Mandarin MiniCon, an event 10 years in the making

After weeks of wondering about rain, I couldn’t have asked for better weather on Saturday, March 28th. It was clear and sunny, but uncharacteristically cool for late March in Florida. A beautiful perfect day to put on what was going to be my biggest, most ambitious event ever.

Candy Keane at Mandarin MiniCon

Me, 9 months pregnant and happily surveying the scene at Mandarin MiniCon

Three Muses started as a website in 2005, but I’ve been in Mandarin Square since my retail store opened in early 2009. It’s an odd little spot, right on a major road, yet tucked back and pretty much hidden. The #1 phone call at the shop is from lost people asking for directions. It looks more like an office complex and has zero walk-in traffic. Nobody just casually wanders in. The good thing is that privacy also means we don’t have a lot of rules. No required hours to be open or a supervisor to answer to. The bad thing is the part where I mentioned we have zero walk-in traffic and everyone gets lost.

I’ve been wanting to do a large event to get people out to the plaza for a long time. I’ve done much smaller store events that always went well, but I’d never taken advantage of the freedom we have to use the entire plaza area. The thought of getting so many people involved and then hoping people would actually show up was very intimidating. I’ve seen too many empty events with grumbling vendors. Jacksonville can be a tough crowd sometimes.

Then Mythical Mountain moved in a few doors down and mentioned doing an event together for Free Comic Book Day. I’d have loved to do that, but I’m having a baby around that time so it wasn’t going to be possible. Not wanting to lose out on a good opportunity to kick off my maternity leave with a bang, I suggested we do an event earlier. Our own little “mini-con” with other vendors, conventions and local businesses. For some reason having a partner store in this, especially a comic book store, was the push I needed to make it happen. The fact that I would be nearly 38 weeks pregnant at the time and was the only one working at the shop was something I’d just deal with when the time came.

I contacted the building manager and the response was basically “do whatever you want, just clean up afterwards.” So I started sending Facebook messages to everyone I could think of to see if there was interest. One thing I knew was that I wanted to keep it free. We didn’t have to pay for use of the plaza and any money put in would pay off with visitors to the store that day and for long after. I was happy to discover Mythical Mountain had the same mindset.

In the beginning, I really thought I’d be begging people to be involved. But by the time word got out and things started rolling, I suddenly had a waiting list of vendors. That’s when I started to get excited about the interest being shown and knew we were on to something. I also started getting worried about logistical issues like where would they park, what if they got thirsty and hungry and where would they go to the bathroom? Our plaza area was open and free, but it was also free of the usual amenities you get when having an event in an actual building.

So next came the addition of food trucks and porta-potty rentals. With the event rapidly growing in size, I tried to map everything out and measure out spaces to see how many vendors we could fit. I can tell you I do not have a future in map making. I drew a lot of scribbling with some numbers and then decided I had the gist of the layout and would give everybody a spot when they showed up on Saturday. I’m still pretty surprised that actually worked.

I got in early that Saturday and vendors started showing up early right behind me. By our official start time at 11AM, everyone was set up and ready and the store seemed a little slow and manageable. I thought, not so bad, I can handle this. By just a couple hours in, we were slammed with a waiting line to check-out.

I’m very lucky to have friends that stepped in to help! I couldn’t have run the shop that day with Bridget and Meisha helping customers, Ted showing up early to carry the big sign down and help with set-up, Sean keeping an overall eye on things and getting people off the roof at one point and Matt emptying the large trash cans. I know there were also other people helping out and I’m thankful to you all. And all those that helped with clean-up were amazing. The plaza was left spotless.

I keep using the word “amazing” to describe the day because it really was. Things rarely go off so well and so easily. Yes a lot of work went into it to make it happen but you never really know how things are going to come together. The feedback afterwards was enough to give me the warm fuzzies for a week. In fact, I still have them. I feel like everything and everyone I have dedicated my time to, been involved with and supported showed up to return the favor. And on top of that was a whole new group of people I got to meet for the first time.

Click here to check out our photos on the Three Muses Facebook page

I need to do a few more shout-outs besides the aforementioned friends:

* Mythical Mountain- thank you for being my partner in this venture and for being as blindly optimistic as I was about everything! I look forward to doing it again.

