After 12 years in nonprofit arts fundraising here in Dayton, John Faas decided “that it was time to pursue what I was passionate about and what made me truly happy.”
And that’s how the brand new business John Faas Designs, LLC, Independent Costume designer and builder was born. John shares “the transition has been challenging, but far more rewarding for me personally and professionally.”
While he’s been busy painting and setting up his new studio, John found the time to tell us a little about how this business was born.
When did you start sewing and who taught you?
I learned to sew around the age of 12 or 13. My grandmother taught me to sew on an old machine I borrowed from a neighbor. I continued sewing since then. As a senior at Chippewa High School in Doylestown, Ohio I costumed and entire production of CHILDREN OF EDEN, which I was also cast in!
What’s the first piece of clothing you made and were proud of?
Probably the first time I recreated Carol Channing’s iconic, red Harmonia Gardens gown from the musical, “HELLO, DOLLY!” I was a freshman musical theatre major at Wright State. The attempt was a valiant effort, but my finishing skills left a great deal to be desired. The costume was a hit though!
I’ve since made 3 more versions of the gown, the last one being the most accurate to the original and my personal favorite.
Thus far, my biggest pleasure has been having the Rubi Girls wear my Dolly costumes at The Show Must Go On, their 2017 Thanksgiving show.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Thus far, my inspiration comes from an image or a silhouette, and I usually reference the work of well known costume designers. Factually, I love doing recreation or restoration work, where I can build replicas of famous designs. I prefer to build, rather than design I suppose.
My favorite recreation thus far has been the Ascot dress from the film adaptation of the musical MY FAIR LADY that I built for Rubi Girl, Minnie Skirt (Alex Everett), pictured right.
How did you decide to open your business?
Once I decided to take the leap and chase the dream, I reached out to a couple sources.
Firstly, it was my hope to be able to purchase the inventory from the ACT ONE Costume Company on 5th Street which closed down in December 2017. I had a brief phone conversation with the owner regarding his 18,000 piece inventory. Unfortunately, that’s where the conversation stopped for me because I knew I would never be able to offer a competitive price at this point in the game. I would need a major investment from someone to even consider moving forward with that.
However, to honor the local history of the name ACT ONE Costumes, I filed my business under the name ACT TWO Costume Company and John Faas Designs, LLC and will do business as both.
Next I spoke with Jerid Martel and Bruce Lindsey of MJ’s on Jefferson. They had recently (along with Matt Ross) purchased the building where they opened their new MJ’s in 2014 and had business space for lease. Initially, when I was scouting ACT ONE, I wanted to renovate the 4th floor of their building. However, again, not in my price range lol.
So we agreed on three smaller, but sufficient suites on their 3rd floor. We moved in early last month and I’ve started painting and getting situated. Thanks to some dear friends, my wonderful husband (Mike Embree), and a very generous benefactor, I have been able to sort of hit the ground running.
My long term goal is to build collections for every major theatrical production and then become a fully functioning costume rental business. Dayton has so much theatre and the drag community here is massive. We desperately deserve and need a fabulous costume shop!
Who is an ideal client for you?
Someone who communicates their vision clearly, and is responsive. Building clothing is personal. Think about it, the whole point of hiring someone to build a garment for you is to have exactly what you want and feel amazing in it!
As it is now, my primary clientele will most-likely consist of drag performers and theatre companies….and what could possibly be more fun than that?!!
What’s the process for someone who would like to hire you to make them an outfit and about how long does it take?
First and foremost, I like to have a conversation with the client to get a clear picture of what they desire. Then we discuss the shape and fabrics. All fabrics are approved by the client before they are purchased. Then, I must measure the client thoroughly.
Each project takes a different amount of time, determined by me and based on the client’s deadline. More elaborate garments obviously require a longer build time. More expensive or delicate fabrics will also vary in their own price but also in labor.
Prices vary depending on many different situations. I usually quote a price before any agreements are made, etc. Upon completion of the garment, final balance is due at the time of delivery….or I keep the garment. Of course, with all of this being very new, I’m certain I will learn infinitely more about what to do and what not to do.
Do you only make clothes?
No! I also make hats. I’ve made nearly all of my own headpieces and hats for all of my costumes. I haven’t ventured into blocking my own hat frames yet….but I am in the process of designing and building my own line of fascinator hats! Details to come!
Are you a drag performer?
Ha! Yes, and no. I have performed live as Carol Channing on multiple occasions. I don’t lipsync like most drag performers do. As a trained actor and singer, I do it live. I don’t have a drag persona per say. I really only ever appear in drag as a famous theatre star or character…usually as Dolly Levi and I rarely actually perform.
John Faas Designs LLC
is physically located at 24 North Jefferson Street, 3rd Floor
Dayton, OH 45402 directly above MJ’s on Jefferson.
For more info please contact John Faas at 937 305 9552 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Website is currently under construction, but coming soon! www.act2costumes.com)