent And Ability

  • Do you understand color and how to combine colors in a eye-pleasing way? If your socks are always mismatched and you wear plaids with polka dots, you may be impaired in the color department.
  • Can you cut a straight line and draw a round circle? Steady hands that are skilled with precise cutting and tracing are needed to be a successful sewer.
  • Are you able to create objects by envisioning them clearly in your mind before they become a reality?

Personality Traits

  • Costume designers must be well-organized planners who meet costume deadlines and prevent last-minute costume emergencies.
  • Do you like dealing with the public?
  • Do you become nervous at the thought of bits of fabric fluff and odds and ends of materials around you and possibly on the floor? I like to sew myself, and sometimes during a sewing project things can get a little disheveled with pattern pieces here and fabric scraps there.
  • The most important personality trait to have is patience. The most beautiful ballet costumes take days if not weeks of steady work to complete.
  • Empathy and understanding the needs of others will help you relate to clients in a manner that they can appreciate.

Running The Business

  • First, you have to choose a catchy, original name for the business.
  • Second, you have to apply for a business identification number with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • You have to find a location for the business. If you decide to lease space, you will have a monthly rental fee to pay whether you have clients or not. If you decide to create a studio in your own home, you need to make sure the zoning laws of your town allow home based businesses.
  • Lastly, how will you attract clientele to your new business? Advertising costs are one of the biggest budget concerns for new businesses.

This list is just a start to what might be needed to create a design studio. The designer also has to know where to shop for the best quality fabrics, supplies, and trims that are affordable in price so the savings can be applied to the customer.

Running a home-based business may mean having to put up with interruptions during your work day and dealing with distractions that may come up in the home. Clientele will be coming into your home and you will need to make sure that your home is secure and the client is trustworthy.

On the business end, there is much to consider. Arranging how and when a client will pay for a costume that is under construction is a bit of a mystery for me. I imagine that a costume designer will take a down payment to begin the construction of the costume and collect the balance owed when the costume is finished.

Costume designers and people who make things by hand are certainly a special breed of people. We just admire the finished piece of work not realizing that a few days earlier, this costume was nothing more than a bolt of fabric.

As I look over this list of what it takes to become a custom dancewear designer I become overwhelmed. I think it would much easier to have Costume Creations make the costume!


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