Dear customer….


This will be a little bit different from my usual posts, and possibly a little controversial, but I feel some things simply have to be said. Running a business has its ups and downs, pros and cons, its challenges and its rewards. I love running mine – and the only thing that sometimes makes me pause is the interaction with some of my potential clients. Usually online, sometimes at trading events. I feel I have been very lucky in general, and my customers are at least 90% lovely people (I became friends with many of them), but over the years there have been enough of the less-than-perfect kind to make up that the 10%.

To be honest,  in most cases people simply behave in a particular way because they are oblivious to certain facts about the way of that life people in my line of work lead. They simply do not realize how rude they can sound – I believe if they did, they would be mortified! True, some people are dicks and nothing can change that,  but most of them are simply unaware that their behaviour can cause offence.

This is not simply my own opinion – quite a few folks  running small craft & art related businesses have experienced similar treatment, and probably for the same reason; I suppose that other small business may have been on the receiving end, too.

Below I am going to list the most common ‘faux pas‘  that I have personally come across. Usually small things, but small things do accumulate and can lead to a very negative client experience. And, hopefully, small things are also easy to amend. Some of the interactions mentioned may only be perceived as less than pleasant  from my personal perspective – as a very happy introvert I tend to  have a very specific perception I suppose – things that make me want to turn around and run away may make another costumer jump for joy, for example – but I think some of the  situations are relevant no matter what your personal traits may be.

So without further ado, this is my private list of ‘issues’ – and how they may be avoided!

Bedford Borough-20130318-02404

 Email/online interactions:

*Being polite matters!

Polite clients are a pleasure to deal with, and as a result I am willing to go the extra mile for them. I either offer a discount, or a free postage, or do additional high quality finishing work, just because they have been a joy to work with. If you are rude to start with, I am unlikely to accept your commission in the first place – despite what everybody seems to think, people in the creative industry rarely do sit around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for some work to miraculously happen to them, and are not therefore simply happy to accept anything from anyone – and so:

*Remember that written word can come across much more harshly than when spoken.

*I understand that nowadays formality tends to be often forgotten, but please when writing to me try to address me by my proper name, and not diminutives or ‘ huni’, ‘sweetie’ etc.  This is a personal pet hate – I understand that some people just use  endearments  automatically, but neither my family, my friends nor even my husband call me ‘sweetie’ . For a complete stranger, in a strictly professional situation, it is simply off-putting,  at least for me. My name is Izabela – please use it and we will all be happy.

*Please do not ask me to copy the work of another designer; especially if you want it at a fraction of the original price, (more on the cost of bespoke, art items and pricing in the industry can be read about in the this post – A Queen on a Budget, please.) Also, do not  be offended if I cannot take your order because it is something that we do not make – in such cases I will attempt to provide links to other people who specialise in that area, (shoes, fantasy and fancy-dress costume, etc), I simply know my limits and if I decline to accept an order, it is for a good reason. We specialise in historically accurate clothing – if you need a fancy-dress Victorian costume with medieval sleeves and Regency silhouette, in lycra, we may not be the best choice – but we probably know people who can make it for you, so we will endeavour to provide you with an alternative solution if we can!

*Book well ahead – I tend to be booked up to 6 months or more in advance. Yes, I can sometimes have an emergency slot  available, but often I simply cannot provide you with a full Regency finery for ‘next week’ – it is nothing personal, there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to do the work – especially since those rare emergency slots are already digging into my personal time and rest.

9. planning - in the calendar and working out components and time necessary for an order

*Be prepared to sign a contract and don’t be offended when we ask for a deposit; It is simply a part of running a business in a proper and effective manner, and avoiding running at a loss. More on running a business here – and even more, especially on contracts, here.

*Do not be offended if I do not accept your friend request on Facebook. I may be old fashioned, but I keep my personal account  for family and friends – which means people I have met, interacted with, liked, and deal in person often. Having an item made does not make you a friend – yet. Over the time if we meet often enough and find we like each other that may change, (and often does), but since we are starting from a professional footing, simply keep in touch through my page until such a time comes when we may change the status quo.

