Q: Are your reproductions 100% exact?
A: No. In many instances, fabrics and buttons were custom made and are not available to buy. In most, the exact construction methods are unknown. Simply seeing a hundred photos of the outside of a garment doesn’t tell anyone how it’s constructed inside. However, I do strive to make them as close as possible to what you see on film or on stage, with fabrics and supplies as close to the original as possible. I painstakingly research each garment before beginning, and literally have tens of thousands of photos, both from film, stage, and behind the scenes of films and stage productions, saved on two hard drives. For many of them I have exclusive photos and have had e-mailed conversation wither with people who wore them (more so actors in stage productions) or with people somehow connected to the production, such as a relative of a costume designer. But without having opportunity to hold the garments in my hands and study them in person, an exact replica is impossible, and even then there will be slight differences. Does anyone expect the seamstress to count the number of beads or stitches?
Q: Are you a home-based business or are you a licensed business?
A: While I operate out of my office and workshop at home, Aria Couture is a licensed business, a sole proprietorship in the state of California, in addition to being a sole proprietorship in Washington. This means I hold more accountability than a home-based hobby-business. Unfortunately this also means that I must charge taxes to orders shipped to a California or Washington address, as well as certain other states. I can not waive taxes.
Q: How long does it take to get something I order?
A: There isn’t a cut and dry answer to this. Many factors come into play, such as my schedule, availability of fabrics that may need to be ordered, and how detailed your order is. At times, some orders can be filled in as few as three weeks, but at other times, it may be six months or more. A final time will be determined while placing your order, and will be part of the contract.
Q: Why do you charge so much?
All creations are made individually by me, hand-made in America, to your exact measurements. No work is outsourced to overseas sweat shops, as many big-name designers do to keep costs down. The simplest gown may easily take ten hours or more, plus the cost of fabrics and embellishments. I only use the best of both, and on this I will not waver. Anything I make will bear my name and affect my reputation.
The equipment I use is high-end and expensive. My primary sewing machine is a $5,000-Baby Lock machine. My primary embroidery machine cost close to the same. The pricy equipment I use enables me to turn out the best garments possible. The dedicated space in my home comes at a cost. My time researching and the books and travel to see garments in person comes at a cost. There are a lot of expenses above and beyond fabrics and some thread that are often ignored.
Ironically the more a gown costs, the less I earn per hour.
Q: Do you wash your creations before shipping?
A: Depending on the gown, I do. Some fabrics, such as silk dupioni, can’t be washed in a machine without substantially changing the appearance and crispness of a fabric. But I always at least hand-wash and hang or lay flat to dry all fabrics possible before cutting into them. The purpose for this is to make my gowns as enjoyable to wear as possible, and it’s easier to enjoy wearing one of them if you’re not worried about a water spot from spilling water in your lap.
Q: How do I care for a garment after receiving it?
A: Most items will be hand-washable, few machine-washable. I include with all creations a personal sheet with care instructions.
Q: What if I need alterations?
A: Alterations due to a mistake on my end will be made free of charge, as will minor alterations you’d like made afterward. But if the changes are substantial due to weight loss, pregnancy, inaccurate measurements, etc., then I will charge depending on the type of alteration.
Q: How can I cancel my order?
A: When an order is placed, I require a non-refundable deposit. If you need to cancel your order, this deposit is forfeit. As soon as I take a deposit, time is used immediately to calculate how much of each fabric and embellishment is required, and I go buy them at the first opportunity to ensure that they will not sell out. Therefore your deposit is used immediately, and will not be refunded. This is not negotiable.
Q: What if I need my garment in a very short time?
A: If you need an order sooner than the date given, I may be able to rush your order for an additional fee. This fee will depend on how much sooner you need it by and what I need to put on hold in my own life. If I need to take time off from my day job to have the time, then this will be factored in. I may not always be able to take a rush order.
Q: What if I need to have my order rushed after I placed it?
A: If my scheduling permits, your order can be rushed for an additional fee. I absolutely can not guarantee that your order can be rushed. If not, you can either forfeit your deposit and cancel your order, or keep your order at your original date.
Q: Can I supply my own materials?
Yes. This is something we will need to discuss ahead of time.
Q: Why don’t you have garments ready to sell right now?
When you go to the store and buy a dress, it is made to generic sizes. What happens to the dresses of other sizes that don’t sell? The cost of those is built into the one you bought. Businesses can’t afford to operate if they don’t recover the cost of goods not sold. I do not have the space to store items waiting to be sold, nor the funding or desire to spend time making garments that will not fit like a glove.
Occasionally, however, I may have an abandoned order, a prototype, etc., available for immediate purchase. This will be the exception, not the rule.
If you have further questions, please feel free to ask.