Next steps . . .destash . . . looking for feedback!

So . . . my costuming life is going to be changing.  I am officially “done” costuming for my local high school.  My personal stuff is removed from the costume room . . . my school key is turned in . . . and I’m looking at what comes next.

I will continue to make costumes and post them because that’s what I do for fun.  I hope to make more Youtube videos–I actually have way more followers there than I do here, even though there are only a few posts and I’ve been doing it for less time.  I have enough projects stacked up in my basement and sewing room that I can create for a long time 🙂  (I’m always open to brainstorming if you’re looking for ideas for a certain show or costume–so shoot me a message).

That leads me to the conundrum of what to do with the costumes once I’ve made them.  I have an Etsy store, but the sort of costumes I make don’t really sell well there.   I also run into the “20 year vintage rule” on Etsy which limits which items I can list in my destashing.

So . . .  I am toying with opening a wordpress-linked store and selling items from my stash as well as the upcycled costumes that I’ve made.  I love thrifting, and I love the creative process of “this could work for  . . . “.  but I need to find a way to share the love.  I could see that this store could be a place to clearance out items that didn’t sell on Etsy, but could also be a place to list the cool stuff that would make a great costume.  I also like to collect things like curtains, fabric, trims, shoes and other things that are overwhelming me, especially now that I’m using less.

I’m looking for feedback . .

  1.  Do you shop online for costume possibilities/costumes?
  2. If you shop online for costumes, in the past, what sort of things have you gone looking for?
  3. If you shop online, do you go to Ebay, Etsy etc, or do you start the search using a search engine, like Google?
  4. How do you feel about “free shipping” versus actual shipping?
  5. What sort of price range do you usually shop in?
  6. Do you shop for non-clothing items, like shoes, fabric, etc.?
  7. Do you think this compromises the integrity of the blog?
  8. If you like the idea, how would you like it set up?  Gender, size, show, era?

I’m really open to any and all comments both positive, negative and constructive.  Doing this would require a financial commitment in terms of the online platform, shipping support, etc, as well as the time involved to get it up and running.

I’ve used Ebay as a selling platform in the past and have mixed feelings about it.  I’ve also seen where some people sell via Facebook.  Again. . .  I’m open to ideas, experiences and opinions.  This is just a beginning idea . . . think of yourself as market research 🙂  And seriously, I am not looking for a pat on the head, I’d love critical suggestions and input.

Looking forward to your feedback.   You can either add a comment to this post, or if you’d rather message me privately, if you follow the blog/belong to the sewing circle on FB you can use messenger, or you can email me at:  costumecrazedLiz@gmail.com.

Liz

PS.  I’ve also had comments along the way from people who have used this blog as a starting point to kick-start their costuming process.  If anyone is interested in writing a “guest blog” and sharing what you did . . . please contact me and I’ll work with you to make that happen.  You’d need to email me the text, and then a file with the pictures, and I could re-assemble it on wordpress.  You would be able to proof it before it was published.   I wish photos could be added to comments, but, they can’t, so that limits the joy of sharing.

4 thoughts on “Next steps . . .destash . . . looking for feedback!

  1. Liz, I too left costuming for a high school recently.(three years ago) I miss it a lot and allow myself to get roped in to doing the odd small production. I think Etsy is probably not a good platform for what you do except seasonally. I do think you would have success with a pull thru from your blog. I usually thrifted or “frankensteined” most of my costumes and very rarely had to make outside purchases. Most were from dance clothing retailers and the odd waitress uniforms. My usual perusing of Etsy or eBay was for some elusive thing I could not find here at home. If you can find those cool and rare items, I think a pull thru would be ideal. I am motivated by free shipping. (I am that person) I was always in need to shoes for men that are made for women. shoe dye is also something I could never find. I did mostly buy fabric and trims. Those things would have been of most interest to me.

    Cheers,
    Melissa

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    • Thanks. This is exactly the sort of feedback I’m looking for. I have ideas . . it’s just the format and finding the “sweet spot” for pricing . . something that makes things affordable for the low budget costumer (for whom I identify with!) and yet, doesn’t make it a volunteer activity for myself. I’ve heard that access to thrift stores, their price points and the sorts of items they might carry varies greatly depending upon what part of the country you live in. I always weigh shipping costs with the amount of time , and gas $, it takes me to drive any distance. It’s easy to donate hundreds of dollars of travel expense to whatever project you are working on if you don’t pay attention.

