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Unread 02-18-2008, 07:15 PM   #1
lost_teflon
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Want to be a commissioner...any tips?

Hey everyone! I love to cosplay and have been sewing for many years, and have been thinking of making costumes and accessories to sell. I'm a student as of now, so time gets tight, but I've been thinking of selling for awhile now, and I feel the time is right for me ^_^

Just wondering if I could have some advice from commissioners/ buyers about what it takes to be a good commissioner; what kind of business end goes into it, etc. I just figure if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right.

So any advice relating to this is much appreciated. Like, what was it like starting out, what are the challenges, dos and don'ts? In the meantime, I'll search the forums. ^_^ Thank you.
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2011 shall be known as the year of epic j-rock cosplay!
Jasmine You~ Revenant Choir (DONE)
Hizaki~ Philia and Masquerade (Maybe....)
Reita~ Filth in the Beauty (if I have energy!)


Last edited by lost_teflon : 02-18-2008 at 07:25 PM.
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Unread 02-18-2008, 07:42 PM   #2
ly*chee
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As a person who buys costumes.
I'll suggest now, communication 8D;
Try not to be one of those commissioners who are nice and keep in touch up until the payment is given. ^_^; People would like to know where their money is going, and how their commissioned item(s) are coming along! After all most of us here work quite hard for our money =(
Makes paranoid people like me less worried if the person commissioning something for me updates me on what's going on ^^

And have some samples of your work obviously xD! That's all I really know >_>; since I don't sell things I just buy xD!
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Unread 02-18-2008, 09:26 PM   #3
Ghost613
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Samples = BIG plus. There are some people who won't even consider buying from you without them.
Also, don't get disappointed if you give out about 20 quotes and only get... four customers.
Get a website! *thumbs up*
Always be very kind and courteous to your client. Even if they irk you a little bit (note the little bit. If they're being horrendous, you have every right to be a little impolite. Especially if it has to deal with them being a dead beat).
Always protect yourself (installment paying, contracts, ect.). People talk about all the time about commissioners scamming people, but never about the reverse, which happens all too often unfortunately.
Don't take on projects you can't do and don't be afraid to tell people you can't do it. They respect that and might look to you for a simpler costume in the future.
Last but not least: KNOW your craft VERY well, so if you are asked any questions you WILL know the answer.
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Unread 02-19-2008, 05:47 AM   #4
The Hag
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I totally agree with Lychee that good communication up front will save you many many problems. I always do a simple email "contract" - just a list of payment terms, price, delivery date(s), some item details, followed by 'I agree to the above, name, date'. This has helped me catch mistakes and misunderstandings before they are a problem.

However, you should set limits as to communication otherwise you may find yourself spending all day answering e-mail. If you find this becoming a problem, you can include in the contract when you will send updates and state that you will not answer emails until then (but then you need to make sure you meet those deadlines!) It will also save you time if you keep templates of the information you need to send. Then you can just edit the specifics for each customer.

Here is a very useful guide written by Eriol:
http://chudahs-corner.com/userdirs/e...ume_guide.html

Good luck! ^_^
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Unread 02-19-2008, 10:21 PM   #5
lost_teflon
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Oh hag, could you send the link again? It said error when I clicked on it.

I always knew customer service is SUPER important. That was the big thing at my last job. I mean, it makes sense, if you're not nice and give good service you're just not going to see people anymore!

thanks so much for this guys, such a help!! Contracts are something I never thought of, but seems really important, so thanks!

Maybe it's time to update my freewebs with samples. I just have to...um...fill it with pictures and info o_O
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Otakon 2011 Lineup
Jasmine You (Revenant Choir)- Friday and Saturday
Switzerland- Sunday


2011 shall be known as the year of epic j-rock cosplay!
Jasmine You~ Revenant Choir (DONE)
Hizaki~ Philia and Masquerade (Maybe....)
Reita~ Filth in the Beauty (if I have energy!)


Last edited by lost_teflon : 02-19-2008 at 10:26 PM.
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Unread 02-20-2008, 07:27 PM   #6
Kukkii-san
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For starters, I suggest that you don't take more than one or two orders at a time.

