Customers who are in need of costume design are all around where you live. Think about all the holidays, parades, special events and other celebrations that require costumes. What ends up happening is that people go to the retail stores to find what they need, because they don't know to hire a costume designer or they don't know of anyone in the business. You can make a name for yourself and find the customers to sustain your business, if you know how to market.
Community Theater Groups
A great way to get started in costume design is to make costumes for community theater groups. You may not get big bucks, but you'll gain experience and begin to grow your reputation. The crew and actors involved in the plays will remember you and your work, and may call upon you when they move on to even bigger theatrical opportunities. Begin to attend shows put on by the groups, and network with anyone who has to power to hire you. Have your portfolio ready, and work hard to build relationships with directors.
College Theater Departments
The colleges in your area may have in-house staff for all their costume design needs, but there may be windows of opportunities to work as a freelancer on certain projects. The trick is to build relationships prior to a job becoming available. One of the best ways to do that is to volunteer your services. Don't take on a huge project, but at the same time if you give some of your time, you'll reap the rewards. You can also put that experience on your resume and on marketing materials, to help boost your credibility. The colleges you work with may become future customers, but you never know who might attend a play featuring your work. You may find a customer from the audience.
Make a list of 25 historical societies that can benefit from your costume design business and contact them. These societies often have museums, antique stores, historical villages and reenactment events that all require custom made costumes. Some societies may need additional clothes or a new wardrobe for employees. It can be a fun way to combine a love for research, history and costume design.
Festivals and Parades
Customers will find you when you seek out opportunities to display your work. Try to get your costumes featured in large festivals and parades, whether formally or informally. If know of individuals or groups who are participating in festivals, market your services to them. If you don't know of anyone, show up with your family in costumes. Strike up conversations with attendees and have your business cards ready. Curious prospects in need of your services for their next event will hunt you down to find out who designed your costume.
Don't forget to tell all of your friends and family members about your business. They can refer you to customers who are within their circles.
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.