Friday, June 21, 2013

Customer Appreciation Week...or Month..or LIFETIME!

Holy JUNK, this is hard. I mean, I'm already emotional all the time, considering I just teared up and sobbed over the LEGO MOVIE preview before Monsters University.  To say that I cried, fretted, freaked out, and broke down when I found out what my awesome customers did for me would be the basic understatement of the year. Just a quick run-down of what I'm talking about.

*In April, we rolled our SUV and trailer 1 and a half times, landing upside down and demolishing both vehicles. We're idiots, and didn't have full-coverage auto insurance, and though we didn't lose much inventory, I definitely had tons of damaged stuff and all manner of...adventure. Our lives were spared, thank the heavens, and really, the only lasting thing is that my leg looks like me and a bunch of vicious cats played a game of Twister. I was also pregnant, but the baby is fine, considering it's kicking me every time my husband is around (and actually, every time we watch an episode of the old Star Trek....I guess we all  love Shatner, eh?)

*Somehow, over the years, I've managed to build up the most amazing following of customers (is there a better name for you girls? "customers" sounds so business-y, and I feel like it's more of a "corset-sister" relationship.......however, if I call you corset sisters, people will think I'm managing a very large brothel.), and I truly can't say that I deserve any of your kindness. I have received astonishing gifts at festivals, ranging in everything from jewelry to dinosaur shaped muffins, as well as corset shaped cookies, dipped strawberries, and even a freaking SEWING machine (although, to be fair, that was for my daughter, Brynn.).  Once again, I can't even find words to thank you all properly. I'm sort of wretched at making friends, so when I have so many gracious, selfless people offering such friendship and kindness, I don't even know what to do with it.

*A group of my corset sistahs went behind my back and did the most marvelous, stunning, kind thing for me that anyone has EVER done (and this includes having a boyfriend build me an electric guitar when I was 17.). When they found out about my wreck, they rallied together LOTS of help and raised a stupendous amount of money for me!   Since I'm not 100% clear on the details, I encourage any of the ladies to jump in with comments on the page, as you're more knowledgeable than I! (Rachelle, Megan, Ashley...all of you seductresses? Feel free to chime in!) I know that one of the fundraisers involved artisans donating pieces and people bidding on them, which  is basically AWESOME! Heck, it's a good thing I didn't know about it, because after seeing some of the pieces, I, MYSELF wanted them...and I guess it would have been odd to donate money to myself.  But, SERIOUSLY, ladies, how could I ever  properly thank you? Nothing feels adequate. And when I combine your generous donation with all of the prayers, thoughts, tears, smiles, encouragement, and pure love that I've gotten in  HEAPS?  No words could ever do any of this justice. Heck, if I were somehow able to make free corsets  for the whole population, that would be a pittance of gratitude (although, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "No, Michelle! That's a GREAT way of saying "thank you!!").
This is a piece of artwork one of my customers did for me! Holy NIGHT! Um...P.S. If you want me to give a website for you here, let me know. You deserve some serious credit! This is one of my favorite things I've ever gotten!

*To be completely honest, I had lost my way a bit this year, feeling like perhaps I had essentially "had my day in the sun" and I should maybe go on to something else for a profession. It's not because I don't love what I do, but I felt like perhaps all of these prodigious roadblocks were a sign from the heavens, trying to tell me to do something else.  I have done such serious and deep thinking, even staying awake at nights and just agonizing.  I felt like maybe my creative spark had gone out, and that I just didn't have anything to offer to the world.  And besides, how can someone POSSIBLY have such an amazing job? It's sort of insane. People can't just "live" with such blessings all the time. It's not sustainable.... ;)
 However, the outpourings of love that support that I have received in the last few months have totally changed my mind. I have been recharged, and the spark is burning again. 

I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out some sensational way to honor and thank my customers, and I think I have the beginnings of it! This is an unofficial announcement,  so don't jump to anything yet, but for our next magazine, I want it to be absolutely filled with gorgeous pictures of my customers, in all shapes, sizes, and personalities!  This will be the "look book" that I hand out at festivals, and I think it would be just perfect if the book were filled with REAL women wearing my corsets and pieces in real life! There is some serious details to figure out, but I can see this being a truly positive thing, as far as the image that I want my company to convey.  I know we'll get a lot of submissions, and I can't afford to print out and give out 200 page booklets, so we'll have to do some serious figuring on the contest, but I'm hoping it will be one of our biggest promotions ever! 

