Something to Warm Your Heart on a Cold Day

If you’re local, you know that this morning we actually woke up for the first time since last year with frost on our windshields, frozen dew on our lawns, and a shiver in our bones. Winter finally came to Houston. If you’re NOT local, know that this is a rare event indeed, a literal cold splash in the face the inform us that the year is about over.

True, I started the day with a blanket to warm my body and a cup of hot cocoa to warm the insides, but something recently happened that actually warmed my soul. You see, I’m very happy having two main clienteles – brides and Santas – but rarely do the two mix. Until now.

One of my clients is a wonderful gentleman named Adam Sinclair-Greenwood, the official man behind the Robin Hood Experience in Nottingham, England. For years, he has played the leader of his Band of Merry Men at the Experience in the shadow of Nottingham Castle. He may not rob from the rich, but he’ll happily take people’s admission fees and give them an entertaining time they’ll never forget.

Well, back in 2009, Robin met his Maid Marian in the form of Sarah, whom he met in The Netherlands at Elf Fantasy Fair Haarzuilens. In 2018, she became the woman he was determined to marry, and they were happily betrothed. Unfortunately, Sarah was not allowed back into England, as she was originally from The Netherlands and had a US passport. Adam and Sarah – just like the lovers in the Robin Hood tales – decided it was worth it to face the obstacles and overcome them together.

The fairy tale wedding finally happened just last month. Adam flew out to The Netherlands and – with Sarah’s two daughters – celebrated his wedding to the love of his life. They livestreamed the ceremony so that family and friends all over the world could enjoy the nuptials.

So, what’s my part in this? Well, as the wedding date neared, Adam and Sarah contacted me and asked if I could create their wedding costumes that would befit the Lord of Locksley and his beautiful bride. While I’m always proud of my work, I was especially heartwarmed at the “Robin and Marian in a Winter Wonderland” motif. Subjectively, it was quite the experience to craft two custom-made outfits when both of the clients were in different parts of the world from each other and me. Objectively, they were one beautiful couple. I hesitate to say this because I obviously can’t do it for ALL my clients, but I did make sure my wedding gift was a little cash to help them defray the wedding and travel expenses.

The fairy tale, unfortunately, is not quite at its happy ending, however. Sarah needs a visa to get back into England so she can take up residence with her husband. Until then, her Robin will just have to keep catching a ferry back and forth until the bureaucracy is untangled.

They’ve set up a crowdsource account to help them with the accompanying costs, and are on the lookout for any attorneys with immigration experience to help them at a reduced or pro bono rate. To learn more about them and their story, check out this newspaper article:

It’s so rare that I get to be part of a real life happily ever after, and this is one time that will stick with me for many, many holidays to come. What about you? Do YOU have any special holiday wedding memories you want to share? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time,


Memories of Jayne

In the bridal business, anniversaries tend to be growing days of celebration: the more anniversaries you celebrate, the deeper the bonds. However, there’s one type of anniversary that never gets enjoyable, and that is that of the death of a loved one.

This month marks the first anniversary of the passing of my mother-in-law, Jayne. Our first encounter was the stereotypical nerve-wracked affair – at least on my end – because I was fully aware that a) her son and I had only been dating for a short while, and b) she was extremely religious, the literal Preacher’s Wife.

I steeled myself for an Inquisition, only to be confronted with one of the most accepting, kindhearted, and loving people I had ever met. She was someone I could discuss and debate countless topics with, even the ‘taboo’ ones like transsexual rights and politics. Instead of taking a holier-than-thou stance that I’d convinced myself all religious people had, she presented a basic view that we’re all God’s children and are all worthy of acceptance and love.

Now, bear with me: she reminded me completely and utterly of Mrs. Claus, the unsung heroine of the man who gets all the good press. I absolutely love the concept of Santa Claus and his wife, which is one of the primary reasons I’m so passionate about that part of my business. This married couple is the embodiment of love and unconditional acceptance.

