A few weeks back, we featured “11 Awesomely Geeky Aprons” on GeekMom. People love aprons because they provide a nice excuse to squeeze a little cosplay in everyday—or at all, if you like to keep your cosplay behind closed doors.
However, as the owner of the online shop Darling Army, cosplay artist Amanda Marin makes designs that you’d be proud to wear almost anywhere. Heck, I’d wear this Pokeball skirt or even this Baymax pinafore to the grocery store, if I could.
Amanda doesn’t just create aprons, but she also does dresses, skirts, bibs, tights, and more. She aims to add one new design to her site every week, but she’s also pretty open to suggestions. She just isn’t always open to new orders. In fact, she typically only takes on 20 projects at a time, which can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to create. When she does take on new orders, she usually fills up within 4 to 5 minutes. (Mark your calendar; the next order window will be open on Sunday, September 13, 2015, at 7:00 a.m. PDT.)
Although she constantly has orders to fill, I got the chance to ask Amanda about her online shop, her inspirations, and some of her best-sellers.
GeekMom: Please describe your shop…
Amanda Marin: I focus on making cosplay alternatives for cute enthusiasts. In general, I take male characters or objects from shows and adapt their designs to be more flattering for a woman’s body. Instead of making full cosplay or dresses, I focus on adapting these designs into kimono dresses and pinafores which can easily be adjusted for multiple sizes and removed, which makes them ideal for long convention days. Have you ever tried to even take a simple eating break during a con in full cosplay? It’s a nightmare!
GM: How long have you been doing this?
AM: I’ve been sewing my own cosplay for almost 15 years (since I was 12), but I’ve only been offering them to other people for the past four years. When I was working towards my teaching credential, I couldn’t hold a normal job because I was student teaching full-time during the day and going to classes at night. Since I didn’t have money for Christmas presents that year, I made my friends fandom pinafores with leftover fabric and they loved them! Eventually, I decided I’d have to start selling my designs online since it was my only job option. The rest is history!
GM: Would you say that most people order for cosplay or everyday wear? Or do you even know?
AM: It depends. Most people order the pinafores and kimono dresses for conventions and specific costume events. The skirts and capelets are more for everyday wear. My printed dresses and tights are new, but I think a lot of people are ordering those for everyday and casual convention days.
GM: Where do you get your ideas?
AM: From whatever I am playing, watching, or reading at the time. I have a sketch folder with over 400 designs that haven’t come to the store yet. Every time I join a new fandom or see a new character design, I usually add a couple sketches to that folder.
GM: What is your top seller?
AM: That’s actually pretty hard to say! For a while, my David Tennant Suiting Pinafores were on top, but the addition of kimono dresses has brought a whole new group to the store. For now, I’d say the Galaxy Tardis Kimono Dress has been the most popular design for the past two months. It changes based on the season. Convention season usually sees more anime and gaming-inspired designs, while Halloween leans towards Doctor Who.
GM: Is this your full-time job?
AM: Yes! So much for that teaching degree. I work 10 to 15 hours a day on orders, depending on the season. Halloween usually sees me working from morning ’til night.