*also – I do not offer a free advise/tuition/consultation service via fb or email. We do provide the service if needs be, but it is a hourly paid job.  At the moment, if I was to answer every message/ email asking me for advice, opinion, etc   i would probably not have time to do anything at all   – we get about 10-120 on avarage. Per day. So nothing personal, but I cannot help you unless you book us in advance for a specific thing, billable by the hour… and the fact that you masquarade your request for help/ free advice its by putting a few sentences about how much you admire my work, does not really change it. Sorry!

  • my Youtube channel visitors… 80% of your messages and questions is answered in the credits of the video. Watch them, please, before asking. I am happy to answer more in depth/ interesting questions, but if you wish to know where I get the cotumes from (sic!) or my shoes from, all the information, with the liks is in the credits at the end. Also, google…..
  •  also youtube – please don’t write to me demand that I make  videos on a topic/ era you would like to see. I am happy to take commissions for videos on demand, but they won’t be cheap – research, making specific clothes,  shooting the video, editing etc – it will take several months and will cost around 2-4k ( GBP). I make the videos  you can watch for free, using stuff I have available to me at the moment. If you want me to spend more time doing that, do click on a few adverts – takes a few seconds but makes a difference to my revenue! ( since monetising my videos, I have become more aware of how many people out there rely on their online revenue, so i do click on stuff as well, helping other online artists:-)

St Neots WWI Comemorative July 2014-13

Fittings/home visits.

Dear customer, when you are coming to me for a fitting, please remember that I work  from a small studio, with basic facilities, and not desgned for hosting guests.  And so, please:

*Do tell me how many people are coming along – unless otherwise specified I expect only you. I need to know if there are more people as there are problems of space as well my personal issues. To me, the sudden invasion of 5 people when I was expecting 1 is just like a punch to the face. Suddenly instead of the controlled, serene environment  I am used to working in, the situation is changed into chaos, when everybody is everywhere, all talking very politely no doubt, but nevertheless very distracting. I do need to concentrate when I am fitting toiles, taking measurements and discussing designs with the client. Loud chatter, however amicable, is not helping.

*Ditto children –  my studio is not at all child friendly – there are lots of sharp objects around, lots of antique stuff, expensive silks-  so unless you can keep your offspring under control (which means another person to do so while you are busy working with me), preserving any Health and Safety rules will cetainly be tricky – in which case I would have to decline the commission.  Please let me know beforehand so that we can come up with appropriate solution to the situation.

*Do not ‘pop by’  without an appointment. Not only may I not be in, but I may be busy, either working on urgent stuff or working with another customer, (who may be in a state of dishabille), so I would have to turn you away from the door. Again, nothing personal, but it may feel like rejection, so please always ask when is a good time if you need to see me in person.

*Try not to be late.  I usually have 2, 3 appointments on any fitting day, usually, for efficiency’s sake, one after another. If you arrive late, it may impact on another appointment, so please call to let me know if you are running late. If you want me to put aside a whole day, or afternoon just for you, that is fine – but my time comes at a cost. You don’t pop round to your lawyer, doctor or dentist more or less at the time that suits you, so please extend me the same courtesy; working from home doesn’t mean that I am any less busy!

* don’t expect me to work on holidays/ weekends. I often do, and I do suggest weekends to my customers who cannot make it otherwise,  but please  remember, that  our line of work means we are usually away at the weekend.  So if your contract says  that the fittings will take place, as agreed, in the beginning of a month, please make sure you are available. We can adapt – but all summer we are away weekends, working at events, so if you forget to book a day off it may be another month or more before we have a weekend at home!



