Costume design is a fun and profitable way to make a living. Your primary duties are to create clothing for theater, special events, dance shows, television and film. It's possible to do it all primarily from home and to be your own boss. Many costume designers are solo entrepreneurs and work as freelancers on projects. If you enjoy working on a variety of projects and can meet the challenge of doing the research required, then this may be one of the best business ideas for you.
Education and Training
You need at least a bachelor's degree in costume or fashion design to work as a costume designer. Some locations "require" a master's degree in fine arts or a related degree, which means that you'll only get hired if you have one. You'll also need to take additional training courses to compete with other costume designers. Training in textile fabrics, garment construction and period fashions look impressive to prospective employers who hire freelance costume designers.
Salary of Costume Designers
The entertainment industry doesn't seem to slow down even during harsh economic times, which means there are always opportunities to earn a living in costume design. The salary range for designers is from $27,000 to $51,000. Many designers get paid by the hour, and you can charge anywhere from $15 per hour plus the cost of materials to $35 per hour. What you can charge depends on your experience, your competitors' rates and what employers are paying.
Opportunities in Costume Design
You can choose to work in particular areas or with groups of people for your costume design business. What you choose will depend on your personality type and your lifestyle. For example, if you want the most freedom and flexibility, then don't take on high stressed projects that require you to be available exclusively to the employer for a period of time. Here are some opportunities to consider:
- Design costumes for parades
- Create clothing for theatrical productions
- Work with television production companies
- Sew period fashions for historical societies and museums
- Design accessories and clothing for film productions
- Work with dance troops and companies
When you're first starting out, you cannot afford to be picky about the work that's available, unless it conflicts with your values and ethics. That means, you may have to deal with inflated egos and eccentric personalities as you work on costume design. There will come a point in your business when you can pick and choose who to work with, but in the interim, you have to build up a customer base and make money.
Marketing Your Skills
The best marketing strategies are centered on networking. In this business, it's all about who knows you. Networking is a challenge for a home business owner, because it can be tempting to hide behind the computer. You can accomplish a lot online, especially using social media to network. You also have to get out there now and then, to shake hands and show people your portfolio. Post your portfolio online and have a presence on social networks, like Twitter. Be helpful on online forums, but also attend events in your area where you can meet production staff members.
It may seem like an uphill battle to get started in costume design from home, but you can do it. Focus on gaining experience and establishing contacts to get jobs.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.