A particularly fond memory I have of her is the day when I took the opportunity to vent about my frustrations with marriage. Even the strongest granite has chips and flaws without crumbling the entire thing. When you share a house, a bed, finances, and emotions day after day, even a fairy tale wedding can turn into a pumpkin from time to time. I asked her if she ever felt like killing her husband Walter. Once again expecting the stereotypical ‘wifely duties’ religious response, Jayne floored me when she easily replied, “At least once a week.”

Without skipping a beat, she continued that she couldn’t imagine living a single moment without him. I smiled at her and said that I felt the same way about her son, and that I must be doing something right. After all, Jayne and her husband had been married for more than fifty years. We both laughed and then she hugged me. She gave great hugs.

I love to tell this story to my brides. Their wistful smiles let me know that they hope their own MILs are as awesome as Jayne was.

It’s a year after her passing now, and certainly things across the globe haven’t gotten any easier. Forced lockdowns may look great on paper, but there is definitely fallout from personalities in confined quarters. In this day and age of the craziness that goes on in all of our lives both personally as well as globally, I think about her a lot and how she would face it. She would accept everyone where they are and love everyone where they are. And she would definitely be one of the helpers.

I can only hope that I did her proud during the quarantine by making 2,100 (and counting!) masks for first responders.

As much as I love my husband, I miss his mother.

Until next time!


Taking a Leap

Welcome to a special day: LEAP DAY. This extra day in February that comes only once every four years (give or take) is considered extremely special in culture, superstition, legality, and literature – and stories such as The Pirates of Penzance would literally not be able to exist without it.

(Funny trivia that came up in my research: Superman’s birthday – but not Clark Kent’s – is officially considered to be February 29.)

When it comes to the legal system domestically and internationally, special rules apply: the recognition of adulthood (typically your 18th birthday) and driver’s license expirations occur either on subsequent February 28ths or March 1sts, depending on your country of residence.

What does Leap Day have to do with me? Well, weddings are a big part of my business, and believe it or not this day has special significance in some cultures, particularly across the pond in the United Kingdom and surrounding areas.

There’s a popular tradition known as Bachelor’s Day in some countries that allows – or outright encourages – a woman to propose marriage to a man on February 29. If the man refuses, he then is obliged to give the woman money or buy her a dress. In upper-class societies in Europe, if the man refuses marriage, he then must purchase 12 pairs of gloves for the woman, suggesting that the gloves are to hide the woman’s embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. In Ireland, the tradition is supposed to originate from a deal that Saint Bridget struck with Saint Patrick.

Meanwhile, a mere Mediterranean Ocean away, in Greece, it is considered unlucky to marry on a leap day. Personally, I think they need to get over this particular superstition: if makes it a lot easier on the man in the relationship to remember anniversaries. Genderist? Perhaps. But true? Absolutely.

Domestically, one town in particular has an interesting twist: in Aurora, Illinois, single women are deputized and may arrest single men, subject to a four-dollar fine, every February 29. To me, this is Sadie Hawkins run amok!

Why else is this day important to me? Because I’ve selected this leap year of 2020 to take a large leap of faith when it comes to my professional life and career. I’ve spent the past numerous months getting some business ducks in a row, and if you haven’t caught it yet, check out my completely redesigned website and upgraded services. When I first started, I wasn’t entirely clear in my head what I wanted to offer as the Singing Seamstress. In time, I learned there’s a danger in offering a little bit of everything – the phrase Jack of All Trades pops into mind. By tightening my service menu, I’m able to ensure more personalized detail to my clients in a more intimate setting. The last thing I want is anyone one hires to me to feel they’re in an assembly line, or merely a number in my appointment book.

So celebrate with me in raising a glass in celebration to this year so far – where, I’m so proud to announce, I’ve been named to The Knot’s Best of the Year for the third year in a row. As we slide into March and the upcoming spring and bridal season, I’d love to hear from you: What are YOUR leaps you’ll be taking this year?


Until next time!


Seeing Red (in the good way)

A few months ago, I talked about traditional wedding colors in other cultures. Now, with it being Valentine’s Day, I was inspired to pick one color – red – and give you my musings on it.