  • please understand that we  usually cannot come over to you for fittings. Unless  previously agreed on and arranged it is smply not possible as I will need to carry my tools with me ( and believe me, the machiness are not light) and there will be additional charge for travel cost and time used.
  • Don’t be offended when  I cannot offer you your drink of choice or other refreshments. Being a small studio room, it has basic facilities – there is a a look and a tiny kitchenette where I keep  stuff i use for myself – fruit teas, coffee etc. I don’t use milk or sugar, I don’t keep biscuits around – so i wont be able to offer anything else I already have.
  • Ditto wifi –  I opted out of wifi at work to limit procrastination – so don’t be surprised whn I cannot provide you with a free wifi access for the duration of your visit…

At markets

*I am always delighted when people who follow me on social media come to have a chat at the markets. However, please remember that  unless you comment/like/interact with the page, I will not know your name. And even if I do, I may not recognize you, if your profile picture features a fluffy kitten or happy puppy.  Please introduce yourself and then everything will be fine – I know who I am talking to and will try to remember for the future 🙂

*Also, the mere fact that you follow me on facebookPA/twitter/ insta, etc, does not make you eligible for a discount at the stall…. or in the online shop. Sorry…

* Please remember that at markets,  I am working. You may be visiting for your leisure or for business – though for majority of people the former is the case.  You may want to come and have a good time, chat and exchange experiences tips etc – it is all fine, but , as I said, I am at work and need to treat everybody the same – which generally leaves very little time for idle chatting, am afraid. There are a few relaxed moments but usually the markets we attend tend to be heaving with public, and we have little time for lunch, let alone relaxed talk. So however much I might love to do so, I need to earn my living and serve paying customers instead 😦

Talking of lunch – please, let the stall holders have their lunch in peace! Trying to answer your questions with a mouth full of bagel is not a nice experience for anyone! We usually have one of us or a helper to front the shop when one person is eating – but people still manage to dodge them and sneak in at the back of the stall to talk to the person who is currently enjoying their lunch.

*Do not ask me to work for free.  Whatever tips and advice on costuming I can give I will, and a great deal of information is on the blog here anyway, but do not ask me to provide an ad hoc workshop/lecture for your benefit, for free. This happens quite a lot – a recent one was in Bath, during the market there; let me quote it for you..

-Two women were spending quite some time looking at the stays/corsets and other items, and by looking I mean taking off the hangers, turning upside down, inside out etc. After about 5 minutes of them discussing how the things go together (and meanwhile blocking access for other interested customers) I asked politely if there was anything I could help them with. The answer was:
Yeah, actually, we make stuff like that ourselves, for us and sometimes for sale, and we tried these styles before and they didn’t really work well, so we are just trying to work out the construction details – could you please explain to us how you put these together? Oh and these ones too? (at that point one of them took a notebook and a pencil out).
I looked at her and asked – ‘What do you do for a living madam?
‘Why, I teach the flute’.
‘Could you please explain to me how you play the flute? Could you teach me now, just the basics?
She looked at me, completely taken aback.
‘Why, well, I could, but I charge for my lessons!
My response? ‘So do I’….

She actually saw the point and was rather embarrassed, and apologized, but it sort of sums up the fact that a lot of people do not take what I do for a living seriously and assume it is ‘just ‘ a hobby – I suppose other people running craft or art based businesses are often faced by a similar situation.


*Another point – you don’t generally go to let’s say, a baker, or a carpenter, have a look around, finger the goods, sneer and announce that you can do it better than they, and/or possibly cheaper. So please refrain from doing it to stallholders at the markets.  Even if you indeed, can make the items better and at a lesser cost. Just incredibly rude.

*please ask before touching the clothing. And make sure your children are under control – especially if they are eating at the time – we did have a few mishaps involving children, dogs, icecream or a burger….

And finally, some interactions from the online shop.

