Back in 2006 (I think it was 2006…..) I was costuming the King Arthur Faire at Hammond Castle, when I was struck by an epiphany. This — making costumes, creating designs, dressing people so they looked amazing — THIS was what I loved to do. I mean, I knew that admin was never a calling, just a job. But this was the first time it occurred to me that there might be another way. I thought, “Maybe I should start a business. Making garb, and selling it at faires.”
I polled my friends in the cast. “If I did this, would you buy stuff I made?” And they all said yes. I decided to assume they meant it, and weren’t just being nice, and within a few weeks I had a website and a sort of vague game plan. (Formal business plans? What are those?)
Things started off slow, but with promise. I did a few custom pieces for people, and vended at my first few small shows with limited success. I paid attention to what people liked and what they didn’t, and started refining the things I had to offer. And year after year, things improved. I got to the point where I could vend at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, with a five week run. I started having Kate help me build stock, so that we could get more produced for each show. I bought a medieval pavilion to replace my original EZ-Up tent.
And then, I bought an embroidery machine. I wasn’t precisely sure what I was going to do with it, but I had some idea of doing embroidered pirate sashes and such. I made embroidered pet bandanas. The original small satchel bags.
And then last year, I started delving into the world of geekery and fandoms. It started with the Doctor Who Awareness Ribbon patch, which was so well received that for last year’s fall CTRF show, I did up a handful of other Doctor Who patches. And I found that I could not keep them in stock — people went NUTS for them. So, I started making more, and tapping other fandoms whenever inspiration struck. By the time of this year’s Robin Hood show in May, I had over 100 different patch designs, was making daily sales through Etsy, and sold nearly 200 patches just at CTRF. I also started adding these elements to my messenger bags, which had sold only okay before this.
By now, as we get ready for CTRF’s King Arthur show to open this weekend, Storied Threads has grown so large that I cannot keep up with it. I’m still building stock for the show, and trying to fill orders at the same time — all in the two hours or so that I have in the evenings, after I get home from work. I realized that it’s time for a change.
So yesterday, I gave my notice at my day job. By the end of October, I will be self-employed, depending on Storied Threads (and my Escape Fund savings account, when necessary) to pay my bills. I will finally be able to do the thing I love, and call it my job.
I cannot wait.
All of the pictures in this post, by the way, hang on the wall next to my desk at my day job. Because sometimes, you need things like this to remind you that dreams are achievable.