I've been pretty absent from this blog as of late, and for good reason. I was faced with the unexpected task of preparing for an event I thought I was no longer in the running to vend at... on top of a full time "normie" job. To say it was a test of my resolve is an understatement. I never knew I had it in me to get home from a day at work and go straight to my sewing machine, to drawing up plans for outfits, to ironing out design flaws and figuring out things I thought I would need much longer to do. It was a challenge, but honestly, it was incredibly rewarding. This is going to be a long post so please settle down with a refreshment of your choice! I hope you will enjoy reading about what was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire life.
🍭 🍬 🎀
I was up until very late on Friday 25th August, finishing off bloomers, trying to make accessories for myself to wear, and packing everything I would need for my stall. Seemingly all of a sudden, Saturday 26th August was upon me: the day of Dream Masquerade Carnival, the tenth anniversary of the Tea Party Club, and the first ever UK Angelic Pretty event!
After a restless 5 or so hours, I had to be up again to catch my 7:51 train. And wouldn't you know it... I missed the damn train by about 30 seconds, due to not being able to make it over the train bridge with my heavy suitcase quickly enough. I watched it zoom off into the distance and tried not to cry or panic. This was OK, I told myself. There will be another train.
The next train wasn't for another half hour, and after bumping into a few other lolitas on the way to the event at the connecting service, I began dressing fully, putting on my petticoat, my beret and hair bow, and finding my wristcuffs. Not long to go.
Someone mentioned it would be easier to take the bus, so trusting in their judgement, I got the number 23 from Paddington, and off we whizzed down to Charing Cross. As it was so early, there was barely any traffic, and we got there in good time, all things considered.
At 116 Pall Mall, a lovely member of staff showed me to the lifts and took my right up to St James 1, where my table was situated. I was the last vendor to arrive and there were only 15 minutes to go until the gold ticket members would be allowed into the venue.
My neighbours were Summer Tales Boutique, who kindly helped me to set up my clothing rail after seeing me basically staring at all the pieces in confusion. About twenty minutes later, my table was more or less ready and I finally felt myself relaxing. It was going to be OK!
I stood back and admired the finished product.
It looked better than I could have hoped for, and it was then I felt truly ready for the event to begin!
It was getting to around half ten before the attendees began streaming in to have a look at the stalls, and it wasn't long before I started to make some sales! Unlike my experience at Hyper Japan last year, my bestselling items weren't the small accessories, but the bloomers and the berets! One girl walked past and flashed me her mint bloomers, excitedly telling me she'd purchased them from me in the past! Moments like that truly are the best thing; knowing that people are wearing and appreciating your work is unbelievably motivating. I spent a lot of the day feeling the fuzzies, to be honest.
My friends Sammi and Nicola came to help me, taking over so I could rush off to use the toilet, and do the many other duties that cropped up during the day. I had a quick chance that morning to have a wander around the event, and I bumped into my fellow blogging friend Miriam! She looked super cute, and we decided to get some pictures at the gorgeous backdrop in the photo area. I'm so happy that she got such a fabulous picture of me!
My coordinate matched the backdrop perfectly! It was my first time wearing a proper, full coordinate with Miracle Candy, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out, from the candy cane hold-ups that were a lucky find on eBay, to the candy patched I attached to my beret the night before (also from eBay!) I think this is the best coordinate I've ever done, so I was feeling super content!
Miriam's coordinate was so pretty! I always love her cute AP look that have the perfect balance of wearability and fanciness! We've now met in Paris and London! I wonder which city we'll get to hang out in next!? We'll have to see where future events take us!
Soon it was time to get my models ready for the fashion show. Goodness, what an experience that was. We entered the crowded, narrow changing room. The scent of stale sweat was in the air, and it felt hot and cramped. There were people undressing, casually pulling off shirts and changing into elaborate dresses. It was absolute chaos, and I loved the feeling of anticipation, and the energy that emanated from the space. Bizarrely, I felt totally in my element. I managed to find a little alcove for my models and one of their friends, and together we managed to get everybody looking just right Seemingly all of a sudden, it was time for everyone to file out, and get ready to walk. I wished my models the best of luck, and rushed off to get my camera so I could film them in the show.