To start with, let me quote some of the messages/emails directly

* am interested in the blue dress, but it is not my size, can you re-model it so that is 3 sizes bigger?
* am interested in the blue riding habit, I clicked on the link but it takes me to the shop based in the UK. Can you please post the link to your USA branch? Otherwise I would be unable to purchase as shipping and customs duty are expensive.
* am interested in the grey skirt, i clicked on the link to the shop but it gives price in pounds. Why is there no Euro? I don’t like working out the conversion rates myself.
* are the measurements American? How many centimeters in an inch?
* I like your corsets! I want one but in different colour, and in my size – can you make me one for this Saturday? Would the price be the same?
* I love the pink Victorian gown in silk, but is too expensive! I can spend max £150 on a thing like that, would you consider selling it for £150 (postage included), or making me a bespoke one for that price?
* the riding habits are lovely, but why are there only 2 available? and why not in a range of sizes, and colours?
* am interested in the medieval Burgundian gown, but can purchase it in July only – can you keep it for me? I am not saying I will buy it, just considering and would like to know it is still available in July.
* I want a bespoke one, when are you able to make me one? (my answer – am now booked till October) – whaaaatttt!!!! October??? this is ridiculous, I need one for June! how can you run a business like that! Can you not shift other people so that mine can be made first?


Here I feel  the very fact that  we have an online shop may be put to blame – people simply assume that we are a much bigger business than we are – and flattering as that may be, it often causes  awkward situations.

Also, people assume that our ideology is the same as that of big chain stores and find it difficult to understand that we do not carry a huge stock of the same items in a range of colours and sizes.  Our field is quite  narrow, and I like to think that I specialise in unique and individual items – so our  stock items, though usually in ‘generic’ sizes are still unique. I have no desire to create the same dress in 6 different sizes and 3 different colours – this would not only kill the joy of making an individual item to me, but poses a question of stock control, space, cost, etc. We are a small business, and I have no particular desire to grow into a huge one. Might happen – might not. At the moment I take pleasure in making items unique – even our stock corsets have individual touches that make them unique. Nowadays,  many people are motivated by finance alone – and whereas, as a business you have to be, to some extent, I am in the happy situation where I can make what I want to make and enjoy it – and I treasure the enjoyment coming from creating one specific item much higher than profits coming from mass producing shirts.

And as for being booked well ahead – well,  we often are booked for more than 6 months in advance. Asking me to move other clients around so that your stuff can be made earlier is not only disrespectful to me but to other clients as well – imagine that it is the the other folks who are asking me to shift you around…. just not professional. And it doesn’t mater if you are a Russian princess,  a celebrity, local theater, or an individual  – once the contract is signed,  your order is treated in exactly the same way as everybody else’s.  Full equality.


Regency Stock April 2015-6

Well, that’s about it, I think – a bit of a rant, maybe, but as I have said, a lot of the problems stems from misunderstanding of the industry, and not malice. I do not wish to offend anyone and I think there are few people who go out of their way to offend others, especially if they want to develop a professional relationship, so I think maybe this post help both parts to understand each other a bit better.

And if you run a home/craft based business and you have experiences similar situations, or have something to add – please comment!

Green Stripes Beach and Bandstand (35)


41 thoughts on “Dear customer….

  1. I think some people have been totally spoiled by the ‘Amazon Experience’ they think all Web based businesses are run like that and are truly gobsmacked when they find out we are not

  2. Pfew. Luckily I didn’t made the list with my quote questions 😛 Unfortunatly, people do forget that they are dealing with a real human being at the other end of their computerscreen.

  3. Your quotes from the online shop made me chuckle in a good way because those are the types of emails I get from high school students about why something isn’t graded fast enough or how I can give them a higher grade. I have 160 students and none of the 8 hrs of my day are actually spent grading. That all happens after hours, behind the scenes people. I finally set about teaching email etiquette and I think they got the point when they saw the types of really rude emails I had received in the past. So I’m really glad you wrote about this and I hope more people start to get it. Just be respectful of people’s space and time and profession. The world may be a happier place.

  4. I experienced some of this an an equine photographer. Part of it was ignorance of what it takes to shoot a dressage show, part of it was an approach that I still find baffling. I remember being told to put up with one particularly rude competitor at a show because — hushed tones — “He’s a lawyer!” Well, so am I. I had fun with that one. It is undeniable, though, that I receive very different treatment as an event photographer, usually from the least talented riders. I believe there is a correlation.

  5. I don’t run any kind of business but I do sew (as a hobby and I also study costume interpretation at university) and it’s widely understood among my friends and acquaintances that I’m happy to help but there have been some people recently that just take it too far.
    One guy that I’ve only met twice attempted to butter me up by patronisingly offering help with drafting an email and then a day later asked for advice on making a complex jacket. When I told him it wasn’t really something that could be explained via facebook he said ‘Wanna come over and help then?’. When I told him no and that I’d charge for my time he back peddled so quickly it was almost funny.

