Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Once Upon A Bustle ~ Esther Skandunas

As a fan of dimensional creativity, it was not happenstance to become enchanted by Esther Skandunas' shop Once Upon a Bustle on Etsy. My preoccupation with television revival of 1800 Sleepy Hollow is well known to my friends. I am enchanted by actor Tom Mison'charmingly innocent portrayal of Ichabod Crane.  If you have not seen this show think dusty boots, long hair and 1800s clothing. All hot and flustered fanning aside, I find  similar creative ingenuity and trademark authenticity in Esther Skandunas' work. Hence, my understandable interest in asking her to share her story. You can find Esther on Facebook, too. Enjoy!

I started out very young. My mother sewed most of my clothes when I was little, and I loved to watch her. I began by playing with her fabric and lace scraps by creating Barbie clothes out of them. My mother noticed how much I loved to make these little scrap fabric clothes, so she decided that she would show me how to use the sewing machine at age 5.

My love for creating and sewing grew quickly and has never stopped. I get so excited about new projects and figuring out the creation process for very difficult items. For example, I am the costume designer for the band Steam Powered Giraffe. The costumes aren't what I would call simple. I have had to learn how to create with lighting and metal; two things that I can say are very recent additions to my creation vocabulary.

You probably wonder why I call the items that I make creations. Well, before I can sew or tailor anything, I have to first start with an idea. Then from that point I have to create the pattern, which is not as easy process in itself. I have to think 3-dimensionally while creating this flat paper pattern, so that when I cut the fabric and sew it all together, it will come together with the correct shape and effect that my initial idea or design had. It can be a very challenging process, but I love challenges and always have.  I call them creations because before I ever have the idea, the pieces that I make never existed.

Between the age of 5 and becoming the costume designer for Steam Powered Giraffe, I continued learning as much as I could about sewing. I learned how to make my own clothes in Junior High. In High School I was lucky to attend a school that had a Fashion Production Program on campus. There, I learned how to use industrial sewing machines, and, let’s just say that the teacher knew me really well by the end of my high school career! I was in that class every chance that I could get. I made the majority of my own clothes in high school.

At the age of 17, right after I graduated from high school, I

was hired at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego as a seamstress. I think I was the youngest person that they had ever hired at that point. I worked and went to Community College. I studied fashion design. But I must say that the best education that I received was at The Old Globe Theatre. That is where I was introduced to the making of menswear. My true love is menswear and I love everything about it. Men's clothing is very deceptive. To just merely look at a men's suit one may think, “Wow! That is a nice suit!” yet not realize the craftsmanship and labor that is involved.  I suggest going on Youtube and reviewing videos on the process of hand tailored suits to appreciate the intricacies of the art involved.

On my 24th birthday, I was hired at a local Community College as the Theatre Arts Department Costume Shop Foreman. I had 6 years of experience learning from the best at the Old Globe....now I was and still am in charge of my own Costume Shop. Some of my responsibilities include designing the costumes for the shows, pattern making, cutting of the patterns out of fabric, sewing, and teaching students to sew.

I opened my Etsy shop in 2010. It took off slowly, which is to be expected.When I opened my shop I believe there was only one other person on Etsy selling hand tailored menswear. It was a great time to open. My first sale got things rolling slowly, but soon picked up the pace. Because I am employed full time, I work on orders before and after my day job as well as weekends. My average day begins at 6:30AM and ends at 10PM. You have to love what you do to be able to dedicate so many hours to your creations.  Luckily I love every minute of it and find time to spend with family and friends. I have become very good at time management, and my husband also helps me whenever he has the time. I am lucky to have a strong support group around me that believes in my work, talent, and products.

In the last few years since opening my Etsy shop, I have had the privilege of working on some amazing projects. I have created menswear for Hollywood photo shoots, a few of my Etsy items have appeared on television, and I have the great honor of being Glenn Hetrick's personal tailor and clothier.

Thank you,Esther!