The relationship between crimson and love is age old for obvious reasons – the color signifies the color of the heart. And blood. Rubies (the ‘blood stones’) are the gem designated as talismans that promote love, lust, and fire. Early medieval paintings tended to depict Christ and the Virgin Mary as wearing red clothing to drive home the point of blood and sacrifice.

Outside of our own borders, red is considered a lucky color. Particularly in China; and – incidentally – we’re currently in the Chinese New Year season. For the Chinese, red is supposed to repel evil spirits and bad fortune. Interestingly, we in the West tend to use lots of reds in marketing and ad campaigns that cater to the Chinese, but a little study into the matter would let us know that’s considered bad taste. Red isn’t used every day by far in Chinese couture. I guess it would be akin to Chinese (or Russians or Lilliputians) basing their own perceptions of American fashion purely on the colors of red, white, and blue. Long story short? If you’re putting together an outfit of cultural significance, know that culture’s thoughts on colors.

The cliché of red clothing extends far back into time. Today, there is something actually called the ‘Red Dress Effect’ – a hotly debated postulation that people look more attractive or more sensual when wearing that color. Two opposing studies have clashed on the topic, leaving us with no real idea if it’s actually true or not. But – backed up by science or not – the cliché is still there: red dresses equal vamps. Some of the most iconic dresses in cinematic history have been red. Think of Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Vivien Leigh in not one but two red dresses in Gone With the Wind (frankly, Scarlett…), Bridget Bardot in more than one movie… heck, even Jessica Rabbit. Red across the board, and all in sexpot roles.

Looking back through time, this ‘red equals sex’ probably first reared its ugly head in the Christian Bible – testaments both old and new. Sins were described as ‘scarlet’ in the OT book of Isaiah. Meanwhile, in the last few pages of the NT, the book of Revelation described the Antichrist as a red monster being ridden by a women dressed in scarlet. The woman being – you guessed it – the Whore of Babylon. For some reason, in my humble opinion, way back in the day, red got a raw deal.

Where does that leave us today? To me, red is a thrilling color. It represents vitality, and spirit, and passion… and Santa. Sure, crimson isn’t for every occasion or every person, but I personally find it an amazing color to work with, whether I’m assisting someone in their cosplay ventures, cultural wedding couture, or Santa wishes.

All that being said, I want to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day. (And, to further drive home the themes of love and blood and sacrifice during this day, read about what eventually happened to the poor guy this day is named after!) I think I may start a theme, and touch on the color green next month… and maybe flag colors for July and orange for October and…

Well, that’s enough from me for now… what are YOUR thoughts on red?

Until next time!


2019 – The Year in Review

I can’t believe another year has come and is nearly gone. We’re facing the return of the Roaring ‘20s, and I for one can’t be more excited at what’s around the corner for me, personally and professionally.

It cannot be denied that 2019 capped off a decade of highs and a couple of lows, but that’s par for the course for a small business owner, especially one whose livelihood depends on customer satisfaction even when it’s a fact that some customers are never satisfied. However, it equally can’t be denied that no one ever held a gun to my entrepreneurial head. I do what I do for love. Love and – you know – the occasional paycheck.

So, without too much further ado, allow me to share with you some of the highlights and lowlights of 2019:

Uncle Santa Wants You! – It may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but I was so proud to create my first Civil War Santa costume. A little history: in 1863, President Lincoln thought it would be a good idea to create a Santa who had the best interests of the Union at heart – if Santa is for us, who can be against us, right? – and

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

that year cartoonist Thomas Nast came up with a visual. Bedecked in red, white, and blue stars and stripes, this figure inspired countless soldiers during the holiday season to end the war in their favor. Now, we’ve all heard of Civil War enactors, but this was the first time I’d ever encountered a Civil War SANTA enactor. Which made me very glad to be a part of history!

