One of the surprise repeat confessions that I receive from my customers is how intimidated they were to reach out and make their first appointment. Apparently not attending a shop front business can make clients very uneasy. Concerns raised were along the lines of “Will it be too expensive when it is custom made? What if I don’t like her designs? I will feel so guilty if I chose not to proceed with an order.”
Now to let you in on the first custom design secret- design consultations are a two way street.
A new client always means a surge of creativity for me. I love design consults.
When I sit and listen to the client describe the feel and look they are seeking for their day, I am being asked to think outside my own experiences and put myself in their shoes. So many of my original designs owe their existence to the design consults with my clients as new thinking makes me contemplate components or designs outside of my usual style. If you chose not to go ahead with a design, I consider that I have already received payment for my services in the form of creativity (and often a new design for my range.)
Clients are not wasting my time, they are giving me theirs.
Now for the second little secret – Custom made does not necessarily mean more expensive and it often means that your dream headpiece becomes a reality rather than a compromise.
Many of my clients will arrive with pictures of a few different styles that they love, but they can’t decide which style is their true favourite. Custom design means that clients may not have to choose one or the other. I can combine the favourite elements of the pieces and turn them into a truly unique piece. Further design appointments ensure that there is time to tweak the designs as they progress, giving the client as much or as little creative control as they feel they need.
Compare this with on-line purchasing. How many of us have ordered that on-line gem, only to be disappointed when the item arrives and we find that it does not suit as much as that lovely model on the webpage? How many of us return items we are not happy with? My cupboard is full of these never used, not so perfect gems and my wallet is the much lighter for all of them.
My business is home based so I do not have to contend with the expenses of running a shop front or employing staff. The lack of these overheads is reflected in my pricing.
Appointment times can be more accommodating and flexible for the busy schedules of today.
My design consults are free and most definitely “No Obligation”.
So what does actually happen after you have made an appointment to come and see me? What can you expect?
Firstly, you will be welcomed with a smile ….
I will then usher you through to my workroom where we will sit down.
One of the first things I will ask you is “How do you picture yourself on the day?” My job is to listen to what image you have created in your head for your day and to start to think of details that could bring this to life.
I will ask you about being indoors, outdoors, church, beach, overseas etc? All these questions help me to ensure that I have thought of details such as size of package for travelling, religious requirements, anchorage of your piece, and suitability of the piece for the type of occasion.
You do not need to know what you want exactly at this stage that is the fun of a design consult. It can lead you down many untravelled paths. I often say to clients, I learn more from what they don’t like because then when they see something they do like, it is very clear to me they feel that way.
If you do have a concept in mind at this time, I can create a simple prototype at this meeting for you to visually check that the proportions, height, size etc in the pictures are suitable and this is where client input is crucial. I can advise tweaks, additions or alternatives for you to consider, but the design is reached collaboratively. If you are unable to visualise the piece at this time enough to be comfortable with the direction, I will recommend that I create the prototype to a more advanced stage for you to come and check again before you make any decision. I like my customers to be confident with their design choice and to be comfortable that it is going to suit the occasion.
Please be aware that I will not copy other artists’ works. I can create a piece that will echo the elements but still be a unique design.
I am very happy to share with new brides the insights I have received from years of feedback from bridal clients and photographers. The accessories are often an afterthought to the dress, but if not chosen correctly, can instead of complimenting the outfit, distract from the overall look.
I will walk a bride through the many varied headpiece sizes and positions and draw their attention to how they would look in photographs that may not have been considered. I will explain the types, materials, cuts and falls of the many varied veils available along with the positioning of them to highlight areas they wish to draw focus towards or away from.
Once a design has been settled upon, the next stage is for me to send you a written quote wherein I will detail the important notes and preferences made at the consults for you to check prior to proceeding.
Custom design items may not be given a flat price initially as often there may be a design variation that the client may decide on as the piece progresses which may affect labour or material costs. How I manage these variations is to supply a minimum and maximum range for you in the quote so that as many of these variables can be accounted for. At any time that I think a client’s request would be out of the quotation range, I would notify them of this before commencing the changes. Often I find the end cost will fall in the mid range of the quote.
If you are happy with the quotation, a written email reply from you accepting the quotation is sufficient to place your order in my workbook. If the quote is not accepted, the design is never commenced.
As an example of how the collaborative approach works, here is one of my recent Brides “A’s” design journey.
I received an email from “A” in which she sent me a few pictures of headpiece designs that had interested her as well as her dress before her appointment.
“ A” loved the feather band look but not as solid as shown plus she also wanted a diamante feature to compliment her dress sleeves. I have tried to find the source for these images where it is not shown so that I can credit the designer or business but was unable. If you know who they belong too, let me know so I can give the proper credits.
At the design consult, “A” decided that she liked the look of the band extending further across the crown so we achieved that by breaking up the diamante motif and adding the smaller portion over the crown.
Her hair was to be in a side bun leaving a space to the rear of the head looking sleek. After discussions about having more points of interest in her photos, it was decided to extend the feather pad to the rear to add a feature that would appear in photos taken from behind of from the side. Below is an image of the two feather pads that I created for the design. “A” liked a more feathery edge than a solid line, so the feather placement was a little wider so as to leave gaps in the outside edges.
Here is the completed design. I always try to build flexibility into headpieces to allow for last minute changes to hair styles etc on the day (often happens). For this piece, I made the rear feather pad moveable so that it could be re positioned up or down on the day. It is also on a wire frame that can be curved and molded to the head and hair shape so as not to flatten the style if it was not as sleek as planned.
The diamante pieces also have a flexibility in that the shape has support that means they can be changed or tilted on the day for better positioning if required. This piece has multiple anchorage points so that “A” would not have to worry about the piece slipping or moving on the day as the hairdresser could use multiple pins as well as a substantial metal hair comb to keep it securely in place.
This piece is now on its way to the other side of the world for “A’s” special day in late April. Once the day is over,”A” has given me permission to post photos of her wearing it but as for now it is still a big secret……
To help you to see if custom made is more expensive, the final cost for this piece was $260.00 as the diamante motif was not Swarovski crystals which managed to reduce costs.
I hope that this post has made the thought of having a custom designed headpiece not so daunting for you, and I would love to help if you are having trouble finding “just the right one.”