The End of an Era

After 11 years, I’ve decided to close the Three Muses website. I will continue to make costumes when I can, but under my own name or @CandyKcosplay (Facebook, Etsy, eBay, Twitter, Instagram)

I am so very ready to close the retail biz! It was a great run but I am ready to move on and am really excited to get a break from the 24/7 world of running a busy e-commerce site (and boutique as well).

I am leaving this blog up but probably won’t be adding new posts. I am mostly concentrating on my Geek Mamas project and posting there. You can also find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/CandyKcosplay

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The biggest inspiration in the smallest package

This has been weighing on my mind for some time now and I feel like if don’t say something I’ll explode.

Three Muses the boutique is closing after Halloween.

You know how everyone tells you your life will change when you have kids? Well it’s not just your life, it’s how you feel about life and what you want to do with it. I’ve been growing this business for 10 years now and it is scary to take a step back. But I have plans and it’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.

My lease is up in April and after that I will be moving to a smaller workshop space so I can keep doing my crafty thing when I want and not worry about running a store. It will pretty much be business as usual up until Halloween. After that I’ll be having big sales to sell off leftover inventory. I will NOT be restocking so if you’ve been eyeing something for a while, better get it now!

So what’s my next step? I’ve already reserved GeekMamas.com, opening some time 2016. More details on that as they develop, but I’m in no hurry to launch a new business right now. I just needed to set myself a new goal and vision that is more in line with where I am in life right now and where I want to go.

I’m very much looking forward to embracing life as a mom and enjoying every moment with my son. Introducing him to this wonderful world of geeky goodness is what inspires me now and I’ve always built my business around my greatest inspirations.

Desperately Seeking Susan Jacket Original Sold for over $200,000

Thirty years after the release of Desperately Seeking Susan, the love for the movie and Madonna’s iconic style is still running strong as exemplified by the recent auction where the original jacket from the movie was sold for $252,000 and that famous single earring went for $34,375.

As an 80s kid, I was in LOVE with that movie and wanted that jacket so bad! So when I started making costumes, that jacket was always on my to-do list. I started out with the common misconception that the jacket was black. I also thought it was leather! I was wrong on both accounts. The material is a metallic dark green with gold threads as shown in these photos of the original jacket posted for the Rock-n-Roll Auction.

I do make my own version, which is an olive color with a slight sheen to it. And because so many people still request it in black, I’ll soon be doing it in black as well! I call it the Desperately 80s Jacket. My back design is the same idea but on a slightly smaller scale. Definitely a fan-made ode to the movie and not an exact replica. I really enjoy making these though!

Corset Sale at Below Wholesale Prices! Sizes XS – 7X, Satins, Vinyl, Leather and Brocade

Just finished listing over 80 corsets on eBay for our huge corset clearance sale! Most start at just $4.99 with NO reserve and all have a Buy it Now price at below their wholesale cost. All corsets listed on eBay are also available in-store as long as there are no bids on it, it is available at the BIN price.

Three Muses on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/threemusesclothing/m.html?_nkw&_armrs=1&_ipg&_from

Corsets range from sizes XS to 7X and features all different kinds of styles: overbust, underbust, cinchers and halfbust. Fabrics include satin, cotton, brocades, vinyl and leather. Many of the corsets have steel boning!

eBay Corset Sale

eBay Corset Sale

From Website to Brick and Mortar Boutique, part 2

If you missed Part 1, you can read that here: https://threemusesclothing.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/from-website-to-brick-and-mortar-boutique-part-1/

The economy was in a serious downswing when I decided to open a store. Fortunately for me, I had a website that sold to every corner of the globe. During my first few years international sales accounted for nearly a third of my business.

Advancing a business during a recession is an interesting experience, but it’s a great opportunity to seize. Stores are empty so rent is low and space is available everywhere. I found a spot close to my house with a good price on rent and a shorter commitment than usual. Of course I needed to fill the retail space with fixtures and racks. Luckily a lot of big stores were closing and selling everything inside, racks and all! At Linens and Things I found towers and gondola shelving that would normally cost $500-$700 going for $200 including all the shelves and brackets. I got a glass case and register stand at a discount warehouse, a couple fancy chairs off eBay, a big dressing room mirror at Sam’s and all the racks on the wall are actually closet pieces from Lowes.

