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Mar. 10th, 2010

those times

Short Update

Lot going on. 

The trade show was fun.  Found some cute costume & fashion items and accessories.  Saw some dreadful things they called lolita that were not.  It was kind of gross.  Like - hot topic style punk skirt with off-brand blouse gross and halloween costume that wishes it were wa-loli gross.  To each his own.  Whatever makes them sleep at night and puts money in their wallets, I guess.  I just know it won't be my money (or any of my customers).

Had some family things pop up which have hindered production.  We were supposed to watch kids Friday night and Sunday morning.  Saturday the kids were picked up hours after we were informed they would be the afternoon before.  Sunday the little guy didn't show up at all and we had no way to get ahold of the people he was with to find out why or where he was.   Monday we found out little man has strep and is out of school until Thursday.  Unfortunately some unrelated issues may prevent me from being at Anime Milwaukee this weekend as planned.

Good news, I've got pretty much all day today to get caught up before we give the workshop a fresh coat of paint.

I may or may not have some personal items I end up posting to egl_comm_sales.  A few off-brand blouses, a pair of shoes, and my beloved Usakumya bag.  I really don't want to sell it, but I haven't used it since July (which was only the second time after I bought it) and it's impractical for such a cute looking bag to just hang out in my closet forever. 

On a funnier note: My cosplay shop got posted on egl in the etsy shop listing.  It made me giggle.  I thought about asking them to remove it, simply because even I acknowledge the items posted are more for convention or costume purposes and not proper for lolita (there are only like - 2 little hats - the rest is blatantly nothing loli related).  I made them long before I knew anything about lolita.  I just thought tiny hats were cute at the time :) Oh well.  I'll just make a comment to the post and ask for an update when I get the chance to put some actual lolita items up.  And maybe destroy/recycle/donate the little hats.  Likely recycling, because I'd like to eventually get into making doll clothes.  I had actually spoken to someone who sells off-brand about the possibility of making & selling doll-sized knock-offs of her knock-offs.  It was amusing.  I'll have to get a variety of sizes of dolls, first.

Enough rambling, back work!


Feb. 26th, 2010

yase

Off to the trade show!

I'm very excited about attending TransWorld's HCP Show this weekend.

With exhibitors like Leg Avenue, California, Cinema Secrets, Elope, and Snazaroo there is guaranteed to have a great mix of products on display :)

My goal is to be able to find as many LARP, Cosplay and off-brand Lolita products as possible and incorporate them into the web store throughout the year.


Feb. 16th, 2010

Direction

A lot has gone on since I officially registered as a business in '08.  I've done some conventions (up to three vendor booths in one month), I've opened a merchant processing account (for credit cards), I've graduated from the Fashion program at WIU, I've looked at graduate programs, I've travelled across the country (and a little bit of Asia) and I've grown immensely as both a business owner and an individual.  Priorities have shifted, and that has become more apparent as the days go by.

At one point I had considered opening a store.  I immensely enjoy merchandising and I already have the names and contact information of a dozen vendors which I would utilize.  I could easily wholesale from a few friends I made along the way.  This store could easily open with a wide variety of clothing styles & accessories including: punk, lolita, steampunk, and fantasy/larp.  I'd try to keep it on a more casual side for the ready to wear items and reserve the more "exotic" fashions for special events, special orders and runway shows.  I'd also put in some arcade games in the front (we clearly don't have a DDR machine in town anymore) and a little soda-bar area with snacks and seating (away from the clothing).  I'd probably carry some items to cater to the anime crowd as well, and have tvs with screenings like they used to do at Suncoast (we also are lacking in a specialty music/movie store in town - with the exception of Capital which carries anime/games/music).  Perhaps if we ever end up moving to a larger metropolitan area it will happen, but for the time being I see it as very unlikely.  The city in which I live has merely 30,000 people.  While some people think that it is big enough to support an anime convention (I wish them the best of luck), I feel that the store I envision would not have a large enough target market here.  40 miles in each direction are bigger areas, but they already host stores like FYE and Hot Topic which would crossover with some of our product lines. I think an independent store like this could survive in an area as densely populated as Chicago or St. Louis but I don't foresee me moving to somewhere like that in the near future.  A friend of mine who owns a gaming store in Springfield, IL hinted to me that I should take up the space adjacent to him in his building but I do not see myself returning there.

Historically I had intended to make everything for my shop.  This summer I've learned the beauty of retailing as a business owner.  Ideally I would like to do both.  At the very least I would like to design textiles and and create mock-ups and then have them created elsewhere.  That is far into the future.  And what shall I make?  As the name suggests, I started out with cosplay/convention related items and accessories.  It seems that since I've gotten into the game, though - everyone is doing it.  Fleece hats/paws/tails/scarves, cat ears, wing clips, miniature top hats, buttons.  It's hard to stand out in the sea of monotony.  It's rare to go to an anime show and to not see someone else selling something similar - and so inexpensively!  I've stopped making some of my original products due to this - there's just no point in showering the masses with the same thing.  I commend companies like Cosworx and Angelic Star for the popularity of their mass-produced cosplay accessories.   