Family (Christmas) Tree – In March, I had the honor of attending the annual Santa Family Reunion in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Hundreds of Santas and Mrs. Clauses hit the Gatlinburg Convention Center and streets for a yearly convention that fills the town with love and laughter. It was more than me just being there as a vendor; I found a whole new family and can’t wait to go back in ’20!

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All of the Time – This was an admittedly low point in the year. On two occasions, I received word of unhappy customers. Now, I know that’s part and parcel of doing business, but I eventually realized that there exists in this world people who will just never be satisfied. Maybe they’re professional complainers. Maybe they have hopped on the train of thought that if they complain loudly enough they’ll get their goods/services/meals/projects at a steeply discounted rate or even free. I have to thank my business coach for ensuring that I had my terms and conditions of service prominently displayed and also made as part of my contracts with customers. As a result, even the Better Business Bureau agreed with my side and dropped the claims against me. But I have to admit it still stung and made me seriously consider my continuation as the Singing Seamstress.

Tying the Knot – And this is the ‘yang’ to the previous paragraph’s ‘yin’ – For the second year in a row, I was named to Knot’s “Best of Weddings.” This is an honor that no one’s personal agenda can take away from me. With more than a hundred 5-star ratings on The Knot – inarguably the Internet’s premier central hub for weddings and brides – I was galvanized and inspired to keep up the hard work and do everything in my power to earn a THIRD award in a row in 2020. I’ll keep you posted!

The Faces Behind the Masks – If you’ve been keeping up with my blog over the past few months, you’ll know I had the joy of signing contracts with two amazing business entities to provide costumes for their mascots. The Houston Texans’ mascot – Toro the bull – has worn several of my creations (meaning that when he’s televised on a game, I’ve got MILLIONS of people checking out my work!) and I even got to help brighten the life of his bride. The other mascot I’m not at liberty to discuss (corporate rules), but if you had found yourself on the road and pulling into a particular large convenience store because you were craving some kind of beaver-type snack, you might have seen one of thirteen costumes I created for this company. Nameless or not, it was an honor and a pleasure (and a lot of hard work on limited time!) to craft these costumes.

Lone Star Roundup – Grapevine, Texas was one of my destinations of choice this year when I attended theLone Star Roundup, an annual event that includes a fashion show; here are several of my costumes being featured in the show. If you haven’t heard of Lone Star Santas, you need to check them out here!

Reaching Out – I think, in closing, that the biggest highlight of 2019 was reaching so many of you. Your word of mouth has done wonders for my business, and I’ve loved posting blogs and memes and photos and observations and jokes and everything else I can think of to entertain, inform, and inspire you. And your responses have inspired me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your support and patronage, and I’m SO looking forward to stepping into the Roaring ‘20s with you.

Now, it’s YOUR turn… what are some of YOUR highlights of 2019??

Until next time!


Stories of My (Early) Successes

Stories of My (Early) Successes

As this year rolls to a close, I thought I’d reminisce about days of old. I enjoyed some early successes as a fledgling Singing Seamstress, but not all of them – in fact, practically NONE of them – came easily. Here are some flashbacks that tend to bring a smile to my lips:

Putting the “Fab” in “Extra Fabric”

A bride-to-be and her mom came to a fitting appointment. Without judgment and speaking purely empirically, it was obvious that the bride was on the plus side. She had bought a dress and a matching bolero (a short jacket for those of you not quite fully fluent in the language of stitchery), but wanted to make some changes. We went to put the dress on and discovered that the zipper to the gown would not close.

In fact, not only would it not close, but the gap was fully four inches… and, yes, in this occasion size DOES matter. Apparently the gown boutique’s salesperson had clipped it where she could and then threw the bolero over the top to hide the fact from her that the dress was too small. Both bride and mother began to cry once I explained what was wrong. I was able to calm them down by explaining that this could still be fixed.

I am very grateful that the gown she bought had straps and that the skirt was a full ballroom style, so I had lots of room to maneuver. Essentially what I had to do was add panels at the bodice side and then cover the seams up with the lace from the bolero body (as the bride had asked me to attach the bolero sleeves directly to the dress0. The upshot of which is that I distributed the lace so it looked like it had originally been crafted like that; no one could tell where the original designer ended and Heather began.