* Max Micheals / Movement Magazine- thank you for doing the graphics for the event page, ads and fliers. And for bringing DJ ENS and the music / microphone / sound system. The event would not have been the same without the music. DJ ENS did a great job as both DJ and MC.

* The local conventions – thanks to AmeliaCon, CollectiveCon, GAAM and WasabiCon for being part of the event! Hope you all have the best year yet for your own events. Looking forward to attending them all.

* The food trucks – thanks to Delish Kabobs for coming out and serving some truly delicious food and I love the little food court area set-up! And Mister Softee ice cream was the perfect sweet treat for the day.

* Our costume contest supporters – Big thanks to all those that donated prizes and really made it a contest worth entering: AmeliaCon, GAAM, Actualized Arts, Bento Studios, Fantasi Kandy, Crafts by Helen Duffy, Red Velvet Photography, Showstoppers Variety Show, Art by Sabina

* Red Velvet Photography – thanks for coming out and covering the event! The photos area great and really show all the amazing costumes and crowd. Check out their photos here:  http://redvelvetphotography.com/p827394140#h407cb3c7

* The Jedi Academy of North Florida – thank you for entertaining the crowd with your performances!

* The Jacksonville geek/nerd/comics/cosplay community – it was wonderful to see so many of you come out and enjoy the day and dress up!

* All our vendors and participants:
AmeliaCon
Shoebeedoo
The Art Of Joseph Daugherty
Adorable Foxie
Scrub Oak Soaps
Iron Man – Jax
Jenifer Ann
WasabiCon
Movement Magazine
Collective Con
Jedi Academy of North Florida
Red Velvet Photography
GAAM
The Coffee Bard Coffeehouse
Art by Bento Studios
Actualized Arts
Umbrella Corporation Jacksonville (Home of the 219th Brain Surgeons)
Art by edbot5000
North Florida Chapter of the Heroes Alliance
Gotham City FX
Art and Caricatures by Art by Sabina
The Retro Raver
Comic Crafts by Helen Duffy Williams
Art by Mario Scott
Kawaii Designs
Silliness of Sewing
Orchid Ink Studios
I Am Sheridon
Nerdities
Color Television
Fantasi Candi

* I hope I managed to list everybody but if not, I apologize! I truly appreciate everyone involved.

Mandarin MiniCon – A Day of Comics and Cosplay

Mandarin Minicon A day of comics and cosplayJoin Three Muses Clothing and Mythical Mountain Comics & Collectibles for a day celebrating comics and cosplay at Mandarin Square! The event will be held outside both upstairs and downstairs in the plaza. The weather is supposed to be cloudy, a little cooler, but no rain! Sounds like a great way to enjoy a spring day.

Get your costume on and come join us for a FREE event featuring vendors, food truck Delish Kebobs, ice cream from Mister Softee, music by DJ ENS from Pixelated, sales, specials, a costume contest, a special performance by the Jedi Academy of North Florida and more!

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/826523284049763/

Costume contest at 3PM (details and prizes to be posted soon)
Performances by Jedi Academy of North Florida at 1PM & 4PM

This will also be the LAST DAY Three Muses is open until June. We are closing just for April & May. I am having a baby so the shop is taking a little break during this transition time. (and I really hope I make it till Saturday. I am ready to pop!)

Guests and vendors confirmed:
AmeliaCon – win free tix in the costume contest!
Shoebeedoo – one of a kind comic book heels
The Art Of Joseph Daugherty
Adorable Foxie – fun to wear furry things
Scrub Oak Soaps – all natural soaps
Iron Man – Jax Cosplay Guest
Jenifer Ann – Cosplay Guest
WasabiCon
Movement Magazine
Collective Con
Jedi Academy of North Florida– with performances at 1 & 4PM
Red Velvet Photography – roving photographers
GAAM – with the TMNT Van for pics and tix for costume contest winners!
The Coffee Bard Coffeehouse
Art by Bento Studios – with gift certificates and buttons for the costume contest!
Actualized Arts – with trinkets for the costume contest
Umbrella Corporation Jacksonville (Home of the 219th Brain Surgeons)
Art by edbot5000
North Florida Chapter of the Heroes Alliance
Gotham City FX
Art and Caricatures by Art by Sabina– win a video game print in the costume contest!
The Retro Raver
Comic Crafts by Helen Duffy Williams
Art by Mario Scott
Kawaii Designs
Silliness of Sewing
Orchid Ink Studios
I Am Sheridon
Nerdities
Spiders Web Marketing
Color Television