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  2. Liz, something you have access to that not everyone has is true thrift stores. I have Goodwill and in ours almost everything is current and in great condition. Otherwise we have vintage shops way out of costuming budgets. I think people would be interested in items as you described – the things that would eventually make a good costume. eBay used have stuff like that now it is more rare. Especially if you made suggestions for what show it would work for. I am doing ByeBye Birdie this year. None of those items in Goodwill. Good luck with whatever you decide. Nancy Figur

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    • Hi Nancy . . . oh . . this issue is such a dilemma for me! Last year I experimented with a website via Etsy Pattern hosting. It was a fail for several reasons (including the time I was willing/able to put into it). First the templates they offered were not a good fit. The first one I chose people (including my own kids) didn’t realize there were items listed, and so never moved on from the landing page 😦 so I wasted those visits–and lots of times you only get one shot. Then I had very few overall visits–and so learned that driving traffic to an independent site takes a lot of $ and effort (and I’ll be honest, when we have high census times at the hospital, I work extra there, and my costuming/blogging/fun stuff gets shoved aside, sometimes for months). My goal was to provide affordable costuming pieces because I love to thrift and imagine, but don’t have the time or need to do the creative part. What I found, however, was that by the time I purchased a piece, and added on something for overhead (gas, water/energy for washing, hanging racks, labels, tags, shipping materials) and added a little something for my time PLUS shipping costs . . . items were no longer as affordable for the low-budget-large-cast costumer as I had hoped. I also found out I couldn’t link my Etsy and Pattern sites (even though they are from the same company), so there went a huge potential for traffic (from costuming sorts of people). I had chosen Pattern because it was Etsy supported, and this was right when all of the internet sales tax changes were taking place and I didn’t want to deal with that mess on my own, but it wasn’t the right choice. So, after I closed my Pattern store (no sales, less than 1000 views in 4 months) I decided to look at other multi-vendor options. I started selling on Poshmark this spring. Poshmark has the advantage of flat rate shipping for 5 lbs or less (great for heavier items, not so great for first class), and then, they take 20% with a minimum fee of $2.95 (I figure all Etsy fees come to about 10%). This is high, especially for low cost/low weight items. I also don’t like the Poshmark format where more is better–it pushes you to spend a lot of online time sharing your “closet” and “liking”, “sharing” and “following” other sellers indiscriminately–just to create traffic & numbers, which I don’t like. So . . . on to Mercari. Mercari takes a flat 10%, but the shipping is not as good, and I’ve found buyers (including myself) are bargain shopping. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it works better when you are not trying to resell. I haven’t listed a lot there as I’ve been focusing on Etsy, lurking before I leap, catching up on paperwork, and deciding if this is really the path I want to take (I moved to a new job this year, and am working more hours on a less regular schedule and it’s been an adjustment). So . . right now I am considering trying to start a stand-alone that is linked to this blog through woo-commerce. My daughter’s boyfriend has the skills to help me with that so it is more of a realistic possibility than it was previously. You may have noticed I haven’t written a blog post in a long time. I did a little bit of last minute costuming help for our local high school last spring, but it just wasn’t the same. I had a couple little projects I took the pictures for, but never found the motivation to get them written. I’ve been struggling to decide what the right path is for me, and/or if the “costuming thing” is done. I’d sort of decided to just focus on my Etsy shop . . but with the new customer satisfaction concerns I feel very unsettled with that. I know they say it hasn’t changed, butis just more transparent, but I felt better doing long range planning when I didn’t know that (during most low volume times of the year) two unhappy customers could suddenly shut my store down. Right now I’m leaning towards further exploring a woo-commerce storefront linked to my blog . . . so something may be coming down the line. I just need more hours in my day to get done everything that needs to (isn’t that the story for so many!). The bookkeeping for taxes and tracking is very time consuming, especially for the sorts of one-of-a-kind things I tend to make & sell. I wish I had a magic wand to make it all happen, and I really wish I could send stuff to people at the steeply discounted rates the big guys get. I’m a little leery of the whole push to privatize the USPS as well–I don’t see that as a positive, especially for people in very rural areas. As a seller, the porch pirate business is also hugely concerning, especially combined with “get-it-for-free” scammers. As a consumer I understand the side that you expect to get your package and don’t want to pay for something that you didn’t get, but as a small business owner operating on a fairly low profit margin, if it was marked delivered, it puts me in a really hard spot. At any rate . . . once I make a decision and actually get something done about it, I’ll be sharing. Right now I’m going to go and make another orphan costume. They are my current costuming/recycling obsession and people are actually buying them–always a plus, lol. Hopefully I’ll find the motivation to get some posts and videos made soon. No wedding in my life this year–so time should be a little more flexible 🙂 Take care and good luck with your show! Liz

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