Make sure you can meet the customer's deadline (allow for supplies to be ordered and payments to clear into your account!), and be honest about whether you can do it or not.

As you may or may not know from your own costumes, most projects take longer and are more difficult to finish than you think they are, but when making costumes for others, you won't get away with sloppy, last-minute work. Also, you should be able to give your customer an accurate price quote, so planning is key if you don't want the costume to turn out more expensive than you said it would be.

Sell your costumes - but don't sell your soul. Research prices thoroughly before you send someone a quote. Consider paypal and shipping fees, gas and time for trips to the fabric store, and materials like yarn and hairspray that you easily forget but that add up in the end. Write down how long it takes to make each part of a costume / prop / wig so you can estimate the amount of time needed to make something similar in the future.

I learned a lot from reading other people's store policies and FAQs, so i recommend browsing other commissioners' websites for inspiration.
Here's the fixed link: http://chudahs-corner.com/userdirs/e...ume_guide.html

If your time is limited, it may be wise to specialize in something you're really good at or something that few sellers offer, instead of taking all kinds of orders for complete costumes. But time will tell - just do what you feel comfortable with!

Last edited by Kukkii-san : 02-20-2008 at 07:36 PM.
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Unread 02-20-2008, 07:59 PM   #7
wpuzzle
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Good communication is one of the most crucial, if not the most crucial aspects of commissioning. Please do not be one of those commissioners that gives his/her customers crappy communication after payment is received. It makes the customers feel like they're scammed.

Do everything that you and the customer have both agreed on - this includes deadline, progress pictures (if you've agreed specifically on certain progress pictures), etc. An agreement is an agreement, and this is important. If something that you have agreed on is not met, do give the customer some sort of compensation, because they pay you the money in order to get the service and the product that you and the seller have agreed on.

And I also agree with what most others have said in this thread. =)
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Unread 02-20-2008, 08:57 PM   #8
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Like the others have said, communication is key. I was talking with two different people for the same commission and one of them never responded after their initial e-mail to me about being interested in taking on the commission. Who'd I go with? The other person who has responded to every single e-mail I've sent her in a timely manner.

As a buyer, I personally wouldn't commission someone who didn't have images of previous works they've done, whether it's a costume they've made for themselves or a commission. The more, the better. Examples help me decide if I think the commissioner is capable of making my desired costume. That's not meaning to sound "uppity" or "elitist," but if my costume needs patches, zippers, and any sort of intricate detail, I'd go with someone who has experience doing those types of things before and does it well.

Also, I find that reputation helps you more than raw talent. I was looking at a certain commissioner's website and was amazed at some of the costumes she's made, but when I researched her name, I saw mostly bad reviews about late or never received cosplay, taken money, no refunds, etc. So it's important to build a good reputation from the get go and do your best to maintain it.

And I, too, second what everyone else has said.
 
Unread 02-20-2008, 10:04 PM   #9
Ms. Juri
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I know this has been said, but it's a really important thing. Know your limits! Only take on as much work as you know for absolute sure you can make good on. A lot of commissioner screw up on that, especially when they start making sales. When you're getting the money it might seem like nothing to tack on an extra costume or two to your list, but later when the deadline is coming up, and you or a family member is sick, or you're just exhausted and want a little free time, you're going to wish you'd said "sorry, but I can't." Get a good feel for how much time you need to do certain kinds of work, and add a little extra on for when something inevitably goes wrong.

Also, progress pictures are a great way to keep good communication with a buyer. Try to send them often and be sure they're decent quality. Progress pictures will firstly help assure your buyer that you aren't one of those scammer commissioners and that you're working on their item and have every intention of getting it to them. It's also a great way to work out problems or misunderstandings with customers before it's too late. If you're sending progress pictures, a customer can tell you when something isn't they way they want it, and possibly in enough time for you to fix it without totally ruining your schedule.
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Unread 02-21-2008, 03:26 PM   #10
cmkcubed
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I'm actually about to do my first commission (maybeO_o?), and they asked me the price. Well, I couldn't answer her right away because I didn't want to be too pricey and seem like a rip off. For those that do this, how much do you usually charge? Like would you charge for the pattern, materials, and then tack on some for labor? and how much would you charge for labor? O_o I'm way too nice and I don't want to charge -a lot- but then again I don't want to screw myself, yargh! ^^; Should I maybe figure out how many hours it will take and then times that by min wage?
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Unread 02-21-2008, 03:37 PM   #11
Kukkii-san
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The answer is pretty simple: Charge for everything you need to make the costume, and charge for every single hour you plan on putting into the costume.