When the bride came in for her final fitting, she burst into tears again. But this time they were tears of joy and gratitude. The expression on her face made the extra work definitely worthwhile.

At Least They Didn’t Take Him on the Honeymoon

This time, a bride came in for alterations and requested modesty panels both in the front and the back; apparently the ceremony’s officiant doing the service wanted less skin showing. She brought me some lace and we played with the design until she was happy with the new design, finally approving it so I could get to work. When all was ready, she picked up the gown took it to show her officiant.

Not to put too delicate a point on it, but he pooped all over it. He requested a whole lot less skin showing. He was so adamant about it, apparently, that he even offered to pay for the work to be done. Once again, the bride and I put our heads together, and we eventually settled on what’s called a racer back formation, which is ironic because she could’ve picked up a dress that was originally in that configuration had she known. Unfortunately, apparently because of the time and expense involved in the additional work, the officiant reneged on his offer and said he was not going to pay for the alterations.

So now the bride and I were both stuck. She said she could pay me half of what she owed me on a credit card and then the difference with a post-dated check. At this point I was so mad at the officiant that I agreed to take a little of the weight off of her shoulders.

When she picked up the re-revised final gown, she mentioned something in passing about her father, and something in her tone and words gave me a sneaking suspicion that the officiant and her father were one in the same person. I never got pictures of the ceremony so I can’t confirm it; however, she DID text me saying that the officiant approved. And the check did clear.

Ironically, Making a Kilt is Harder

I received a frantic call late one Saturday evening from a bride asking if I could do a major alteration within a week’s time frame. She was desperate and asked around for someone who could rescue her, and my name came up. Through her near-hysteria, she explained that her other dress was a “disaster.” She had replaced the dress with a mis-sized alternate off the rack and needed alterations before she left for Scotland in seven days. Time was of the essence! The project could only take six days, max. I love a good challenge – especially when Scotland is involved – and had her come over to the studio that evening.

She showed me her previous pictures of her original gown. The dress she had first tried on was a larger floor sample, and so the neckline sat in a certain way that she liked. When she ordered the proper size for her measurements, however, the neckline didn’t look like that anymore. Her original seamstress assured her she could replicate the neckline, but in the end she couldn’t get it to look right at all.

The replacement dress she picked unfortunately had a six-inch lace border on the skirt that required to be moved. The only way to do so is by hand, and this is a time-consuming, intricate process. But the bride had inspired me, and I wouldn’t be daunted.

Six days? Hold my beer (or, more accurately, wine). I did it in two. I was able to complete the alterations the next day and when she picked them up she was extremely happy. She made her flight the ceremony was apparently a huge success, and I’m looking forward to her portraits in front of the family castle; here’s a castle-less taste in the meantime.

Any success stories YOU’D like to share?

Until next time!



You’ll have to pardon the puns, but I’m so excited that I’m bursting at the seams. I’m just now sewing up an admittedly formidable task that’s been leaving me in stitches.

Why am I so excited? Because it appears that my small business is evolving into the next step. For years, I’ve worked on costumes for Santas. I’ve relatively recently been working on more – shall we say – ‘corporate’ gigs (like my work for Toro, the official mascot of the Houston Texans NFL team). But now, I’ve gotten to merge the two!

A little history. A few years back, I was commissioned to create an upscale Santa costume for a wonderful man named Steve Fletcher, who himself was chosen to be the Guest Santa of Honor at the National Mall Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington DC.

I can’t tell you how proud I was to craft a costume seen by millions of children who thought Steve was the real deal. It was important for me to get the costume JUST RIGHT, as we all know that TV is shot in high-definition now and I didn’t want a thread out of place. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of Steve for wearing it so well.

Also in the recent past, I was commissioned to design and create the costume for the official Santa Claus who was to be showcased in the annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston. Another fine man, Mel Wallace, was selected to be the wearer of said costume. While the scale of this event was more city-level than national, I am no less proud of my work.

