Desperately Seeking Advice

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The White Rabbit
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Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby The White Rabbit » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:56 pm

Hello All

I have been reading a post that gave advice to a new trader and I was wondering if I might be able to get some advice too. I graduated last July from a costume making course and I have a passion for what I call historical dressmaking. I make accurate replica dress and I try to keep it as close to original dress as possible, from patterns to finishing techniques. I have made garments for museums and have had some commissions and ideally I would like to try and make for the living history world.

I am not a re-enactor and although last year I went to TORM and TILHF I have never been to any fairs or markets. I really don't know where to start and I feel completely lost as to how I can break into the re-enactor world. I am currently trying to set up a website, an online portfolio, but I would also love to set up my own business specialising in historically accurate, mainly linen, undergarments (I really enjoy making shirts!) from all periods.

As you have probably guessed I am a complete novice! How can I find out about fairs and markets? Where can i advertise? Are the set up costs horrendous? What else do I need to know? I would be so grateful if anyone has any advice at all as to how I can go about all of this.

Many Thanks

Alice



Dilligaf
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby Dilligaf » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:24 pm

Hi Alice, I have only been trading for a few seasons and at first it did seem daunting. There are plenty of good people on this forum that will set you in the right direction. My advice is to get on the circuit with a couple of well known events namely TORM, ILHF or tewkesbury to get your name known. This will give you an idea of how things might go. I'm sure other's on here will help.

Brian


So much mead so little time!

www.dilligafbedsnboxes.co.uk

Graham Cooley
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby Graham Cooley » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Alice,

Where abouts in the Country are you? You will probably find it useful to talk to a couple of different groups in additon to visiting some events.

There are lots of different types of groups and periods across the country. They all have varying degrees of authenticity but in general they have all been improving the quality of their kit and costume over recent years.

You need to understand your market hence the suggestion that you talk to some groups. For example the Sealed Knot (English Civil War) has several thousand members and traditionally has not been as authentic as some of the other smaller groups. (There has always been a variety within the society from those who just wear stuff that looks OK from 200 yrds to those who hand sew everything and get it as accurate as possible) However, at least one person has recently set up making costume aimed specifically at the Cvil War and at the ILHF they were very well received and very busy because they were providing quality at a good price.

You may also find it will take a little while for people to get to know you.

We primarily do English Civil War and feel free to PM me with any queries.

Graham



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sally
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby sally » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:23 pm

Regarding set up costs, the big essential is public and product liability insurance. Most events these days require you to have £5 million cover, and you have several options. If you only ever sell at fairs, get trading insurance from the NMTF, its cheap, and there are loads of historic traders with them. Teh downside is they won't cover online sales, so if you intend selling through a website as well they may be a false economy. I use a 'craftsman' insurance policy which covers me for teaching and online sales as well as trading, for me thats the most flexible, but check around.

You will want a traders tent if you plan on joining the show circuit, I made my first one and it did me several years, though it wasnt pretty, I've just upgraded to an entry level sort of off the peg one which ost me £500. They an be very expensive if you want something large and flashy, but probably budget about 500 and you shoud have a choice.

You'll need transport to and from events, some people hire nice reliable vans as they need them, lots of us drive elderly rustbuckets held together with knitting and gaffa tape. Take your pick 8-) If its the second one, get a decent breakdown cover that will cover you when trading.

Other than that, its just display material and the necessaries to sleep in the tent or van, and away you go. Expect to pay pitch fees in advance, and be prepared for some events being very weather dependant, some shows every year will be a washout, so factor that into your yearly business plan.



The White Rabbit
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby The White Rabbit » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:47 pm

Thank you so much for all of your advice. I shall definately have a look into the main fairs to begin with, they are inside so that would save on a tent! Also ta for the advice on insurance, that's the sort of stuff I really don't know about!

I'm based in North London, not sure about any groups in london apart from I've heard tale of an 80s riot group! I do have a couple of re-enactor friends, one in The Sealed Knot and another at Kentwell, who have helped me with some information and ideas. Although the main theme is that re-enactors don't have much money!