We do Jacksonville’s One Spark Festival Three Muses Style – 5 Days of Corsets and Cosplay

Last week Three Muses participated in a unique crowdfunding festival here in Jacksonville known as One Spark. We were competing with 609 other creators for a piece of the $310,000 to be awarded based on the votes of more than 260,000 people who attended. While only people who were physically at the festival and checked in were able to cast votes, a new option this year allowed anyone from anywhere in the world to contribute funds to their favorite projects through the website.

Our One Spark project

Our One Spark project

We didn’t participate last year and after attending one of the events, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. So when registration opened this year, I jumped at the chance to be a part of something potentially momentous. Problem was, I had no idea what my project would be. I wasn’t trying to start a new business and I didn’t have time to do anything not directly related to what Three Muses was already doing. Luckily the innovation category allowed for established businesses that wanted to take things farther and grow what they were already doing. So after years of contributing to countless funding campaigns for other people’s projects on the likes of Indiegogo and KickStarter, I decided to throw my hat into the crowdfunding ring.

Three Muses One Spark

The Three Muses table at Grease Rags

Our project was called Reintroducing the Art of Corsetry, because We Need a New Sewing Machine didn’t sound as catchy. But the basic idea was raising funds to get new equipment so we would be capable of producing our corsets and more items in-house rather than continuing to outsource overseas. Dreaming big, we figured if we could actually get a few machines then we could hold sewing classes in our workshop area.

Once I confirmed Brema was on board for five crazy days of talking about corsets, I got together our profile and we shot our video pitching our idea. A unique aspect of One Spark is that a venue has to choose to host your project. We were thrilled when Grease Rags Clothing Co. picked us and we immediately accepted. We have very complimentary stores and felt it was a great fit.

 

One Spark Jacksonville

One Spark Jacksonville

So for five long days and nights, Brema and I worked our butts off. We talked to everyone, did corset fittings and handed out over 300 cards as we pitched our idea and said our project number a million times. We ran back and forth from downtown to the shop, still managing to keep the store open every day. My mom came to visit and danced in the street wearing isis wings while handing out cards. We dressed as super heroes, video game characters, wore matching outfits and crazy tights. We visited other projects and cast our own votes. We posted incessantly online for people to vote and contribute.

Three Muses One Spark

Candy and Mom at One Spark

In the end, we managed to get 109 votes, which earned us $180.92 out of the $310,000. We raised a whopping $0 in contributions. (JULY UPDATE:  did not get enough votes to even get the money. So we got NOTHING.)

So between paying Brema to work the table and Jessica to work the store, food and gas, marketing, etc., I actually spent enough to have just gone out and bought some new sewing machines myself. But really, what’s the fun in that? I know for sure that doing the One Spark festival will pay off in the long run and quite honestly I wasn’t expecting much in the way of prize money so what we got was a welcome surprise. (JULY UPDATE: I wasn’t expecting much but to have the results say we would be getting something and then get nothing was a huge disappointment. And no, it did not payoff in the long run. Maybe 1 or 2 people came in that following week saying they saw us at One Spark)

The funds will be distributed in 4-6 weeks and when they are we plan to go shopping for a new sewing machine for the shop. The one we have now is getting a little old and temperamental. So just getting that small amount is pretty cool and we plan to put it to good use. (JULY UPDATE: Well that’s just depressing to read. That small amount would have indeed been cool.)

I feel the contacts we made at One Spark and the opportunity to connect with so many people was the most invaluable part of the festival. Every one of the cards we handed out was to people who were genuinely interested in what we had to offer. This was an incredible chance to directly market to people who will become future customers and those connections will pay off way more than the short term prize money.

(JULY UPDATE: Would I do this again? No. I think it’s great for someone who doesn’t have a fulltime job and can afford to be out there for 5 days pushing some new project. But to miss work and have to pay Brema to work the festival plus extra for working Sunday and pay to cover the shop and cover food and everything while we were there…it’s just too much. We made a lot more contacts just walking around. So we’ll definately be attending the festival again, just as attendees not creators.)

