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Meet Courtney Jacobson of Uncommon Costuming

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Jacobson.

Courtney, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I first learned to sew as a teenager – my mother and one of her sisters used to sew a lot and make clothes for me, so it was something I was exposed to from an early age. Then several years ago I started going to comic book conventions and the like and fell in love with cosplay (costume + play; dressing up as characters from film, TV, comic books, video games).

I started making my own costumes and it got to the point where I was working on at least one project, usually more, at any given time. My favorite part was actually making the outfits I designed, but I was making more than I had room for, so I started doing costumes for friends, then taking commissions. I loved doing it so much I finally decided to start a business. I primarily still do commissions, but am getting ready to open an Etsy shop so that I can sell my own original designs!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have a day job in addition to running the business, so the biggest challenge has been making time for everything. There were times early on when I’d be up all hours trying to finish a costume. Fortunately, I have the sort of obsessive personality that led me to take detailed notes on every project.

What materials I used, my initial construction plan, any changes to that plan, how long each step took. I used to work in project management, so doing things this way came naturally to me, and it’s been incredibly helpful in forecasting how long projects would take and budget my time accordingly.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Uncommon Costuming – what should we know?
I like to think we specialize in geekiness, both in terms of the themes we incorporate and in terms of our passion for sewing. I think being a “geek” is largely about being really enthusiastic about your interests when those interests aren’t mainstream (we don’t refer to football fans as ‘geeks,’ for example!).

Being a “geek,” in the sense of being really into things like Dungeons & Dragons and video games, has become so much more socially acceptable in recent years, and there’s a generation of adults now who want their geeky interests to be a part of their lives, the same way football fans want to wear their favorite player’s number. We see this in the world of cosplay, which is dominated by people in their 20s and 30s. We see this in the availability of things like adult size comic book t-shirts and superhero-themed high-end jewelry. But at the same time, a lot of the clothing that incorporates those themes or styles isn’t very high quality.

Uncommon Costuming prides itself in well-made garments that will last for years, and that are well fitted. Fit is the other problem with mass-produced clothing: it’s made from one pattern that assumes roughly the same proportions and a limited size range. And you have to do that with mass production, but it leaves a lot of people out. Doing bespoke clothing, in which each piece is made for an individual, allows me the freedom to customize without having to slot that person into a clothing category. And it lets me get creative with the designs, so I can let my geek flag fly!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Without a doubt, organization. Organizing my time, my workspace, my finances, the materials for each project has been really key to ensuring everything stays on track and that the final product is well made.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chris Pappas (Evil Queen), Steve Kaminsky (House of Black and White), Melody Stern (Iron Throne)

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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