Now, both of these events were obviously designed for one-off events. But a few months back I received a request that brought a lot of delight – as well as a lot of hard work – into my life. I was sworn to secrecy for obvious reasons, because the company that hired me wanted to lovingly surprise its countless customers. But now that the job is done, I can tell you about it.

I was commissioned by a certain statewide large-scale convenience store/rest stop corporation to provide thirteen(!!) Santa Costumes for their area mascots! Now, unfortunately I can’t name any names, but I CAN say that, if you head out of Houston on pretty much any freeway, sooner or later you’ll come across one of these stores; they have plenty of billboards to tell you you’re getting close.

I can admit, it was no easy feat providing a costume that matched the exacting standards of both this magnificent (and unnamed) business and myself, and then repeating that process identically an additional dozen times. Not only was the look, quality, and consistency forefront in my mind, but also the comfort for the wearers of these costumes. I have to admit, my work with Toro helped me understand the trials and tribulations of men and women who have to wear heavy costumes for hours on end.

Despite the time and energy involved, it was SO worth it! I’m so proud and honored that such a community-based, statewide organization would trust me with providing the proper holiday look to represent it and its mascots. I hope… no, I KNOW that I’ve done them proud.

So… if you find yourself on a long-distance road trip this holiday season and stumble across a large, standalone convenience store/gas station, take a chance and pull in. And if you HAPPEN to see a mascot in a custom-made Santa costume, why not take a selfie with him/her and send it to me?


Until next time!


A Bloggin’ from Saint Nick

‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the blogosphere, not a creature was writing, so I thought I’d post something here.

If you were expecting a post from Heather, I’m glad to disappoint you. Oh, she’ll be back soon enough; she’s been a GOOD GIRL this year working on brightening the lives of many clients, but she’s against the clock at the moment, so I thought I’d post in her place. Allow me to introduce myself:

It’s your old pal, Santa Claus. That’s right; Kris Kringle himself. Father Christmas, Père Noël, Saint Nicolas, Dedt Moroz, Hoteiosho… I have many names, and nearly as many faces. And I have to say that Heather has done an awesome job at bringing some of those faces – and costumes – to life for me, as well as many of my ‘helpers’ who work the crowds while I work away at the North Pole. Here are some examples:

Now, THIS is Heather’s first attempt to capture my modern day image. Did you know that the stereotypical look of Santa came from a 1933 Coca-Cola advertising campaign? I mean, sure, cartoonist Thomas Nast got most of that look down in the 1870s, but the fine folks at Coke made me the man I am today to American children. Too bad the milk industry wasn’t quicker on signing me on as the Official Milk Spokesman!

If you go back to my earlier roots, I looked a lot different than what I do today. In the 1820s, Clement Moore wrote about me in his famous poem that we all know and that I sort-of quoted up top. But he imagined me as a teeny-tiny guy with reindeer the size of wiener dogs. Personally, I think it was just a writer’s shortcut so he wouldn’t have to explain how I make it down chimneys. However, in the Renaissance period, I was larger than life. Here, Heather crafted a beautiful outfit for me that was quite stylish in the 1400s.

In Nordic countries, people’s views of me are all over the map. In Norway in particular, I’m called Julinessen, and I catch a lucky break because people do their gift-swapping on the night before, so I can cross them off my travel list early. I also have little gnomes called Nisse to help me. Here’s a shot of me and one of my adorable helpers in beautiful Heather-crafted costumes.


As popular as Charles Dickens is with Christmas lovers, I’m nowhere to be found in his Scrooge story. But rest assured I was working behind the scenes to bring old Ebenezer to an epiphany. Every year, that’s celebrated in Galveston at a huge festival where I get to work on my Texas tan as I wear Heather’s official Dickens on the Strand Santa costume.


Speaking of Texas, there’s an awesome artist named Jack Sorenson who painted a cowboy version of myself. I loved it so much that I asked Heather to recreate his fashion. I think she did a purty durned-tootin’ job.