  6. Oh, I so agree with your post!!! I have had the same experiences as a dressmaker and costumier working from home. It is so frustrating. Once I had seven people arrive for the fitting of just one of them. They were awful, and so badly behaved. I had to lay down the law quite strongly, which felt horrible. And then there was the gentleman who thought it was perfectly fine to turn up on my doorstep, unannounced, at 7.30 am. And the one who had the nerve to ask me what my day job was, while standing in a room full of my sewing work. *sigh* Sometimes I find it extremely disheartening.
    Conversely, I have clients who are amazing. Wonderful people who I love spending time with and would do pretty much anything for. I have made so many good friends from people who started out as clients. It is because of those people, and the lovely garments I get to create, that I love what I do so much.
    The less pleasant situations you describe are definitely universal among the creative arts, at least. Friends and colleagues of mine all have similar stories to tell. I’m reasonably sure you know this already, but you are not alone in your frustrations 😀
    Thank you for writing this. I will be sharing it as educational material for the good of the creative community!

  7. ::stands up and applauds:: Hear, hear! I make my living as a designer/seamstress. I have worked as a professional seamstress for 35+ years and have run into each and everyone of these. I don’t sell online and I do all custom work. The reputation I have is “well, Susi’s really good, but she’s awfully expensive” which what my clients tell me is said about me; the same clients who come back to me year after year to make their costumes. And when I got too busy recently, I raised my prices. I’m still really busy. What I tell them to say back (and they do!) is that “you get what you pay for”!

    Then there’s the occasional expectation of (as promoted, unfortunately, by some management of the local faire) that cast members can book my time way ahead, but not get me the materials until the last minute, and then I will bust my butt to finish by the deadline and then they can pick it up and wear it for their PR event without paying me? Um, no. This happens even though, by contract, I tell them that nothing leaves my shop without being paid for in full. You don’t go to WalMart and expect to take merchandise out without paying for it, do you?

  8. I used to knit and sell little owl doorsteps and if I had a penny for every time someone demanded the pattern off me so they could knit their own and not pay my prices I’d be able to retire! Now I don’t make them as much instead I write about sewing my own clothes, but I did recently have someone ask me to alter their entire wardrobe because they have lost weight and can’t afford new clothes. And would I do it for free? Because we are friends? Not spoken to each other in five years but sure yeah we are besties!!!

  9. I used to run a small fetish clothing / corset business and I can relate to all the things you mention in your post.
    The thing that got me most upset was the fact that a lot of people just assumed that since I was working with something I actually enjoyed doing, it was just a hobby.
    And since I was just “having fun”, It was OK to ask me for patterns of my goods (neglecting the fact that it took me lot of hard work to perfecting them), try to haggle my prices (that was already so low I could afford and still get by) and generally just expect me to take on tasks like “can you change the zipper in my jeans for free” and such.

    Those experiences has made me very humble when interacting with fellow costume/clothing makers still in business. I’m very grateful when people share their knowledge and interact with me on their precious free time.


  10. Totally with you on everything you’ve said. I used to design and make wedding dresses full-time from home, and despite everything would regularly get clients turning up with an extended family troupe. One bride’s family even sat down in my workroom, among all the fabrics, to eat their lunch – strong words were said about that, you may be sure. And at wedding fairs I often was asked to tell someone how a dress was made, usually because a family member was ‘making the bridesmaid dresses’ and didn’t know how to go about it. When it was pointed out that I charge for my time and any tutorial work, this was met with blank looks.

  11. I just wanted to wish a quick ‘thank you’ from one costumer to another. What you have said here is on point with what most of us face as a business. Please keep up the wonderful and professional work that you do!


  12. Your experience highlights why I have no desire to make my hobby into my business. The few times I have sewn for clients, the clients were so rude and cheap that it was just not worth it. Sorry you have experienced the same!

