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tarinalove
08-04-2011, 10:35 PM
So, I've been wondering how folks get started as a commissioner?
From the Prop maker perspective:
From the Costume Maker perspective:
From the plushy/UFO makers perspective:
(Please post your responses!)

Do you have a business license and/or what age did you start commissioning?

Do you sell online or just locally?

Have you ever been harassed by the general public or police or other "professional" businesses?

What is your 'net worth'?

Is commissioning your full-time job or your part time hobby or job?

From the Commissionee/Buyer's POV:
How long have you been getting your cosplay items commissioned?

Do you use a 'house' or 'store front' like Cosplay*House or some other one?

Do you use the marketplace on cosplay.com?

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Old Links I found while looking for a thread that would answer my above questions.

Selling Costumes-What counts and What doesn't (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=11574&highlight=commissioner)
The most money you've paid for a costume (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=36639&highlight=commissioner)
Copyright infringement (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=60968&highlight=commissioner)
Attracting Business (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=53535&highlight=commissioner)
Commission Contract? (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=78106&highlight=commissioner)
Pricing and Etiquette (http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=104066&highlight=commissioner)

Lemme know if I should add any more.

tarinalove
08-04-2011, 10:36 PM
post reserved for more links or to add new information.

CapsuleCorp
08-05-2011, 08:18 PM
It's easy for anyone to place an ad in the marketplace and say they're taking commissions. Really, all it takes is the guts to do so and an email address posted for taking customer information. But this is also the reason we end up with long lists of cp.com users who have earned terrible reputations as bad commissioners/scam artists, and those of us who are legit have a much harder time convincing people to hire us.

I personally started taking commissions in 2000, while I was still somewhat new to the construction aspect of sewing but had gotten a good reputation among fellow costumers for my own work on Star Wars stuff. By conscientiously taking and completing commission orders, on time, well-made, and accurate, my reputation went way up and I was able to easily keep taking business. Up until a license for Star Wars costumes was given to a full-time company, and I had to change my focus and branch out. I let Strange Land Costuming lapse for a few years, but it's now a full-time venture.

Do you have a business license? Absolutely. I have my federal EIN as a sole-proprieter business.

Do you sell online or just locally? Both. Online orders are more lucrative but locally I can get things sold right away.

Have you ever been harassed by the general public or police or other "professional" businesses? Nnnnno...? I don't see why the public or police would harass a business person?

What is your 'net worth'? None of your business. That's between me and my accountant. But I'm sure as hell not rich from this line of work.

Is commissioning your full-time job or your part time hobby or job? Full-time. And in this economy, that's not a good thing.


If people really want to get started as a commissioner, it's more than just putting up a post in the marketplace saying you'll take commissions. So many people do it, you have to have something that others don't. Most importantly, you have to have great customer service. You have to respond to emails on time, be polite and friendly, and be careful about balancing your bottom line with the customer's needs. Sacrificing everything including your profit just because you're afraid a customer might not like you is bad business, but so is being a complete jerk because you feel the customer is an idiot (even if they are). The second thing I absolutely recommend is having the skills for it. It's one thing to say you take commissions after sewing one garment...but what if the first person who wants to hire you is asking you for a fully-lined ballgown with a boned bodice and piped trim? If you've never done anything complex, you won't be able to satisfy customers looking for complex projects. Make sure your own personal sewing skill is up to snuff before trying to make things for money. If you suck, that's going to get around via the review thread.

In order to make it as a commissioner, you have to be physically (and mentally) capable of sewing almost anything a customer might ask you for. Or, in non-sewing cases, capable of constructing it. And doing so at a reasonable rate that both makes you money and doesn't cost too much in the customer's eyes. You have to be able to meet deadlines, and to work with the customer to satisfy their every need within reason. SLC has been going for ten years, which is now my special thing to offer that other commissioners might not have. I have experience, so when people ask, that's the thing I offer them. Others it might be their stellar customer service, or their expertise at a specific method (like woodworking, for prop builders, or a vaccuforming table or something).

Lupakara
11-09-2011, 11:29 AM
Great post Capsule Corp!! I'm just getting started into taking commissions myself after years of doing my own costumes (with many genuine compliments from random folks and cosplayers alike) and costumes for friends and family. I feel that my sewing ability needs to improve and plan to take some classes so that I will be able to make the more complex costumes such as fancy victorian dress etc. My work is good, tidy, etc and I'm good at working with faux fur and anything involving "moulding". I'm very crafty and like making props too!
I have an art background so it seems to come natural to me.

Anyway, my question/comment is this: I will accept commissions only if I have confidence that I can deliver a great product, and don't charge an arm and a leg for them. I need experience still to have more work to show, and thus I'm keeping costs as low as possible.
That said, there simply are certain types of costumes that I cannot yet do either because I lack that specific skill or because my machine isn't equppied to handle the material (soon I plan to invest in a type that can though). SO... if I am asked if I can do something like a really fancy detailed dress (like the uber victorian thing I mentioned) I will have to reply with a "Sorry, but I am not yet skilled enough in that area to feel confident about the result."
Do you think that will turn a lot of customers away? Will they think I'm unprofessional or not skilled enough for other costumes?
I hope not, because I am pretty good at the regular stuff, but I'm interested in hearing opinions on that!

Many thanks!

lindzilu18
01-04-2012, 08:58 AM
If y'all want a commission, I have a job that would be a pretty good amount of pocket change for y'all