My current goals for the future involve full fashion lines.  I'd like to phase out the hand-made cosplay items (including commissiions) within the next two years (there are too many legal issues surrounding cosplay to begin with, and I'd prefer to stay out of it).  There are pleanty of other costumers and artisans out there who will be more than happy to step up when the time comes and there are pleanty of licensed products I could carry in my booths and on-line.  I want to perfect my draping and grading abilities to be able to develop at least a S-XL line of patterns for my designs (with additional or custom sizing available on request) and be more involved in fashion shows and other promotions activities.  To begin with, I'd like to incorporate a women's line of lolita and a women's line of steampunk fashions as well as pair them with commercially made shoes and accessories (some accessories will be my own as well, but I can't do everything!).  Unfortunately, launching a line will require more capital than I have at the moment so that's a goal which will have to wait for the time being :) 


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Feb. 15th, 2010

kiss

Recent Updates

Etsy: Photographing more items for the etsy account tomorrow.

Conventions: I'm still waiting to hear back from Anime Milwaukee.  It's less than a month before the convention and I still have yet to receive confirmation that they've received my payment.

Costuming: I've decided to take on some custom commissions to earn some extra capital to work on my lines.

Fashion: Concept sketches are about 2/3 done for the fall/winter lolita line I have been working on.  Unfortunately, the venue that I picked out (St. Louis Fashion Week) has decided to cut back from a semi-annual event to an annual event, which means the next show will likely take place in the fall and feature spring/summer lines.  It'll take some adjusting, but it's doable.  Silhouettes can be similar, but my planned fabrics/prints/counts/notions will need updated (so, you know, most of it).  I suppose this gives me this much more time to work.  CagedCanary also believes that I should venture further into steampunk.  I'm a fan of steampunk fashion, but I need to find a way to get past the blandness of all-neutrals.  Don't get me wrong - I love neutrals, I'd just rather design in color I guess!  Aside from traditional venues, I should also look into fashion shows at local & regional conventions for late 2010 and 2011.  But it's late, and that's work for another day, I suppose.

2/15 - Update: I e-mailed Anime Milwaukee yesterday and received an e-mail back from them late last night, confirming my space at their show.
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Feb. 10th, 2010

Back from E'VilleCon

Friday
So the weekend started with: LONG CAR RIDE IN BLIZZARD.  Okay, so it snowed all day...I guess it wasn't *really* a blizzard.  The roads weren't slick and visibility was still fine...although people still drove like grandmas!  Grabbed some gas and picked up ShirtNinjaSkillz from his house around 11 and headed to the post office and JoAnn Fabrics.  Picked up another 10 yards of fleece (on sale!) for scarves and hit a drive-thru on the way out of town (Note to self: no more Long John Silvers, stick to TacoBell).  Drove straight through, no stops.  Hit the hotel around 5:30 and got checked in and immediately unpacked.  Hooked up the PS2 and Ninja started his anime watching spree with Ah! My Goddess: The Movie whilst I finished unpacking and began cutting.  My house is a bit of a disarray at the moment since we've been scraping/painting/ripping carpet/moving rooms etc. so I haven't had any large, clean space to do any sewing lately (boo!).  This was going to be a small show though, so it didn't really matter.  Got the scarves & sets of paw prints cut out with very few scraps (go me!) and got to work on trying to sew.  We eventually decided we were hungry (around like, 10pm) so we ordered a Chicken Alfredo Pizza and breadsticks from a local establishment from Muncheez Pizza.  Ninja put in Chobits and got to watching some more!  My sewing machine had been making a funny noise all night and eventually around 11 I decided something was wrong...it kept skipping stitches!  Trusty google informed me that my needle was bent and of course...the kit I brought with me didn't have any extra machine needles! (Luckily, I'd spotted a JoAnn on the way to the hotel).  I decided to do as much prep-work as I could and clean-up and call it a night.  Well, about an hour and twenty minutes after the pizza hadn't arrived I called them to inquire.  The lady on the phone said it was out of the oven and would go out with the next drive that got back, but they were super swamped and had "lost" a few drives (Misplaced? Died? Quit?).  I go back to pinning paws prints to scarves and packing up so I'd be ready to go in the morning.  After clean-up we then were visited by the pizza delivery man!  Free pizza, hand delivered by the owner, score :)!  After pizza, Ninja continued with Chobits & I grabbed a shower and decided to relax a bit.  Now, Ninja is an old man and 2 am was about 7 hours past his bedtime so....he was falling asleep, which made me heckle him more.  (Note: Ninja really isn't old - only a few months older than me, but apparently he goes to bed at 7 or 8 these days...whereas I've been accustomed to 3ams as of late!)