I only found this forum today and you are all so supportive and friendly, thank you.

Alice



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Miss Costello
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby Miss Costello » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:47 pm

I think you've got to really know your market, there's a real gap in the market for good (good sized) WW2 era clothing that isn't pin up inspired, good simple suits and day dresses in good fabric.
Why not come along to an event and canvas for work, make a couple of samples, source some good fabric. Start small.

K



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sally
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby sally » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:02 pm

The White Rabbit wrote:Although the main theme is that re-enactors don't have much money!



Yes, but, and its a really big but, the really good re-enactors know exactly how much work goes into really good kit and are prepared to save up and invest heavily in it. If you can providewell researched good in the right quality at a realistic price for the work involved, you'll get customers.



The White Rabbit
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby The White Rabbit » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:06 pm

That sounds promising, thanks for the reassurance. All I want to do is make beautiful things and I was starting to worry that it wasn't going to happen because nobody would pay for it!

Also, is there any site that details the fairs aorund the country? I've tried internet searches but I only come up with TORM etc. and I'd quite like to go to others to see the set up and layout etc.

Alice



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The Iron Dwarf
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby The Iron Dwarf » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:18 pm

events are organized by many different people / businesses so find a few of the websites here in the events section to see what was on last year and check to see if it is on this year.
like plantagenat events who do berkeley, tatton and lincoln.
paste who do ILHF and napoleonic stuff and many more
visit a few events to see what it is like and go in costume as a walking advert for your work.

indoor markets have some advantages but so do other events that are outdoor.
pitch fees vary and so does need to be authentic, and each event is different.
look at how others manage to display goods in a tent and the different types of tent and at the end of an event if you can watch some being taken down to see how hard that is and how much room they take up and how heavy they are before buying one.
ask here for advice rather than jumping in and buying the wrong stuff.



The White Rabbit
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby The White Rabbit » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:21 pm

I think that going to events dressed up in something I've made is a great idea! Thanks! If I were to do this and hand out my details etc. would I need to get permission from the organisers?

Thanks again



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KeithFarrell
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby KeithFarrell » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:49 pm

The White Rabbit wrote:I am currently trying to set up a website, an online portfolio, but I would also love to set up my own business specialising in historically accurate, mainly linen, undergarments (I really enjoy making shirts!) from all periods.


We would be more than happy to discuss with you what we can do to help with the website and online presence for your company, and we can also point you towards some useful sources for advice for setting up a business. Also, we might be able to help drive some business and customers your way. If you send me a PM I will happily give you my email address so that we can discuss the matter further :-)

Some examples of websites that we have made for the different parts of our own organisation:

http://www.triquetra-services.org - our overall organisation
http://www.corsairs-wares.com - our online shops and e-commerce division
http://www.chivalric-systems.co.uk - our IT division
http://www.historical-academy.co.uk - our educational division


-- Keith Farrell --
Academy of Historical Arts: website | Facebook
Fallen Rook Publishing: website | Facebook
KeithFarrell.net: website

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Treaty Money
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Re: Desperately Seeking Advice

Postby Treaty Money » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:24 pm

Yes, but, and its a really big but, the really good re-enactors know exactly how much work goes into really good kit and are prepared to save up and invest heavily in it. If you can provide well researched good in the right quality at a realistic price for the work involved, you'll get customers.


Absolutely... I only make heavily researched examples of my work and I ended up moving house to reduce my overheads so that I could pass on the savings to my clients. That being said - I work with a weaver who weaves cloth to order in short run work based upon archaeological examples. It isn't cheap and a Roman officers cloak in the correct weave and correct stitch type will cost around £150 - but its not beyond the reach of most people ...

Remember that the costs of raw materials and stock is going up all the time. Wool yarn for example is currently increasing in price by about 10-15% every three mths!! - plan ahead of time if you want to sell stock items at markets - some suppliers take weeks to get things to you...


Claire Marshall - Archaeologist, Musician, Archaeological Textiles researcher

www.plateau-imprints.co.uk

http://york.academia.edu/ClaireMarshall


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