Right now, I front the bill out of my own pocket to give out our look books, and it's very rewarding to be able to give people a "piece" of our company, even if they can't afford a corset. They light up when they find that they can take away something solid and inspiring. In fact, lots of people come to the festival one day, take a book, see that we're real human beings, making these costumes with our own hands, and then COME BACK in the next day to purchase something. 

With the generous donations I've been given, I plan on giving right back, and spending the time and money to run the contest, pick a marvelous portfolio of ladies, check and double-check  legal stuff (boring documents, release forms....all that fun stuff....speaking of which, if any of you already knows about the legalities of using pictures of other people and permission....let me know!) and getting THOUSANDS of these books  printed up so we can include one in every order, as well as giving out tons at our events. 

Obviously, I couldn't have done any of this without you, which sounds cheesy...but I can't imagine anything better than something smothered in cheese. 


  1. You just need a standard model release form, I am sure you could find one online with the correct verbiage!

  2. I had wondered what the conclusion was for the auction and I'm so glad to hear our donations made a difference! I've never bought a piece from Damsel (because I ain't gots the $) but I love your work and your attitude towards the people you serve. As a designer and artist myself, I can only imagine how devastating your accident was even just on a psychological level and I would feel so blessed to have people reach out to me- just as I felt it was a blessing to be part of lifting you back up and firing your engines back up! <3

  3. Oh Michelle! You deserve all of the good stuff and more. You are fantastic for making all of us women feel and look amazing. Don't stop your revolution. Congratulations on your new bebe too!

    Also, I think we're going by "Damselites" :)

    Excited about the Look Book!

    Love ya, Tierany

  4. You need a release form from the photographer as well as the model. I'd assume it's similar to selling stock photography, which I've done before.
    I'm so going to submit a picture! I love your stuff and always point people your direction when they are looking for corsets!
    I wore one to my work Christmas party last December, I've never ever gotten compliments on clothes before, I was stopped many times that night! I feel confident in your clothes. If I were rich I'd so be wearing your corsets every day!

  5. What about doing them on cd's so the cost could go down and still be in color? It's not quite the same but might be more economical?

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  7. Michelle, we love you! We were all so excited to do just anything and everything we could to help out. It was so much fun keeping the secret and the build up to the auction was so intense!! It was A COMPLETE win/win, because we got to help out our most fabulous Mama Bear (seriously, my husband has referred to your booth as my "mothership"), AND we got to SHOP! I mean come on, US? SHOPPING? Done!

    But even more than that, this horrible accident brought our whole little community together in a way that I think has changed a lot of us. I haven't met these Damselites face to face, but I consider a great many of them dear friends. We were a group before the accident, but in the aftermath I think we've really cemented ourselves as a family. You, Michelle, have brought us together and bonded us in a corset-wearing sisterhood. Personally, through the Damselite community, I've gotten the support to lose weight (not to lose weight for the hell of it, but as a by product of being healthier), to really shine in my own skin (I put effort into my appearance now cause I have the confidence that I'm a pretty smokin lady in my own right), and to share that bright, dazzling person with others.

    I, as a customer and as a woman, cannot thank you enough for showing me who I can be, and for attracting so many positive, wonderful, and amazing others to surround myself with. Purchasing your incredible corsetry for the rest of my life will only be a small token of my everlasting gratitude.

    Much love, as always,
    Dani Trzcinski

  8. Here is the link to the album with all the auction items. Each photo has the donator and crafter/artisan behind the item. Please support our wonderful artisans who donated! And thank you to everyone who bid!

    And for those who wanted to see the wish page again:

    It really all started with people saying they wished we could donate money to help you recover and really took off from there. I still cannot believe we had a full blown auction put together within a week! I don't know anyone else who could have garnished such love and support. <3 I know we all have times in our lives when we struggle with if its all really worth it. We may be some of the craziest group of customers out there, but we are so happy to have you guys and gals to be our corsetier and costuming team!