Something around $10/hour is a good rate for someone who's new to the business, while experienced commissioners may charge more (like $20+ per hour.) Yes, the costume will be expensive, but you shouldn't undervalue your work! Don't try to compete by offering ridicuslously low prices, it's going to ruin you in the end (and possibly other commissioners who can't compete with your prices.)

If you want to get a feel for how long it takes to make a costume, start with something like accessories or simple costumes, and make it a habit to write down how long it takes you to make every single costume piece or complete each step (like making the pattern, finishing the seams, sewing on 10 buttons, etc.)

Also, write down how much you spend on supplies even when making your own costumes, keep the receipts and store links so you can look up the prices when you need them, and always make a shopping list and research prices before giving a price quote for something you haven't done before.

Last edited by Kukkii-san : 02-21-2008 at 03:45 PM.
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Unread 02-23-2008, 11:22 AM   #12
lost_teflon
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Since we're talking about pricing, for my last costume I timed it and got some approximate prices. My Hyena Uruha costume took about 32 hours and without material costs at minimum wage it came to $220; $12 an hour at $378. (Don't want to sell it yet, but just thought I'd figure out the prices.) I guess that's kind of low for custom since I didn't count materials? I was mostly using what I already had lying around so I'm not sure what I paid for everything.

Using $10 an hour for the guitar I added material costs and it came to approx $150. Does this sound about right? I also want to be sure I can deliver quality for the price; It's what I'd expect from others!

Here's some pics of the guitar and costume while in progress (Only had some jacket details at that point):

http://www.freewebs.com/yamamikoness/urumain.jpg
http://www.freewebs.com/yamamikoness...tardetails.jpg

Also, anyone know how much people are willing to pay for custom shoes? That's something I can make and do professionally from scratch. I only have last sizes 7.5-8.5 with varying toe shapes and heel heights, but I have all the materials and could definitely do those. That's something I've never timed but I remember I completely lasted and soled a shoe in 3 hours last semester, that I know for sure. I'm very comfortable working with shoes and accessories like belts.

Here's a pic of that shoe I lasted in 3 hours last semester (probably only took me 3 hours to make the patterns and do the sewing):

http://www.freewebs.com/yamamikoness/ravensmaller.jpg

Thanks so much again for all the tips!
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Otakon 2011 Lineup
Jasmine You (Revenant Choir)- Friday and Saturday
Switzerland- Sunday


2011 shall be known as the year of epic j-rock cosplay!
Jasmine You~ Revenant Choir (DONE)
Hizaki~ Philia and Masquerade (Maybe....)
Reita~ Filth in the Beauty (if I have energy!)


Last edited by lost_teflon : 02-23-2008 at 11:26 AM.
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Unread 02-23-2008, 11:25 AM   #13
Mimiwu
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You make shoes?
That's awesome!

I can't really give advice on that area, but I know I'd pay alot for certain custom shoes. OwO;
Like, srsly.
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Unread 02-23-2008, 11:38 AM   #14
The Hag
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The shoes look awesome! For what it's worth - I would recommend that you start off focusing on shoes. People may be hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on a full costume from new commissioner when there are others with a known track record, but I don't recall seeing anyone else offering to make shoes from scratch. That could be a real niche for you. Good luck!
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Unread 02-23-2008, 11:46 AM   #15
trixyloupwolf
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wow cool shoes

you should post commisioner tread in the market place
well the new stuff ^^

its pretty cool you abble to do that

personaly
if i have new before i would have order shoe from you hehe!


don,t be shy and try
that what they say
shiness will never get you no were ^^
so please go fowar ^^

yeah!

friendly
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