The past two years of lockdowns and cancelled events, never knowing week to week what’s going on, weddings postponed and cancelled, supply chain issues and availability of the fabrics I need, etc., has really taken a toll on me. It’s taken something I’ve loved to do for most of my life, and turned it into a major source of stress and outright anxiety. Believe it or not, it’s very, very rough to pour your heart into something and then having it cancelled or abandoned without word and with unpaid balances, and it’s very, very stressful having to figure out what to do when a supply or fabric becomes unavailable after you’ve ordered it, and very stressful dealing with the clients of a different business altogether.
It also doesn’t help when an event in cancelled and a client forces a refund of their deposit because they no longer need what they commissioned…after you’ve already bought the fabrics and have started their gowns. I’ve learned the hard way that, if someone disputes a charge before you’ve shipped an item, then their card issuer won’t care that the reason is the balance wasn’t paid. They’re getting the deposit back, and guess who has to pay for it. Me. I even had a local client at the start of all of this who picked up her gown in person, then disputed the charge when her wedding was cancelled and I refused to let her return the gown for a refund. She ended up getting a refund, and since there wasn’t proof of shipping, she got to keep the gown too. Makes the abandoned and cancelled orders preferable. I don’t usually like talking negatively about clients because most have been absolutely wonderful, but there are three in particular who’ve broken me, and right now, I’m dealing with a fourth, another abandoned commission with an unpaid balance wanting either a refund of a finished commission or for it to be sent without the balance paid.
About HALF of the commissions I’ve started over the last two years have been abandoned by their commissioners, usually due to the events they were for being cancelled, though in a couple cases, without any word at all, and I’ve been unable to reach them by mail or by phone. This actually includes a well-known celebrity as well as a minor celebrity (I do not disclose names, even on non-abandoned commissions). But the ones mentioned above…
The only commissions that have been followed through on reliably have been things for children.
Despite having a contract that covers abandoned commissions, it’s still extremely stressful becsue imagine this: You’re paid for the supplies to do a job and a bit of the labor, and then you spend 80 hours of time on a job. But then never get paid for it, and worse, while doing the work, you now have it in your head that there’s a good chance you won’t be.
So in addition to the sadness of cancelled events, there’s also so, so much time of unpaid labor that, honestly, feels like wasted time after a while.
I know times can get unexpectedly rough, but frankly, that’s not a good reason to treat me like this.
This doesn’t touch on supplies. When I give a quote based on expected availability, then that thing goes out of stock with no restock date and how I’m having to pay as much as 4x the expected cost on the secondary market, it’s rough. Rougher still is when it’s for something that gets abandoned.
It also doesn’t touch on how that stupid, stupid business in Massachusetts, Aria Couture Inc, still hasn’t made it clear that I’m not them, and I’m STILL dealing with their angry clients, and I’ve had to deal with pissed off reviews meant for them being left for ME instead (there is still one woman who refuses to remove her review for them, despite acknowledging having left of for the wrong business in DMs). Having to continue acting as defacto customer service for that business is UGH.
So right now, I’m finishing a teacher’s Titanic dinner gown, and I’m hoping so hard that the school event that this is for will get to go ahead. It didn’t last year, nor the year before.
But after this, I’m planning to basically take this year off. Any commissions I would even consider will have to have something especially compelling, or from a repeat client, because I just don’t want something I’ve been so passionate about to be something I cry in stress about because I haven’t been able to reach the person it’s for in a couple weeks, or have the absolute heart-punch of something no longer being available after an order was placed.
Still send inquiries, but just be forewarned that there’s a real chance I may pass. I’d rather love what I’m doing and making rather than to be stopping because I’m crying in stress about, even if that means taking time off to wait out the ongoing state of the world. Hopefully, by next year, things will be reliably normal enough that I can look forward to sewing again.
There are two things I’ve been doing that have been a source of some happiness for me. One is that I’ve started on an English degree. Yes, classes are ALL still remote. 100% remote. But it’s something reliable that I can do, and I need reliability. It’s an actual mental health need. I’m in my second term, more than full time (4.0 so far).
And a very dear friend and I are writing books. The first in our series is even available for preorder though Barnes & Noble, to be release February 6th. 1930’s mafia. This is another reliable thing, though I admit that it’s stressful not knowing how much longer it’ll take to get Library of Congress control numbers, which are taking more time due to remote staffing, and FOIA requests (we go hardcore in researching…) more or less have no timeline now either, for the same reason, but lockdowns and cancelled events actually mean more time to write.
So these are the things I’ve been able to look forward to.
Sewing will fit in around these things, and will need to have something compelling about them (or be for children). I think that, on this page, I’ll spend a bit more time sharing some historical research that Lisa and I are doing for this series.
I just need a break and a chance to regroup. I need a chance to get back to a point where I love doing this again without it being a source of constant stress and anxiety. I had a breakdown over it in November, and then delayed addressing this because I just couldn’t do it. But just having written this to post address it makes me feel a bit better, and that indicates that this is the right move I need to make for myself right now. I’m human and have limits on how much I can handle, and I hit that limit almost a year ago, and ignored it, and just can’t anymore.
So please, just bear with me this year let me know what historical and fashion eras interest you, and let’s keep trying to get through the ongoing uncertainty in the world.