Big thanks to everyone who did come out and visit us and vote! And to Cindy at Grease Rags for being such a great host! We are already working on ideas for our project next year 🙂 (JULY UPDATE: We still love Cindy but our project next year will just involve enjoying the festival and maybe helping out someone else’s project)

 

One Spark Jacksonville

Mario and Luigi cosplay at One Spark

 

 

 

 

Just the beginning of summer and things are already heating up at Three Muses!

The store seems to be growing by leaps and bounds this year, even in the middle of what is usually the quiet season! Some of you may recall last year we were closed on Saturdays during the summer and then I actually closed the store all of July and took off for a little European adventure. That won’t be the case this year. We will be open even more days and hours, hopefully starting in July, August at the latest. The only time we will be closing is the week of DragonCon, as that is the kick off to our busy busy no sleep working 24-7 Halloween season.

We have more corsets than ever, and they seem to be multiplying behind my back. And now we’ve added leather! Nice, heavy real deal leather cinchers and corsets. We’ve phased out most of the higher priced costumes in favor of ones around $30-$40 that can be used as great starter pieces to create your own original look. The masquerade mask selection has exploded so much I haven’t had a chance to get most of them on the website. Who knew there were so many masquerades in Jacksonville? And as always, we have managed to keep the masks at an affordable range of $10-$20 while offering a unique selection straight from New Orleans.

The newest upcoming additons this summer will be pin-up dresses, more eyelashes and Xotic Eyes body and eye art, which we hope to grow into a full make-up counter before Halloween.

I am adding new items to the website nearly every day, but I never seem to be able to get it all on there. So there will always be more in the store than you see online. But you can see and shop about 80% of the store on the Three Muses website. And remember, if you see it on the website, we have it in the store.(with the exception of some of the shoes and custom made outfits)

Stop in and visit us this summer!

– Candy Keane

Owner, Three Muses Inspired Clothing

Celeste, Candy, Brema and Bridget of Three Muses

Celeste, Candy, Brema and Bridget of Three Muses

 

Wenchy Review of the Northeast Florida Beer Cup

Jacksonville Magazine’s 1st annual Northeast Florida Beer Cup was held this past Thursday evening at the Florida Theater. The wenches were in attendance, though not in formal dress this time. With a full month of beer fests ahead of us, we opted for Heidi buns, t-shirts and beer mug purses.

Grandpa's Cough Medicine

Grandpa's Cough Medicine

We arrived close to opening time at 6:30and waited in a very short and fast moving line as Grandpa’s Cough Medicine played in the background. They really know how to work a banjo. Once ID checked and through the door, we were presented with one of the nicest glass souvenir cups of any beer event so far. My only complaint would be that that was the only actual cup to be presented at the “Beer Cup.”

Looking forward to a hearty competition among local brewers and not finding it, I tracked down Joseph White, publisher and editor of Jax Mag, to find out what was up. According to Joe, it had actually started out as a competition, but there was some nervousness amongst the brewers about competing against each other when many had helped each other learn and grow, so the competition part was dropped. They are looking into doing it again next year and hopefully all the brewers will be on board with what I thought was an excellent concept that would really set this event apart from the other beer fests. Why not showcase their talent by creating a special brew just for the Beer Cup? I would love to go to an event where I could try something completely new.

Cheers to Jax mag

Cheers to Jax mag

There were two new beers I sampled that were both quite delicious, but there wasn’t much information posted and I had to ask them what they were serving to find out what I was getting. Engine 15 was serving what the guy said was a “black IPA” that reminded me of a hoppy stout and the other was a very drinkable IPA from Green Room Brewing. Once again, I wish there was more information provided about the beer instead of just fill’er up and on to the next one. A brochure type thing at the door telling about the beers available to sample would be helpful.

The limited number of tickets sold for the event worked out to a nice crowd, but it never had the feeling of being too packed. You could easily move around and the lines for beer and food were never too long. All the food I sample was delicious, with the standout being the pulled pork BBQ from Mojo #4 with a little mojo sauce. The BBQ tacos from Habeas Porkus were a close second. European Street Café was there with several tasty morsels to sample as well.

Overall it was a nice event with more of a “food and wine” feel than your typical “beer fest.” I look forward to seeing what they do next year and hope the idea of an actual competition catches on with the local breweries.