Even though I bring tons of toys to millions of children each year, I also love to help other causes the rest of the year. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I’m passionate about helping raise that awareness. People like to wear pink ribbons to commemorate the month, but you KNOW I like to take it a step further, so I asked Heather to whip me up a whole costume in pink. Let me take this opportunity to encourage ALL men and women to do what it takes to catch this horrible disease early.


Movies about me are a great way to spread the holiday spirit. But it seems as if each moviemaker has a different idea about how I should look! Luckily for me, Heather is on the case and has crafted a movie-Santa look for every occasion. Here are some shots of me in costumes inspired by movies like Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause, Frozen, Rise of the Guardians, and Kurt Russell’s The Christmas Chronicles. What’s YOUR favorite movie featuring me??


Finally, I’m a big fan of the concept of “an oldie but a goodie.” Sure, I may look nothing like I did back in 280 AD in Lycia (which is nowadays somewhere in Turkey), but I’m very comfortable in my ‘traditional’ garb. Here are a final couple of shots of costumes that Heather put together for me.

I love that Heather is so busy each year working on costumes for my helpers. Be sure to book her early for YOUR Santa or Mrs. Claus costume so you can be featured next year around this time!

Ho ho ho!


The big deal about small business

There’s a saying in the stage theatre industry that comes from the great dramatic teacher Constantin Stanislavski: There are no small roles, only small actors. I recently discovered that you could easily change that to the wacky world of entrepreneurship: There are no small businesses, just the humans that run them.

You’ve heard me talk of my history as a weekend seamstress and part-time theatrical costumer as I sold medical supplies and performed other corporate gigs. You’ve also heard me self-congratulate my decision to “go pro” and become the professional Singing Seamstress you know and love today.

But what I haven’t gone into is exactly how such a decision and turning point in my life could have had an equally negative impact on me. That’s right: it isn’t all glitz and glamour.

I’ll preface this with an assurance that I’m not going anywhere; I’m not laying down my hand and walking away from the table. And I certainly don’t intend for this to be a rant-fest. But a couple of issues arose recently that made me – perhaps for the first time – honestly question if what I do is worth the cost of what I do, emotionally and otherwise.

I won’t go into particulars and I certainly won’t name names, but I have to admit if you decide to do an online search of my ratings, you’ll most likely come across what I’m talking about.

The first instance occurred a few months ago. Now, you’ve heard me joke about bridezillas, and you’ve also read me talk about how in many cases they are simply misunderstood. But sometimes, you come across what I term a ‘professional complainer’ – someone who is either never happy or expects to get something lessened in price or free if they express real or feigned unhappiness. These are the type of people who, when dining out, have to have the manager called over to state that it was “the worst experience they ever had” – despite it being a normal experience for anyone else – and not stopping until the meal is comped. And if the meal – or other service like, say, altering a gown – isn’t comped, they feel the need to take their story to the world and facts be darned.

That’s the situation I found myself in. I’ll summarize the experience with my admission that I finally realized the customer isn’t always right. When a bride wants a gown a certain way, and you know it won’t work, don’t cave in to her demands. Especially if it’s a bride who turns out to be a professional complainer who also likes to blame the world at large for everything wrong in her life (as evidenced by her own history of social media posts). She publicly railed against me on my own Facebook page with a litany of false and inaccurate accusations, and I replied in kind. Apparently that really affronted her, because the next I knew, I was being notified by the Better Business Bureau of a complaint with them.

Now, do you know what stung worse than the complaint (which was eventually dismissed)? The accuser’s statement that I should “stick with costuming.” Though it was designed to be belittling (and admittedly had that effect on me), it also denigrated the dozens or hundreds of cosplayers and Renaissance Festival actors and performers that I’ve taken care of over the years.

That woman’s barbs truly did their damage to my commitment, and for the first time I actually wondered if it’s ‘worth it’ to continue working with brides if it meant dealing with more of her ilk. Eventually, I was able to shrug it off and dive right back in, just in time for the ‘busy season.’