  13. A beautifully written article. All the trademen/women working in this mass produced world encounter these issues. While your elegant, delicately phrased ‘rant’ may not reach the hoi polloi it certainly stands as a reminder to those that should be in the know, but too often aren’t.

  14. Why is it the minority spoil it. Your work is beautiful. One day, when I stop teaching I might have a go at my own craft business. Unfortunately it’s that small minority that puts me off. Why do people expect you to make things for less than the materials cost? & don’t get me started on ‘pet’ names, my in-laws call me love & duck all the time I hate it. I ignore most people who use such names, it’s amazing how they can suddenly remember your name.
    Glad you brought these points up.

    • thank you ! :-)Also -i don’t think the minority spoil it at all – rather I suppose they make ma appreciate the rest of my lovely clients more. If you want to set up your business, do not let thing like that deter you – every job will have a drawback, and this particular one is really a minor nuisance!

  15. A wonderful article. My major peeve is when a potential client contacts me and the email/message is informal to the point that can barely understand it. “…u sew?? Like can u make me dis costume 4 halloween???? Let me nooooooww ” Needless to say I refused to take on the author of this charming request as a client. If you are contacting me about sewing for you then it is a business transaction and should be treated as such! Anyway, love your blog! Greetings from Florida!

  16. When the (potential) client is interested in something I sell and his partner (friend, wife, husband – the person he’s with at the stall) says “It’s soooo expensive! Don’t buy it, I will make it for you *looking at me* – FOR FREE!”. Usually I smile and say “Go on, have fun” but my insides are screaming with rage…
    Greetings from Belgium! 🙂

  17. Great post, and nicely written – no ranting just a dignified response.

    I work in an unrelated field, but like you, 90% of my customers are wonderful but there is still that 10% who are, quite frankly, vile. I have come to the conclusion that some people are just unhappy and look for something to vent that unhappiness upon.
    What makes me frustrated is that when I have been upset by someone it takes days to work it out of my system – the conclusion is that there is nothing I can do!

  18. A fellow studio holder (at the place where my first studio was), a weaver, summed up the whole market thing perfectly as she went off to her stall at a craft fair one day.

    “Keep smiling, no matter how offensive they [the public] might be.”


  19. You forgot the fuzzy photo taken on a phone (of something that could be almost anything) with “can you make me this for Saturday?”. Oh, and in response to a quote, “but you work from home, you don’t have any overheads”. Oh yes, I’ve had both of those and my responses were polite, albeit through very gritted teeth.

    • What business is it of hers how you set your prices? My husband is about to retire after years of running his own HVAC busisness. He quite a few bars/pubs as clients. Sometimes the owner of the pub would say “Why are you charging me so much? You only added a little freon to cooler?” My husband pointed to a bottle of scotch behind the bar and said “Murray, how much do you pay for a bottle? And how much do you charge me for a shot?”

  20. I run a small costume shop, and while I don’t do commission work very often occasionally I will get crazy requests online through social media or email. The one that made me cringe the most was this one:

    Links a dress from and then says the following:

    “Hi, I love the dress above but I can’t afford their prices, can you get the dress made in my measurements and then rent it to me for less than $100? I’m a 3X usually, and then you’ll have it to rent for other people!”

    While the dresses from Fireflypathbridal are exquisite and I would love to own one, they are also very expensive. The one she linked me probably cost somewhere around $15,000 or more to make, and additional costs would have been added for her size, which from photos and knowing sizing in costumes she was probably closer to a 6X. There was no way I was going to order a dress that this lady was probably going to wear as a wedding dress and then try to rent it to others. When I stated as such, she commented:
    “Well, could you make the dress for me then? I can only afford up to $100.”
    I asked her what her actual measurements were and she didn’t know. I told her she could come to my store and we could talk about it, but I certainly couldn’t do a ballgown for less than $1000, much less $100. She never commented back.