Saturday
I woke up around 8-ish and straightened my hair and we were still able to hit the tail end of the "free breakfast".  I can see why it was free!  They pickings were slim...not enough milk for 2 people to have cereal, their cream cheese was "crumbly" (and not very good!) and they had oat meal pies and honey buns as part of their continental breakfast?  Not even fruit...I was pretty disappointed.  I snatched some oatmeal cream pies for later at the convention and ended up with some orange juice (in a double shot dixie cup), coffee (which tasted terrible, btw), and a bagel with cream cheese.  How I missed my folgers and coffeemate back home!  I'm a coffee drinker these days...and I poured every last bit of my cup out after one taste.  I threw together a handful of hair accessories really quick and we headed out.  I called one of my convention contacts and learned that my sewing machine was about 20' from an outlet so we decided to hit up somewhere for an extension cord after getting needles.  First stop was Subway for some $5 Footlongs, then off to the fabric store.  I wish we had a JoAnn Superstore, they're so...beautiful ;_; ...got some universals from the Viking Rep and then hit up Deals (best dollar store EVER) which was in the same strip mall for some extension cords and Pepsi.  I dropped Ninja off at the corner with my stuff and then parked.  He helped me carry it around the building (3rd door's a charm!) and up the escalators.  There was a very nice volunteer girl who offered to bring our badges to our table so we went ahead and I started setting up right away.  She came back with our badges and then ran to get us lanyards, and offered to send someone back later if we needed a break!  I busted out the sewing machine and got to work.  I had 7 or so already done/left over from last year and then I set out the unsewn/partially sewn ones so people could still request them or change colors as they saw fit before they were done.  Socialized a little bit, put out some fliers and sewed.  Sewing was intermissioned by lunch, fluxx, chatting up the local policeman, and Ninja and I discussing the best cosplay idea ever which will henceforce be known as "Codename: Project B."  I also told him that I'm old because this is my 10th year of going to conventions and he said "but I'm older than you" and I told him it didn't matter because this was his first anime con.  We were able to see part of the costume contest through the open main events doors, which was nice...until they later closed them for other events.  I was kinda sad about this until the time came for the dance as every time the door opened I'd cringe from the sudden increase in volume.  I finished sewing and re-prioritized my packing so that there would be fewer items to bring back to the hotel/back tomorrow.  We headed out probably about 10, most definately the last AA table standing and went back to the hotel.  Ninja enjoyed more Chobits and we ate our cold, leftover pizza. I finished cleaning up the hotel room after my craftiness and packing for Sunday then began researching for Codename: Project B while old-man Ninja fell asleep during at last episode of Chobits.

Sunday
Got up reasonably...mostly due to barking dogs next door (our hotel allowed pets).  I headed out for more free breakfast (It may have been crap but at least it was free!) and decided to forego the bagel this time and try the cereal instead.  I also got milk this time :)  Pretty standard raisin bran & orange juice - no complaints there.  Checked out, grabbed some gas for the trip home and stopped by deals again for some snacks & beverages for the day.  Sunday was considerably slower.  Probably a combination of SuperBowl Sunday + Not as much to do.  Set-up was pretty quick and I spent a few hours working sketching 8-Bit Final Fantasy costume designs for Anime Central.  Around 1pm I left Ninja at the table and headed down the Dealer's Room.  Super cramped!  As soon as I got there I noticed Peter from Anime Fan Zone who was chatting about bad cons with a woman from Bowen Dragon.  I recognized some of their con stories as I had heard about them during my internship and threw in my two cents as well.  I apologized for not being at Anime Zap! and we chatted about our local college conventions and other shenanigans.  Next thing I know an hour has gone by and vendors were talking about packing up.  I decided that with a 5.5 hour drive I'd like to do the same so after spending a few minutes with Peter & a staffer I said my goodbyes and headed upstairs to get dressed and start packing up.  I threw on some jeans and my Jeff Hardy shirt, which got a comment after me wearing it for about two minutes, haha.  Today's load was much lighter and we got out fairly quickly.  Ninja insisted we eat Fazoli's, claiming it is his favorite restaurant. (I don't see the big deal, we used to have one where we live but I only ate it once while it was there - it just taste like pasta).  He also tried to tell me that their breadsticks were better than Pizza Huts, but I told him he was wrong :)  I drove straight through again, this time no constant snowfall.  I dropped off Ninja and got home myself about 9:45.  I was very excited to get to see J for a few minutes before he had to go to work!  I tried to stay up and watch some Stargate: Atlantis but I ended up crashing out shortly thereafter.  How great it is to sleep in your own bed!

Overall: Not sure if I'll go back.  The staff seem like they're trying and are really open to suggest which means they've got great potential!  However, my expenses FAR exceeded my sales for the weekend which is really no fun when you don't even get to enjoy the convention at all.  It will just depend how I end up classifying conventions: are they just a venue, a place to make sales? or shall they be considered a promotional expense, one used to entice new customers to purchase from me in the future?  Only time will tell!

Ashley


March 2010

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