Maddie joined me for the show, we ended up in the last row but one. At first I thought we had the worst seats, and then I realised this meant we would be able to see very clearly the entirety of all the models' walks. The fashion show began.
I knew my girls were further down the list, so I waited patiently as the other indie designer's pieces were presented. There were some really interesting pieces, and familiar faces wearing them.
Finally, it was my three models' turn. You can see how they did here in this video, and again here (be prepared for the cuteness). So, let me just say how unbelievably proud I felt watching them. When it was all over, I teared up and it took every ounce of self restraint for me not to let it spill over and ruin my makeup. To have models wearing my designs in a fashion show is something I could only dream of this time four years ago, when I attended my first big lolita event, Frock On! On that day, I had a handful of handmade ribbon bows to put in the bring and buy, and the fact a few of them sold motivated me to do more, to learn more, to let Sugar Trampoline take shape. To be a vendor with a whole booth's worth of items this past weekend, and people who recognised my brand... really, it was a dream come true and I will never forget it.
After the fashion show was over, and had been such a success, is when I felt I could really relax! Sales continued over the afternoon, and I got to chat to so many different people. It was great to have so many of my friends all in one place, coming to see how things were going for me, and stopping by for a quick chat in the busyness and chaos of the day. I even got filmed! You never really feel like you got to say everything you wanted to say to certain people, or as though you took all the pictures you wanted to take, but that's OK I guess. Rather than be disappointed, I can only be proud of how far I've come-- at previous events I felt isolated, anxious and out of place, often feeling too awkward to talk to people as much as I would have liked. I have so much more confidence than I ever have, and even though I still have a long way to go, I'm pleased with where I am right now, and I 100% made the most of my time at this event!
I finally got to meet Rosalynn, who I've been following since the very start of her Lolita Wonderland blog! It was great to chat to her, and especially to meet her in a super sweet AP coordinate!
Reina and Wing stopped by my stall for a quick chat and for this lovely snap! It's always great to hang out with these two gorgeous people, who are two of my oldest friends through lolita fashion!
Maddie hung around for a bit and I was pleased I got to see her awesome ringmaster style coordinate! She also patiently took photos of me at my stall. I'm always grateful for people who are OK with helping me get the picture I want, haha! She was remote vending some of her beautiful brooch series.
Your fave kawaii shopkeeper.
After getting a very short, and interrupted sleep the night before (I actually had some nightmares... I guess it was the stress of the pending event!) and rushing around all day being here, there, and everywhere, I was absolutely cream-crackered by the time the evening rolled around, to the extent I didn't have the energy to stay for the ending raffle. At 7pm, I packed up my stall, toned down my coord to make public transport easier, and headed home.
If it wasn't already clear, I had an absolutely incredible time at Dream Masquerade Carnival! It was a huge push outside my comfort zone and I loved every minute of it. It was a confidence boost seeing people admiring my brand's offerings, and having several people stop by my stall after the fashion show to ask when my cherry print series would be available (soon. Just let me have a couple weeks off from sewing first, haha!), and to sell a lot of pieces of the course of the day. I did better in a single day at DMC with only a few hundred attendees than I did over three days at Hyper Japan, with tens of thousands of attendees. It's clear what my niche is, much as I might try to run away from it.
Surprisingly, and somewhat annoyingly depending on how you look at it, this past weekend really re-ignited my love for lolita. I don't think I have ever felt so good in any outfit ever, and I don't particularly want to give up on that feeling, or the strong sense of community I felt surrounded by people who have grown to become good friends over time.
So, Saturday of Dream Masquerade Carnival? An absolute banger where I made memories I will cherish for years to come. ❤