    I get asked all the time why we don’t rent wedding dresses too. (That is a thing??? Really??) We also get calls from churches and non-profits that ask us to give them costumes or rentals for free “For a tax break!” or “But its for a good cause!” Good causes don’t pay my bills or feed me…

    I could probably go on and on. Online businesses are killing us too. Its a never ending tirade of “I can get this online for cheaper!” and I want to rip my hair out because of it. But hey, fight the good fight, keep promoting good costumes and the good customers come! I have a lot of great customers, and they keep me going. I try to give excellent customer service and I think that will always beat slightly lower prices. (Especially when online bagged costumes can be such varying quality)

    Love your stuff, and your blog! Thank you for being awesome!

  21. If it will make you feel better, people act the same way for more commercialized skills, too. I’m an Accountant and people want me to “just look at” their taxes (i.e. DO them) for free. My husband is in I.T. and when friends call with computer issues, he’s very happy to suggest that it might be this problem and where to find the part. But inevitably, they ask, “Could you swing by and do it?” Answer: “Yes, I charge $75/hour. I can schedule you two days from now.” And now HE is supposedly the jerk.

  22. Oh my goodness! I wish I could copy this blog post and just send it to “those” clients! I have often wondered if it was perhaps just “ME!” – As if perhaps I was suffering some karmetic blow-back and that was why I attract crazy, rude, entitled clients? LOL! 90% of my clients are a dream, but it takes that ONE client to make me question WHY I kill myself sometimes for my art! – Working until my back is sore and my fingers are literally stiff. I silently cheered with each issue you enumerated. I honestly feel better knowing that I’m not alone! I so feel your pain! I truly do! It amazes me how oblivious some clients can be. I spend hours upon hours consulting with prospective clients. You may be familiar with this one: “How much is this gown? What will it cost if I order these sleeves instead of the ones pictured, and in a different color? Can you make a sketch so I can see what it would look like?” Then I spend hours responding, working up a sketch, running numbers for an estimate, only for them to ask the same questions about an entirely different ensemble – or several different ensembles. They don’t seem to have any understanding that their “window shopping” takes actual time away production for clients who have already paid me. When I finally grow weary – having used up an entire day working up estimates for six different gowns, and I politely ask them when or IF they were actually looking to place an order they say – “Oh, I was just curious, I can’t afford it right now.” That really burns my onion! My schedule is booked out a year in advance most of the time! My second pet peeve: Brides who want a historically themed gown or a men’s ensemble for their wedding and they have waited until 2 months before the blessed event! When I tell them they need to allow a year to get on my schedule they get angry with ME because now I’ve ruined their wedding! I sometimes want to add this blurb to all my listings: “Your procrastination and lack of planning does not automatically become my 911 (emergency)”

    Thank you for your excellence in this craft and for bringing awareness and speaking for all of us artists who design and create bespoke clothing. Best regards to you!

    Designs From Time

  23. Very nicely done. I too have about 10% who take advantage of the kindness I try and share as a small business and not a hobbyist. It can be difficult to keep your cool when they ask for irrational things and assume we are the ones being difficult. Be blessed. keep on.

  24. Oh, I know these well, though not all of them I have experienced, I do recognize them. Even as a side line of sewing in college, “I think the prices for this style of dress is way to expensive to buy in the store, how much will it cost you to make me one? That much! But my grandmother would make me this for free.” Can you sew me a Chanel Jacket?… What?!?, at that price I can just go buy a real Chanel Jacket?” (No, you cant even buy used ones for that price…I was still working at nice consignment shop at the time.) “Hi, I am pregnant and I cant find any clothes patterns that I like, how much for you to tech me how to make my own patterns?”

    We should all shout this from the roof tops!

  25. I run a patchwork and craft shop and we get many similar things either people wanting and hour of time for a knitting pattern they bought at hobbycraft, advice on fabrics so they can buy them on amazon, asking for discounts when they’ve bought three threads or just being downright dismissive ‘It must be nice to sit and sew all day’ etc. I don’t think people will ever take us seriously but i do with I could get away with writing something like this and posting it on the wall.