The second instance came shortly thereafter. It was actually sort of surreal. The bride in question sent me an email to the effect of “I like you and your work, but I’m going to give you a bad review.” I tried working with her (and indeed also before this point when I once again found myself trying to acquiesce to a bride’s unrealistic demands of their visions for their gowns), but she still publicly posted on a review site. Oddly, she too opted to take a dig at the supposedly relative ‘easiness’ of costuming and how I should just stay with that for my career path.

This time, it took a lot longer – and not a few bottles of wine – before I got out of the resulting funk. At first, I was ashamed of my tears, but was assured by family, friends, and supporters alike that they’d be more concerned if I wasn’t devastated. My pain meant I cared. I honestly had to go through the stages of grief like a bereaved widow to come out of this one.

Again, I replied in an equally public forum; not to get the last word or to be defensive, but to assure clients old and new that there are usually two truths in any given situation, and that they needed both versions to come to educated decisions on their own. Hopefully, my track record of more than 100 five-star reviews outweigh these two 1-stars that hang over me.

As a small businesswoman, I’m realistic. I know I’ve brightened the lives of countless dozens of brides and their families. I know that I can’t please everyone. I know now that the customer isn’t always right and that I’m not in the wrong for pointing it out to them.

I also know the Small Business Association statistics that 30 percent of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50 percent during the first five years, and 66 percent during the first 10. The SBA goes on to state that only 25 percent make it to 15 years or more. Though the odds are better than the commonly held belief that most fail within two years, there are still many businesses that are closing down every year in the United States. I’ve made it longer than many, but not yet as long as most. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable enough in my chosen career path to rest easy. But that doesn’t mean I stop trying.

So, thank you for allowing me to vent. Now, I’m going to get back to sewing. Wedding gowns and costumes alike.


Until next time!


Superman’s Seamstress (or, “What a Load of Bull”)

As a girl growing up, I had a singular problem with the whole Superman/Lois Lane relationship dynamic. According to the official story, Clark Kent never told Lois – nor Jimmy Olsen nor anyone else outside his immediate family – that he was really the Man of Steel because he was afraid they’d be targeted.

Sure, I can give points for caring, but in reality every other issue of the comic book dealt with Lois being kidnapped to lure her hero into a trap because she was “Superman’s Girlfriend.” Whether or not she knew Superman’s secret identity, she was “part of the family” and prime pickings for Lex Luthor’s evil plans.

(And to the comic nerds who follow me and my musings: Yes, yes, I know, the writers of the Superman mythos finally “evolved” their story so where she now knows. But I’m a traditionalist.)

Personally, I think he never told her because he couldn’t trust her to keep her trap shut.

Now, I find myself in that exact same predicament. Because I’m privy to a secret that rivals the knowledge of Superman’s identity itself. Cue the music! Look up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… It’s… It’s…


That’s right, I’m part of the inner circle who knows the identity of the NFL team Houston Texans’ mascot.

How did I get to enjoy such a treasured secret? Simple. Because I had the honor of being selected by Toro’s human counterpart (let’s call him “Clark”) and his lovely woman to create his wedding tuxedo and perform alterations on her wedding gown for their recent nuptials.

Now, I can’t tell you how much I want to splash the wedding photos all over the interwebs, but I’ve been sworn to strict secrecy, and this is a charge I take to heart. Sure, being known as the official seamstress of Toro’s Wedding could give me some amazing street cred, but it would go against the explicit and implicit wishes of my clients, and that’s something I simply cannot do.

Photo courtesy of Magek Photography,

What I CAN tell you is that both “Clark” and his lovely bride are amazing, friendly people; honest, engaging, and honorable, just like you’d like your superhero and his gal to be. If you want proof, just check out this wedding photo courteously provided by Magek Photography showing Toro brightening people’s lives at SOMEONE ELSE’S wedding. He treasures the value of his fans and likes to give back to the community as best as he can.

And that’s no bull.


Until next time!