 

Opening Day at Three Muses

Opening Day at Three Muses

It’s hard to believe how empty the store was when I first opened! Slowly over the years I’ve added more racks, tables and cases. During the first year I was mostly in the store by myself and I didn’t even have a credit card machine for sales. I had a laptop and would ring everyone up through Paypal. My total store sales for my first month in business was a whopping $5, not counting the grand opening party. I was open for two years before I finally got a real credit card machine.

Over the years I’ve had help from interns, my grandmother and a brief period where I had three employees at once. I’ve had weird hours only open a few days, normal Monday through Saturday hours and tried appointment-only hours last year when everything was driving me crazy and I was ready to close up shop.

 

A couple years ago Brema started as an unpaid intern and eventually worked her way up to store manager. Even when it is quiet upfront, there is so much going on in the background of the business that I never stop moving. She’s the one you see upfront smiling and helping customers while I’m zooming around in the background talking to myself. We’ve reached a pretty good symbiotic relationship that keeps things running smoothly.

So five years later, here we are! We’ve busted a hole through the wall and taken over the suite next door. We are relishing all the open space. It’s great to be able to work without tripping over each other and to be able to roll entire bolts of fabric out and cut giant patterns easily. There are times when every inch of the new space is covered with feathers and fabric and glitter, and times when we have it all neat with things boxed away. The store part is creeping over to the new side a little, which you’ve seen if you’ve ever visited the “super sale” rack behind the counter. We may even eventually rearrange things and incorporate that side a little more, but for now, we are just enjoying the luxury of open space.

Come celebrate 5 years of the boutique with us on Jan. 31st from 5-8. We’ll have drinks and snacks and lots and lots of store sales and specials!

https://www.facebook.com/events/198185627041880/

 

From website to brick and mortar boutique, Part 1

This got way too long so I had to split it into 2 parts! (maybe even 3)

Hard to believe it’s been 5 years already! But wow, the boutique has really grown during that time. Three Muses started as a web-based business I ran out of my house in 2005. I knew I wanted the business to grow so the first thing I did was go down the the Small Business Administration and learn about making everything legal. I got my business license, zoning and tax ID so I could buy wholesale and start getting business accounts. With that in place I signed up for a website with an e-commerce platform and started loading products. I was used to HTML but my new site used SSML so I learned a few new things so I could tweak the site the way I wanted.

After a couple years it outgrew my home office and garage and I needed to have a place where customers could come for fittings. I wasn’t quite ready for a store yet so I moved to a little studio behind Meisha’s house in Riverside. I met some of you guys when I had that first space! I was still doing mostly custom work and had a very small inventory.

The turning point came after doing a fashion show at a cute little boutique called Retail Therapy. I think they only lasted a year or two, but I really liked the way their shop was set up and it got me thinking about what my shop might look like. I started getting more people coming to the studio and they were buying things I had there as well as having things made. At that point I realized I needed to move to a commercial area and open a real brick and mortar store.

I had a jump start on most new businesses because I already had inventory, business income and a world-wide customer base. I also had very little overhead and a thriving business so I didn’t need to take out a loan to get started. I tried going to some classes at the SBA, but it seemed like I was way ahead of the game and everyone else was just there with an idea and trying to get a loan. So I applied to be connected with a SCORE mentor. They had nobody with retail experience or anyone remotely in the clothing business to connect me with. I did get paired up with a guy that had experience with opening a business in commercial locations so he was able to help me with some of the terms and look over the lease. I actually took the first and only place I looked at. It was exactly what I was looking for at the right price.

Now some of you may be thinking “You really wanted a hidden spot that nobody can find and on the second floor??”

The answer is yes! Since it was just me running the shop, I didn’t want a spot with a lot of foot traffic. I could close up and nobody would notice. I spent the first year in business when there would be weeks not a single person would come in. But during that whole time I was constantly working on the website and still doing good business. It would drive me crazy when people would say, “You most be really bored just sitting in the store all day.”  There was not a minute to sit around and do nothing! I was (and still am) constantly busy working. There is no time to sit around and be bored. I can honestly say I have not been bored at work for the past 5 years!

Next up: Part 2, building the store from this, on a very small budget:

In the beginning

Three Muses in the very beginning

Halloween is coming!

Yes, we know it is still July, but Halloween is just around the corner. We have started prepping and will have a few more of the handmade items back on the website in September. We are taking stock of the inventory and materials and trying to finish up all the advance commissions ahead of schedule.

The boutique will have expanded hours during October. Not sure what that will be yet, but we’ll let you know! 🙂

We are still doing Thursdays 11AM-6PM for walk-ins. Any other time by appointment.