27 December 2006

wedding bell blues

no, this is not a statement about my personal life. as we teeter on the edge of january, i get to try and predict what i can book myself out for the following year. i am working on my official look book and catalogue for the year, and i am trying to guess how much time i will have for custom projects; which for the most part, consist of weddings.

i have been evolving my wedding policies from the get go, in a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants/learn-as-i-go sort of way. it has been these countless dresses made from scratch that have honed my design and dress making skills to their pursnickety, precise, perfect, insanity that they have become today. they could be satisfying: i've worked in partnership with someone to start from a few pictures torn from magazines, little sketches and swatches of fabric to create some true masterpieces. i have developed some close friendships, and attended some beautiful weddings. but then, there have also been the nightmares: the indecisive, the micromanagement, the person who turns on me, because i just happen to be there. there are the insane deadlines, and the last minute fittings for the out of towners, and then there is the tight schedule. i have had many summers where i had not one day off; i watched wistfully as my friends all took the day off to go to the river in the summer heat. not me. i could not miss the deadline.

two summers ago, i swore i would never do another wedding. i swore up and down that i would do no more custom work. the end of august 2005 found me ill, completely broke, and i hadn't designed or made anything for my wholesale line for a full six months. i was done. and then last winter, i took on a few custom projects. they were suprisingly easy, once i decided that i could say no to them. my friends reaction to me taking these projects was, "oh, so you needed the money." actually, it wasn't. i like my clients and their projects were interesting.

i took them on with no trepidation, because i made a few things clear to myself, and in turn to my prospective clients:

1. that the project is something that i want to do. i can do almost anything, but if i don't want to do something, it takes so much more energy to do than i could ever be worth any amount of money. i have taken on way too many things that i have no desire to do (please do not ever ask me to do alterations!). look at my website, or come in and look at my collection. does it resonate with what you want?

2. can you trust me? i have a pretty specific design aesthetic, and a knack for talking to someone, and knowing what to make for them. i have been doing this successfully for years. i listen to you, i take clues from our conversation as to who you are and what i can make for you. when i hire someone to do something for me, i choose them carefully, so that i can tell them what i want, and then let them do their job. if you want "that exact dress" that is listed for $10,000. for $500., i am not the person to talk to. if you want something inspired by this picture or that other idea, then let's talk.

3. i have to charge for my time. i've learned the hard way, that a custom dress isn't just the time spent cutting and sewing, but also drawing, drafting, sourcing (finding and procuring all of your materials; getting your fabric wholesale, zippers, lining, interfacing, thread, hooks and eyes, beads ribbon, etc.), fitting, fitting and fitting. i know how long this takes me. i am proficient in what i do, but i need to take all of this into account. i don't get to charge for the nightmares, i haven't figured out a pay scale for that yet.

4. i need to know that we can work together. this is most important. i will talk to anyone about their project, and this first consultation is always free. it is an opportunity to feel to feel them out, what the timeline is, their budget, and what their project will entail. but most of all it lets me know whether working with them is feasible. can we get along? most weddings are 6-9 months with the last couple of weeks spent fitting and putting the last finishing details. even a simple custom project can last 2 weeks to a couple of months.

i am not quite sure how much of my time i will be able to dedicate to custom projects in the coming year, but feel free to call me for a consultation. now is the time.

and! i don't just make wedding dresses. i actually like to make fun fancy dresses, skirts and corsets too, which you can wear more than once. just wait until you see the sun dress designs i will have once i have time to make what's dancing around in my head. spring is sooner than you think.

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