    Love the Damselites!

  9. The CD passout is a nice idea in theory but her product has so much immediate visual impact it really needs to be a look-book or a postcard size business card for her to hand out. However, I could totally understand the 200 page catalog analogy! :D

    Michelle - you've given so much joy to so many ladies, and it is truly my pleasure to keep you in business either through buying your goodies or contributing to the fundraising effort. And dig the art nouveau pic!!

    Nicole Mix

  10. Take care Michelle! You put a lot of effort into what you do! You deserve the support! :)

  11. We love us some damsel fam! Please let us know. I have some great shot of me and sissy in our beautiful DitD duds. Been wearing your skirts to all my steam punk events and they are always a hit.

    Big hugs!
    -Kathryn Poe

  12. My photographer said that all she would want is photo credit if you used my pics. And I will sign whatever you want :) I'm am glad you and your family are alright and you deserve every bit of kindness and gifts you are given!!!!

    Natalie Tuck

  13. Michelle,
    My daughter and i love your corsets. I am so excited to be five inches down and am ready to order my new corset.i have worn my old one several times, and not just at fairs. I get tons of compliments and i send revenge i know to your site. Your corsets are amazing and give me all the support i need as well as the adjustment i want to make about myself. You are amazing and an absolutely gorgeous human being.
    Keep up the great work that you do.


  14. I'm so bummed I missed the chance to help. What rock was I living under???? But I'm so glad the Damselettes ;) can muster together to show support to you, and one another. I'm always excited when I see some one at faire in a Damsel piece.It's like an instant bond and great conversation starter. <3

    P.S. As someone who doesn't cry easily, that video had me getting teary. :)

  15. I finally got to wear my new corset out to its very first faire, and it made me so proud to wear it when other people recognized it as your work! And I love seeing your pieces on other girls, too. This is one "corset-sister" you have for life. ;)

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  17. Michelle, if you need any help with the Look Book layout, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'd love to volunteer my design skills to help further your fantastic mission! Shoot me an email at KALoveric at gmail dot com.

  18. It isn't just because your customers are good people (although they totally are) that these things happen, it is because you are awesome and great at what you do! There are a ton of corsets, skirts, and accessories out there to buy, but I find myself only wanting to buy them from you when I can, because even though we have never met in person, you seem like a super rad lady who cares about your customers. Keep up the good work!

    Ps. The book idea sounds great!

  19. I love the look book idea! PS you should offer spats as a steampunk product line. Just an awesome thought:)

  20. Great Idea! thanks for Sharing!

  21. I am a professional photographer, and in order to provide yourself and the ladies whose photographs you select the maximum protection under copyright law, you will need to have a model release form tailored to the specific needs of what you intend to use the photographs for - your look book. I would *strongly* advise having a copyright lawyer draft the release, because while you won't be profiting directly from the look book (i.e. through the sale of the look book itself), there will be sales as a result of the book being sold (I hope that makes sense hahaha). You could then send the release form out to the ladies interested in being in the look book (maybe make it download-able on your site?) and they would need to sign it and send it back to you (all of this could be done in PDF form). If they have a professional photographer take the pictures they submit, the photographer would need to sign the release as well. Any ladies submitting will need to know if you don't have a release form, the photo can't go into the look book. This protects them AND you and any photographers involved as well.

    Hope that helps :)

  22. I'm going to a masquarade ball at the end of September and promise to take a ton of pictures. I'll be decked out to the nines, in everything of yours, so I hope to finally send you some photos.

    Thank YOU for letting your customers feel like a part of your company. And for being so caring.

  23. I am not sure how I ended up here but it has been a true blessing reading this blog tonight. What you do for your customer's is something that means the world to them. What they did for you was absolutely amazing. For a group of people to reach out to a person that they only know over the internet and help them them in the capacity that they did is a true blessing. This is proof that there is still a lot of good in this world.
    Keep doing what your doing because even if you can't see it, you are changing the lives of ladies you makes corsets for. You give them strength, courage, and power to conquer the world.

  24. Astonishing blog..........!
    For photo designing template & make your photo more attractive and good looking