We found a Three Muses beer wench

We found a Three Muses beer wench at European Street Cafe

The Wenchy Review of the Folio Weekly Beer Fest

Our latest wenching adventure took us to the Folio Weekly Beer and Music Fest on Friday night. As promised, there was plenty of parking, no lines and they never ran out of beer. They even had food left at 8PM! We walked right in, picked up our souvenir beer cups and went off in search of great beer.

Three Muses wenches at the St. Pauli Girl table

Three Muses wenches at the St. Pauli Girl table

Our plan was to start at one end and work our way around, so we went to the most logical table for a bunch of girls dressed like frauleins, the St. Pauli Girl’s table! After that we worked our way down to the craft beer section in the very center of the room to sample some of the delicious and hoppier brews. I went straight to the 2xIPA on our first stop at the Southern Tier table. I was quite happy with it and could have stuck around to sample every variety.

Southern Tier Brewery

Southern Tier Brewery

We missed the VIP Women’s Dance performance but stopped by to say hi to the girls and then went over to get pics with them on the pole. The wenches did not do any pole dancing, as we did not want to spill our beer. If you are a lady looking for a unique way to exercise, we recommend checking them out: www.VIPWomensDanceParties.com

Three Muses with VIP Womens Dance
Three Muses with VIP Womens Dance

Our next stop was Bold City Brewery, who had my favorite beer of theirs on tap, Mad Manatee IPA.

Bold City Brewery

Bold City Brewery

We got some stickers for our beer mug purses and took pics with the kegs. We were amazed at how easy it was to get beer! Since there were no lines, I actually had to pour some of mine out so I could sample more beer without having to slam them back. I am no good at doing shots. The other beer high on our list of favorites that night was Black Dog Ale. There were a few more that I tried for the first time, but once you get to the 2nd half of beer fest, you start forgetting beers. I really need to start taking notes

Overall we had a great time. When we first arrive anywhere, people aren’t sure exactly what to think and we get some weird looks and a lot of what I can only refer to as “stink eye” from some of the less friendly girls. We are just out to have a good time and promo the costume shop. We are dressed up for a reason, and we are actually out there doing a job. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have fun doing it. We are happy to take photos with people and are always nice to everyone we meet as long as you’re not acting like a jackass.

 So to the guy in the blue shirt: you’re an idiot and yes I did mean to trip you and Brema isn’t sorry about spilling beer down your back. We all hope it leaves a stain.

To the guys who asked us for tickets to Disney World: we weren’t sure if that was a really bad pick-up line, or if you’re just being stupid. We’ll go with both.

Brema going for the prime advertising spot

Brema going for the prime advertising spot

To the guy in the white t-shirt who let Brema sign your forehead, nothing but love.

 And finally, to all the friendly, nice people and vendors and of course, to the Folio Weekly, thanks for a great time and really well done beer fest! You guys have it down.

 Three Muses Beer Wench approved!

Get Ready for Jacksonville’s Largest Mardi Gras Party!

We’ve got masks, we’ve got outfits and we’ve got tutus (because everything is more fun in a tutu). Join us at Jacksonville’s Largest Mardi Gras Party this weekend from 4-9 at downtown Jax Beach. They may be linking to that other costume shop, but you know where you should really go to get your costume: ThreeMusesClothing.com

We have lots and lots of great stuff in the shop that is not on the website!

Mardi Gras Corset

Mardi Gras Corset

Event Date: March 5, 2011 4-9pm

What is Mardi Gras Jax?

Jacksonville’s newest and best way to celebrate the Mardi Gras Season.  This year Jacksonville Beach will introduce an annual celebration of their own to help everyone celebrate this joyous and fun yearly event.  Saturday, March 5th, the weekend before Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras Jax will mark it’s first of many staple celebrations for the largest Mardi Gras party in the Jacksonville area.

This Mardi Gras themed pub crawl will start at JamRock Cafe, and extend to another seven bars and restaurants along the beach in downtown Jacksonville Beach.  Highlights from the event will include several beads being given out, a crowning of the King and Queen of Mardi Gras Jax at the after party located at Bo’s Coral Reef, a costume contest, several prize give-aways and a grand prize of an all-expenses-paid, including port fees, cruise for two provided by Budweiser