Two years ago, business management junior Lauren McCall and interdisciplinary studies junior Judith Larson were drawn together by their love for anime, manga and cosplay.
They’ve gone into business together from their shared passion. The two own and operate Celebrate with a Princess, a business where McCall dresses up as a princess and entertains at birthday parties and celebrations. Larson makes all of the outfits for the business as well as operating her own business called Sew What: Costumes and Cosplays.
“We’re like best friends,” Larson said. “She calls me her fairy seamstress, of all things, and she is my princess.”
They will be debuting their latest project, Alter Ego Cosplay, at A-Kon on Friday in an effort to market their businesses and their reputations as cosplayers. Zelda and Sheik, and Link and Shadow Link from The Legend of Zelda series are characters they’ve cosplayed before, who share similar aspects of contrasting sides, or alter egos.
“We call it Alter Ego Cosplay because we adore being characters that are so closely connected, because she and I are like sisters,” Larson said.
Conventions such as A-Kon and AnimeFest are centered on anime fandom, video games and pop culture. Voice actors, publishers and artists fly from all over the world to make appearances in guest panels and merchant booths.
McCall said she cosplayed for the first time at last year’s A-Kon and was surprised by the response she received from attendees at the event.
“I kind of felt like a celebrity,” McCall said. “I would have people come up to me for pictures, and if I was stopped for a picture, then 10 other people would come up to take more pictures.”
Cosplayers can take anywhere from a day to several months to put together their costumes, Larson said. From searching for accessories at thrift stores to sewing together a dress, Larson said cosplayers can end up spending more than a thousand dollars creating a costume.
Melissa Mose, aka Megumibish, judge for A-Kon’s 2014 cosplay contest, said she has been sewing and cosplaying for about 11 years. Mose said she will be judging contestants based on costume accuracy in relation to the source character, construction of the costume, performance on stage and crowd reactions.
Mose said that the community at these conventions allows like-minded individuals that enjoy these genres to become more social.
“I feel that some cosplayers are more introverted than other people, so sometimes wearing that cosplay gives them that social interaction,” Mose said.
Just like McCall’s experience with popularity, Mose said that positive feedback is the main drive to improving their passion.
“If there’s as a positive reaction to you doing a character that they appreciate, that just pushes you more,” Mose said.
This is the same reason that Mose and Larson have continued to create and improve their costumes and design year round. Larson and McCall attend these conventions because it’s something they can enjoy together.
“For me and my friends, we love doing it because it’s a way that we can go out there and live out our favorite heroes, as well as just to go out and have a good time on a weekend,” Larson said.