We have always enjoyed dressing up. My husband and I have been cosplaying for years, even before having kids or starting a photography business. Halloween planning starts in July and it involves lots of online research so that we can get our costumes just right. When my oldest son, Xander, was born we joked that the number one reason we decided to expand our family, was because we would now get to dress up with our offspring. And we literally had his Halloween costumes lined up for the next 5 years of his life before bringing him home from the hospital.
When my second, Bradyn, was born, we started our photography business. And that’s when the costumes got out of control. By dressing my children up for their photo shoots it felt like playtime, which resulted in better pictures for us. I try to create costumes that I know they will be excited to wear. My boys like all the normal kid stuff they see on television, Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, super heros…. and we do our fair share of shoots like that. But kids are also easily manipulated into liking the costumes I want them to like… so two weeks of reading Where the Wild Things Are, hand them some wild thing toys to play with and suddenly they are super on board to put on their wild thing costumes and act out scenes from the book.
I want the costumes they wear to look unique and that is why I often buy things that are handmade. There is something special about a handmade costume or prop that the store-bought products can never compete with. Whether you are a photographer looking for unique stuff or a parent looking for the perfect Halloween get-up, I always recommend going with something handmade to set yourself apart from everyone else. If you are like me and not very handy with patterns or a sewing machine, there are so many wonderful and talented artists on Etsy and most of them are happy to create a custom costume or prop just for you. However try not to wait until October or December to message them. That is when they are swamped with Halloween and Christmas orders.
SO… here is my list of go-to costume and prop shops. After days of research and chatting with designers, the shops below all get 5 stars in my book.
I am going to mention Amy’s Tangled Dreams here at the beginning and get it over with. I realize it might seem biased since we share this blog together, but I can not have a list like this without featuring her shop and she definitely deserves the praise. The best thing about Amy’s shop is she is happy to try anything you can dream up. I dream up a lot, so this often comes in handy! Her prices are great and she has a quick turn around. Amy uses amazing yarn, her hats are so soft, perfect for babies and they can also be worn as an everyday hat, not just a costume which is something I look for when investing in a product… If I can get my money’s worth by using it long after the shoot is over, it is a pleasant bonus. Amy can also make adorable crochet props for your children to play with or hold in their pictures.
I first reached out to Klassic Kreations through Etsy because I was looking for super hero capes that would work great on the beach. I was envisioning my kids playing in the sand and water while wearing super hero capes but I couldn’t decide between custom logos using their names or doing a batman/superman shoot. In the end, because their capes are double-sided, I got both and I also purchased matching masks. I highly recommend these capes for anyone looking to turn their little one into a super hero! Klassic Kreations has the largest selection of colored satin capes for all occasions. The capes are made with high quality fabrics and there are 24 shiney-bridal fabric colors to choose from. They will even make them in adult sizes. Also, check out this video: Heroes of the Bass Childhood Cancer Center. Klassi Kreations kindly donated masks and capes to Stanford children’s Hospital.
If you are looking for unique costume wings, this is the place to go. So much detail and hard work goes into making these adorable wings. They are made without any wires so they are perfect for toddlers but they look great on adults as well. Instead of using wire, the wings are quilted to create stiffness, made with felt, poly-bating and ribbon. This shop also carries creative hats, ears and horns. Lil e creations initially grabbed my attention because all the products have vibrant and beautiful colors and I knew these wings would stand out among all the store-bought ones.
Bob Williams, located in Westchester NY, is a talented carpenter and artist, my favorite manly combo. He is the guy to call if you are looking to have a custom prop built. If you pitch him your idea he’ll get the job done. We create an over the top Halloween show at my home on our front yard every year and Bob has designed and built most of our spooky set. Check out this video: This is Hallween 2011 I also call on Bob when I need props or a specific set for my studio, I rack his brain and he always creates something amazing!
I contacted Atomic Stitches because two years ago for Halloween Xander wanted to be Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. On their Etsy Shop, Atomic Stitches had a picture of a cute Jack costume worn by one of the Kardashian kids and truthfully, all I needed was a celebrity endorsement and I was sold! But I wanted a sidekick Zero costume for Bradyn and I couldn’t find anyone selling it anywhere. So, I asked Atomic Stitches to create one for me and it came out amazing! Their style is the perfect mixture of creepy and romantic. All things inspired by fantasy, fairy tales, love, nature, history and everything in between. The costumes are made with a combo of handmade and vintage items to give you that “one of a kind” look.
This past year for Halloween, Bradyn was Max from “Where the Wild Things Are” and I wanted a Wild Thing costume for Xander. I fell in love with one of the Wild Thing dolls from Half-Caff Crochet. So I decided to see if she would be willing to make a custom Wild Thing hat for us. It’s always risky when you ask a shop to make something they have never done before. Being that I have my own shop, I can understand that sort of pressure. I know it will take them more time to make than a product that they have already perfected. Even though I knew I was asking a lot of her, she was very happy to give it a try. I am happy to report that Xander’s wild thing hat came out perfect; it was exactly what I wanted. The hats and dolls at Half-Caff Crochet are all so cute and they photograph wonderfully. This is one of my favorite pictures because this hat made Xander so happy.
I originally found Fresh Squeezed on Etsy but they have recently created their own website and expanded their shop. They sell smash cake bibs, hats, outfits, little guy ties, suspenders, birthday banners and so much more. Everything you need for a one year old smash cake session. They will also help you design a set with custom colors and characters to fit your little one’s birthday theme. Smash cakes are my favorite photo shoot to plan, the kids are happily eating and smashing their cake and it is the perfect way to document their first birthday. For anyone looking for a place to order a first birthday outfit, I highly recommend this shop.
Whenever I connect with a reliable new shop, I consider it an exciting accomplishment. I enjoy collecting these resources because I love supporting unique, small businesses. These shops all have a couple things in common: Great customer service, a willingness to create custom orders, and the use of top notch materials so your items are made with quality. You can tell these handmade sellers are all talented artists and their love for their job shows in their products! So here is my list. I plan on adding to it as I find more business, so check back again for updated versions. Happy shopping!
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