When I began Storied Threads, I was building on the love of costume design that I had developed working with Pastimes Entertainment. I loved creating unique costumes and garments, and so began my company intending to sell unique garb at renaissance faires. To me, it seemed like a natural progression.
As with any new business, things started off small. VERY small. My first every faire was Festival of the Lion in 2007, where I set up my minimal stock in an EZ-Up style tent and quickly learned that there’s more to selling garb than just being there. If I recall correctly, I left that show having sold a single pirate sash, and a single sideless surcoat.
Not to be deterred however, I learned what worked and what didn’t, gradually increased my stock, refined over the years how my items were displayed, figured out what sold and what didn’t.
And then, in 2011, I bought my first embroidery machine, and everything changed.
I mean, not all at once, don’t get me wrong. But I began making patches, and then I began making messenger bags and scarves. I found ways to tap into pop culture and geek culture, and to create my own original designs. And slowly but surely, that part of my business became MOST of my business — and allowed me to leave my day job to do this full time.
I started vending fewer ren faires, and more and more pop culture conventions. And it reached a point where I was only making garb for two events a year — but the garb for those two events ate up nearly a third of my time in the studio. The more I thought about it, the less practical this seemed, and I realized that the next step for Storied Threads was to streamline our production, and focus on only one direction. And it seemed clear to me that I was going to have to stop vending at ren faires in order to make that happen.
This past Sunday, we went down to North Haven to set up our tent for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, which I predicted would be my penultimate faire. When we got there, I made a point of speaking to the owners first thing, to let them know what I had been thinking. I’ve been working with them for a long time now, both as a vendor and as a sometimes costume designer for their shows, and I felt they deserved to hear this news before anybody else.
And then they totally surprised me. After talking amongst themselves, and discussing they pros and cons, they made me an offer — if I stayed as a vendor at the Connecticut Faires, they would let me set up a tent that was based solely in the kinds of embroidered geekery that I sell at cons. I’ll be selling patches, bags, scarves, even ties and bowties, and phasing out the garb I offer entirely.
What this means for my customers is that the garb that I currently have cut and prepped is the LAST clothing I will make for sale at faires. Additionally, a lot of what I have in stock will be discounted, some of it quite dramatically, so that I can clear it out to make room for our new business model.
Whether this will be a successful endeavor or not remains to be seen. I don’t yet know if I can make the kind of sales that I need to at a faire, selling only this kind of merchandise. But I hope that I can. And I’m extremely grateful to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire management for being so willing to work with me, and to help me try to make it successful for both of us.
That sort of thing is why this Faire is family to me.