Pirate flame cowboy hat & braMany of our customers have never commissioned a costume or artwork before and it makes them a little nervous. I thought it might be helpful to outline the steps that a prospective customer and I go through when placing and making a custom order. Communication is key.

1. Ideas and discussion
It starts with an email or a PM on a social media site. Let’s say Ms. M shares an idea, with a reference image or two, and asks if we could make something like it. She wants to know how much it would be and how long it will take to make.

If I have enough information I will give her an estimate in cost and completion time right away. Sometimes I have to clarify some aspects of the inquiry first, either on a practical level or, more fun for me, a conceptual one. We brainstorm together: What kind of feeling do you want it to have? What about adding a Victorian cameo to that? How will your cape attach to the pauldons?

Once it’s decided and written down, the completion time estimate is good for about a week (scheduling changes fast around here). The quoted price is good for 6 months.

2. Placing the order
Ms. M then officially places the order by putting down a 25% deposit via Paypal. The order does not get put into the production schedule until then. If it takes her three weeks to make the deposit, she will not get the same ship date estimate she was first given.

Sometimes people want us to make sketches before they commit to the order and we’ve learned the hard way not to do that. The word sketch sounds like something you can do quickly but that is not the case. It can take many hours to work up the roughest of sketches, because we must study the reference images and discuss construction techniques.

I appreciate that it’s a leap of faith on your part to trust us with your vision and your money, but we have enough of a portfolio that you can see what we are capable of.

3. Scheduling and confirming details
So we schedule the work on Ms M’s project. We ask her a bunch of questions about measurements and color and dates and addresses and enter all the relevant info into our fabulous Podio workspace and our Google Calendar.

4. Payment plans
After making the deposit, Ms. M asks if she can break up the payments into once every month, so there isn’t a big chunk due at the end. We discuss the amounts and timing and I send her a series of numbered Paypal invoices that she can pay as she is able (Paypal’s Bill Me Later program is also an option). We have done all kinds of payment plans so don’t be afraid to ask about that.

5. Work in Progress
We keep in touch with Ms. M on our progress. A week to two weeks before the ship date we send her an update with some in-process photos. A few days before the ship date we send another update and the final invoice which includes the shipping costs.

august plans6. Completion and shipping
When the order is complete, we send her the final photos. Some people wait to see these before paying the last payment. Ms. M pays her last invoice and we carefully pack up her order. Once it is shipped we email her the tracking and any customs info.

We stay in touch until she receives it to make sure she is satisfied with the work. 99% of the time our customers are super happy with their piece. Once in a while there is a color or size issue and we do our best to resolve it quickly.

So there you go. Six steps to manifesting your creative costuming vision with custom made Organic Armor.

Over the several months of communicating through these steps I feel like I get to know our customers a little bit. It’s one of my favorite parts of this job.  What a uniquely creative, kind and patient bunch you are!

BTW, we are already scheduling end of summer custom order production! Contact us soooooon if you want something custom made for that time.