A user sent us this question but we felt it would be pertinent to answer it publicly, simply because we have gotten this question a few times now and I feel it would explain some things about commissions.
We are always incredibly, immensely appreciative of people who love our work enough to want to own it. It is a huge compliment. If it were feasible to make a business off of selling cosplay, we would potentially do it! Unfortunately, cosplay is not a viable business. It is so much more effective for us to give out advice and suggestions and tutorials to spread the wealth of knowledge, rather than sew for other people, so that is what we do.
And at the end of the day, it’s not that we don’t do commissions. It’s just that there is basically no fair, non-exploitative market for it. For the time it would take to make these costumes, there are so extremely few costumes we could make and others would actually pay for. Cosplay is a labor of love as a hobby, but as employment, it is such a miserable market, and here’s why:
For Madoka’s petticoat alone, it took two people 30 hours to cut, sew, gather, assemble and finish. If those two people are getting paid minimum wage, then just cost of wages alone is $615. That doesn’t even include cost of materials, notions, maintenance for machines/tools, and the profit necessary to make it worthwhile. And that’s minimum wage at $10.25/hr CND! Given that sewing is a skilled craft, minimum wage is not appropriate pay –– so for labour, you’re really talking much high higher than $615.
And that’s just the petticoat. It took seven different people from start to finish to put Madoka together, together clocking multiple hundreds of hours. Naturally, it’s always slower to put it together the first time, but you can see how it would add up.
There is simply no demand for this.
Virtually nobody is going to consider paying that, let alone actually do it.
You can buy a full Madoka costume with accessories and whatnot for less than $100 off the Hong Kong market because they have incredibly low supply costs and pay their workers virtually nothing. Sure, it may not be the most accurate thing, but I dunno: does anyone really care about Madoka enough to pay multiple thousands of dollars for her outfit? That’s just the truth of it, really.
We could not possibly do it for any cheaper because we do not have hundreds of free hours to spare to do it out of love. Lots of people in the community get upset by cosplayers “audaciously” asking for thousands of dollars for their work, but we feel it is audacious for people to ask for hundreds of hours of work at only a dollar or two an hour. We all have day jobs already –– we couldn’t possibly give up working hours there to make a fraction of that sewing!
Literally the only person with an effective business selling cosplay is God Save The Queen Fashion… and Catherine L. Jones was a professional costume-maker long before GSTQ hit the cosplay scene. Jones is not cheap. Months ago, Jenn was curious about how much QSTQ’s Batgirl belts ran. The quote? $700. For a belt. And thinking about how long it would take for a professionally trained skilled seamstress to make and include the cost of running a business that pays the bills… Jenn thinks this is perfectly reasonable.
Hell, here’s the other version of it: we know a girl in the community who does sailor fukus. They’re good. She sells them for under $300. It takes her a week to make them and it costs roughly $80 in materials. People have expressed that this is “steep”. How many dollars an hour do you think she’s getting paid? Far too little, in our opinion.
We can’t play that game. We can’t compete with Hong Kong sweatshops, especially when the HK sweatshops are exploitative to begin with.
But on the bright side, our help is pretty much free! :)
- Christine and Jenn