  26. Nicely put, Izabela!
    I don’t think my sewing skills will ever rival yours, but as a dance teacher I have to be able to alter stage wear. Apparently it’s also part of my job to sew elastics and ribbons on my students’ shoes: who knew?! I either charge them (what?!) or have to run workshops with the parents and older students in order to reach them how to do basic running stitch to attach shoe elastic. There is a lady in our town who charges to sew elastics on ballet shoes – she’s an alterations lady, so it’s ok for her to charge, but not me. Sigh.

  27. I’m an introverted professional genealogist and can empathize with your feelings about the rude or uninformed 10%. It would be very hard for me to keep from seething inside every time I encountered some of what you have endured. As with sewing, genealogy is often looked upon as a hobby as well. Although I love the challenge of research and would do it all the time almost regardless of remuneration, I do have to charge. And research doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it always produce positive results. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

  28. Oh my gosh! The best piece I have ever read on this subject! I relate to all of it, and I am a costumer, so I encounter this sort of thing quite often. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to post this!

  29. Beautifully said as always Izabella. What you make is truly unique and should be treated with respect. There are plenty of other people who are happy to make ‘costumes’ without the detail and historical accuracy you imbue in your garments. Good luck with all your work and I look forward to the Victorian ball in Bath for next year.

  30. *applauds* Well said. Thank you for your time pulling this together and how eloquently it is presented. Often when I show people examples of professional work that I aspire to (and that inspires me), they’re like “oh, that’s gorgeous – but why is it so expensive? You could make something like that for me for less, right?” They are surprised when I say “definitely not.” I am only a hobbyist (pretty basic skill set and results), but I love crafting garments, and I sew everything by hand (machines and I just don’t get along)… They don’t get that good fabric is good fabric (even with clearance and coupons), and that the skills to do professional level work come from – (they gasp) – professional time and dedication, equivalent to a Ph.D degree.

    Their most common reason for why I should sew for free for them is because “you like sewing so much and I could never do that but that dress would be perfect for an event in a couple weeks”… Really? So since they like cooking so much, they should cook me a three-course gourmet meal with filet mignon and organic hand-pressed imported cheese, from scratch, just like something I saw in Cook’s magazine or at the table of a five-star restaurant – oh, and without my reimbursing you for ingredients and you have to do this tomorrow night.

    Even what I make is not a batch of box mix brownies, and what professionals make should be treated as the wearable, unique art it truly is. I’m glad that most of your clients do appreciate your skill and the beauty you create!

  31. I run a small vintage business, and it’s the same thing–90% of my customers are wonderful. The remaining 10% are a mix of incredibly frustrating (“Oh, this doesn’t have a price on it so it must be free! Ha ha!” “Yeah, well, your car doesn’t have a price on it either; do you mind if I just take it?”) or just really bewildering. I had a lady once pick out a vintage dress and ask if I could get it in a different size for her. So that was a little education day for her!

    I think part of the constant “I could get this cheaper…” mentality comes, especially in America, because so much of our clothing is probably made in sweatshops. Sure, you can find a $10 t shirt if you don’t mind paying the worker 30 cents an hour. Sometimes when people pick up something handmade, like an old doily or a crocheted wrap or sweater, they’ll comment on the price. And then I reply with, “Well you know, you could always make it yourself. It should only take about XX hours or so.” 😀 That usually makes them think twice.

  32. Thanks for posting this! Puts in plain English what I have been struggling to express.

    I have a similar problem with my shop front as you have with your online shop. People assume having a proper ‘business location’ be it physical or virtual means you operate like a high street store. I’ve had to ban a customer after they started ringing at 7.30am and didn’t stop til 10pm despite knowing my opening hours, and regularly have people insist on getting my attention on days the shop is shut because I’m in the workshop and therefore must be open (latest culprit decided it was acceptable to ‘Just’ drop off trousers on a closed day because he could phone me the following day to tell me what to do with them)

    But as you say 90% of customers are lovely. It’s a shame 10% aren’t and about half of those demand far more effort than they’re due.

  33. THANK. YOU. My greatest fear in life is offending people and this is very helpful. Hopefully I’ll be able to purchase some things from your shop after I’m off of a student budget. Love from the USA

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